Unlike some franchises, the Raiders were hard to decide on because they have SO MANY bad picks. Al Davis was a sucker for Uber athletes that were selected much higher than their play warranted. Looking at you Darrius Heyward-Bey. But really there was only ever one choice, JaMarcus Russell.
Russell had all the things Davis loves, great size and physical gifts that were off the charts. Russell was 6’6 and 250 pounds with an absolute cannon attached to his shoulder. While at LSU he made a number of jaw dropping plays while leading them to a winning record. While many scouts were tantalized by his overall package, some were skeptical that he truly loved football and that he lacked maturity.
Oakland chose to ignore those concerns and selected him with the 1st overall pick in 2007. HC Lane Kiffin chose not to rush him into action to allow him time to acclimate to the offense. This gesture didn’t seem to make a difference as he was extremely ineffective during his rookie season. He was named the starter for the 2008 season and his ineptitude continued throughout the season.
During his third season he continued to struggle and was eventually benched for Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye. He later regained his starting role due to injuries but finished the year last in QBR, completion percentage, TDs thrown, and passing yards. That would wrap up his final season in Oakland. When he returned for training camp in 2010 he weighed in at 291 pounds and was terribly conditioned. Oakland released him that May after trading for Jason Campbell.
Oakland has a penchant for missing big during the draft, but 2007 was a year that was full of talent, including some future Hall of Famers. The following players were taken after Russell; Calvin Johnson, Joe Thomas, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Patrick Willis, Darrelle Revis, Lawrence Timmons, Jon Beason, Joe Staley, and Greg Olson.
Having a player like Calvin Johnson or Darrelle Revis can help rewrite the history of your franchise, instead the Raiders selected a player who is widely known as the biggest draft bust in history. Luckily for members of Raider Nation they’ve gotten better at evaluating talent which is how they ended up with franchise cornerstones like Derek Carr and Khalil Mack.