Three years after being selected with the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, JaMarcus Russell(notes) is out of a job. The Oakland Raiders cut the quarterback on Thursday after a disappointing tenure in which the former LSU star earned $36 million to lead the team to a 7-18 record as a starter.
Reports indicated that Russell was tipping the scales at 300 pounds during the offseason, well above the 255 he supposedly weighed when he was selected in 2007. Ask anyone in the NFL to describe Russell and it wouldn't be long before the word "lazy" was peppered into the conversation.
That, coupled with the recent addition of former Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell(notes), made Russell expendable, so the Raiders made the only logical move and released him. In doing so, did JaMarcus Russell become the biggest draft bust ever?
Though his resume of incompetence can stand up next to anyone's, we're going to hold off on putting JaMarcus on the top of the list for one reason: His failure surprised no one. Generally, it's not a good sign when work ethic and weight are a major concern for scouts. One scouting profile wrote the following about Russell prior to the 2007 draft: "At maximum growth potential and any more weight will affect his quickness ... His weight needs to be monitored, as he will lose some of his agility when he hits the 260-pound range." The questions about laziness were more whispered, but the point is the same. People saw this coming.
He was a guy with a big arm, tremendous upside and a lot of college success who happened to be at the top of a fairly-weak draft class. Somebody had to go No. 1 and because Al Davis needed a quarterback and loves athletic football players, Russell was that guy. He was a No. 1 pick by default.
Russell joins Tim Couch(notes), David Carr(notes) and Alex Smith as other quarterbacks whose lack of success puts them in the "biggest bust ever" argument even though their expectations were more a function of draft positioning rather than an excess of talent. In short, they weren't Peyton Manning(notes).
Tony Mandarich, Reggie Bush(notes) and, to a degree, Michael Vick(notes) are different cases. They were each going to revolutionize the league but failed to have nearly as much impact as anticipated. They are the true busts. JaMarcus Russell merely lived down to expectations.
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