JaMarcus Russell may be considered one of the biggest quarterback draft busts since the incarcerated Ryan Leaf. A number one overall pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2007, the former LSU star hasn’t played in the NFL since 2009.
But the former NFL version of the Pillsbury Doughboy is now a committed and determined quarterback wanting a second chance at an NFL career. An offseason of hard work under the tutelage of former NFL star Jeff Garcia has brought Russell back into the eyes of league executives just as a draft with a seemingly lack of depth at the quarterback position is upcoming.
On an April 10 Pro Day, teams are going to be able to gander at the new slim-and-trim Russell (down to 288 pounds from his 315 pound top weight), and he could turn out to be a pleasant surprise for those in attendance.
“I’ve been following his comeback story pretty closely,” an NFC scout said to CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman.” A lot of teams are. Good chance he gets a second shot.”
Russell is not only trying to overcome the perceived physical deficiencies he once had, but also the knock on his attitude, having been described as lazy and lethargic by some. He is undergoing a very tough fitness regimen as well as some training on basic QB skills under Garcia.
“Through the first couple weeks, I could barely make it through the workout,” Russell said. “We go in to do the warm-up, and here I am breathing like a fat man. Now I’m breathing pretty good and able to stand up on my own two feet.”
With the Raiders sending Carson Palmer on his way to the Arizona Cardinals, one might have to consider if Oakland would be willing to take a second chance on their former NFL bonus baby. If the reports on Russell are accurate, and he has an impressive workout at the Pro Day, it would seem he could be as good as any potential quarterback the Raiders might get in this year’s draft.
The New York Jets and Cardinals were both reported as showing interest in Russell, but Arizona has now removed themselves from that discussion with the acquisition of Palmer from Oakland. Picking up Russell for a league minimum free agent contract would save the Raiders a high round draft pick, and some money in the end.
It could be one of those divorce turned remarriage success stories, and the Raiders could do with some success at the QB position for a change.