Not that it matters in the grand scheme of things but Brian Billick says his Baltimore Ravens had JaMarcus Russell as the “highest rated player” he’d ever seen on a draft board. Now Billick’s admission means little to nothing. It’s not like his testimony will hold up in court should Mark Davis seek legal action to recoup the $30-millon Russell jacked from the Oakland Raiders.
NFL.com is doing a draft do-over series and naturally they’ve got the Raiders talking Calvin Johnson in their 2007 mulligan. It is all too easy to look back at it and see what Megatron has done and where Russell is to make that assessment.
It is also all too easy to make jokes at the expense of the Raiders and Al Davis for the disaster that was JaWalrus. Now Davis bears plenty of blame for his enabling of Russell. But as far as drafting Russell number one overall goes, that is a mistake plenty of NFL teams would have made if given the chance.
Who wasn’t blown away by Russell’s performance against Brady Quinn in his final collegiate game? Many are on record saying JaMarcus had the best pro day anyone has ever seen of a quarterback.
To be fair there were also those that saw just who Russell really was and advised against giving him a huge contract. But the talent was real. When he actually tried JaMarcus showed a real knack for playing the position including some clutch performances during his short career.
As stated previously none of this matters. The facts are what they are and were it not for Ryan Leaf’s Hudson Hawk routine then Russell would be the de facto biggest draft bust ever.
What this does illustrate is just how big a gamble the NFL draft is. All the so-called experts were lining up to praise Russell the day he was draft. Mel Kiper compared J-Russ to John Elway before he even crossed the stage to shake the commissioner’s hand. Once Russell ended his holdout and got to taking snaps all of a sudden all those so-called analysts began to distance themselves by moving on to the next flavor of the month.
Billick’s admission was related to all of the hype surrounding Texas A&M prospect Ryan Tannehill who has shot into the top 10 in many mock drafts. Nobody is saying Tannehill is the next Russell but the risk is always there. Just don’t expect the men who hyped up Tannehill to own it if the Miami Dolphins use their pick on the new Ryan Leaf.