2015 NFL Draft: Five Biggest Busts in Raiders Draft History

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1. JaMarcus Russell (who else?)

Selected: No. 1 overall, 2007

Seasons played for the Raiders: 3

Games started for the Raiders: 25

JaMarcus Russell is widely regarded as one of the top two draft busts in NFL history behind only Ryan Leaf. Russell had been an absolute star at LSU, compiling 6,625 passing yards and 52 TDs to only 21 INTs in a three-year career.

He had every possible physical dimension you would want from a starting NFL quarterback: he stood nearly 6’6″ and weighed 265 pounds, ran a respectable 4.72-second 40 yard dash and scored a respectable 24 on the Wonderlic test.

He also had uncanny arm strength and in drills and on game film showed more than enough accuracy to get the job done at the NFL level.

The Raiders had gone 2-14 the season prior with Andrew Walter and Aaron Brooks splitting time as the starting quarterbacks and had earned the right to make the first selection in the 2007 draft.

JaMarcus Russell was a no-brainer for Al Davis and would have been a no-brainer for nearly any other team in the league had they found themselves in that position.

The only other quarterback in that draft class who had a semblance of first-round talent was Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn, who ultimately fell to No. 22 overall and also had a sub-par pro career.

So the Raiders made the obvious choice, and took the prototypical NFL passer No. 1 overall.

In the era before the rookie wage scale, negotiations dragged on into training camp and into week 1 of the regular season before Russell finally signed a six-year, $68 million deal with $31.5 million guaranteed.

New Raider head coach Lane Kiffin decided to not start the rookie despite the team’s absolute offensive ineptitude, as Russell had missed training camp and Kiffin was wary of him being thrown to the wolves to quickly, a la David Carr.

Raider QBs Josh McCown and Daunte Culpepper combined for a 4-11 record and 15 TDs to 16 picks as fans began to outright demand to see Russell.

In a Week 9 loss to Houston, fans chanted for Russell loudly throughout the game and booed McCown when he came on the field to start the second half.

Russell saw progressive action in three late-season games (including a 7-for-23, 1 TD, 3 INT outing against Jacksonville) before getting his first start in a Week 17 matchup against the Chargers.

Russell completed 74 percent of his passes for 2 TDs and a single pick and Raider fans at least had something to look forward to for 2008.

Russell started 2008 wildly inconsistent as the Raiders started 1-3: in two games against the Broncos and Chargers he completed nearly 62 percent of his passes for 457 yards, 3 TDs and a single pick.

In two games against the Chiefs and Bills he completed less than 42 percent of his passes for 211 yards and threw a single touchdown. After the 1-3 start, Lane Kiffin got fired and replaced by Tom Cable, but even the coaching change couldn’t shake Russell of his inconsistency.

The Raiders went 4-8 the rest of the way, and Russell looked like two different quarterbacks from week to week. By the end of the season, he’d put together a 53.8 completion percentage, 2,423 yards, 13 TDs and 8 INTs.

The Raiders won their last two in a row behind Russell, who threw six TDs and two INTs in those two games, giving Raider fans hope again for the following year.

In 2009, Ted Tollner and Paul Hackett were brought in to work with Russell, Tollner as passing game coordinator and Hackett as QB’s coach.

Russell responded by playing abysmally as the Raiders got off to a 2-7 record in Russell’s first nine starts: 46.4% completion percentage, 1,064 yards, 2 TDs, 9 INTs.

Russell was replaced by Bruce Gradkowski for four games, and then by Charlie Frye for the last three, as the Raiders finished 5-11. Russell saw limited action in relief of Gradkowski and Frye late, and finished the year with a 3 TDs and 12 INTs as the worst-rated quarterback in the NFL.

Early in the 2010 offseason, Russell showed up to minicamp weighing somewhere around 290 pounds, with reports in April of that year having him at more than 300 pounds.

The Raiders traded for former Washington QB Jason Campbell, and then promptly cut Russell, later filing a grievance against him in an attempt to recoup the guaranteed money they had to pay him for the 2010-12 seasons.

In July 2010, Russell was arrested for possession of codeine cough syrup — known as “lean” — without a prescription. Though he was not indicted, the image of Russell as an overweight lean addict stuck.

Russell tried out for a few NFL teams, but never found his way onto another roster as questions about his lean habit, conditioning, weight issues and work ethic swirled.

Some in the media, including NFL.com’s Steve Wyche, have JaMarcus Russell as the biggest draft bust in NFL history, while others have him second behind Ryan Leaf.

Most agree that he is one of the biggest draft busts in the history of sports, and he is most definitely the biggest draft bust in the long and storied history of the Raiders and draft busts.

With the No. 4 overall pick in the draft this year, the Raiders have a chance to change the direction of the franchise for years to come.

Reggie McKenzie has done very well with his draft selections so far in his Raider tenure, and with tons of legitimately talented players in this draft — who are not lean-sipping or coke-snorting quarterbacks — we should all rest assured that the 2015 draft’s first pick will not be on this list in the future.