For the past four years or so, the Oakland Raiders have been bombarded with criticism for drafting one of the biggest NFL flops of all time in JaMarcus Russell. Much of the criticism has been thrown at JaMarcus himself — and rightfully so — but the Raiders have faced their fair share of ridicule for the pick. What we tend to forget, however, is that there are a number of other teams who would have made the exact same move. As former Ravens coach Brian Billick reminded us this week, Russell was seen by many teams as a sure thing.
“We did a pretty decent job (of drafting), and obviously they continue to do a phenomenal job in Baltimore, with Ozzie Newsome and his group,” Billick said on ESPN Radio according to Pro Football Talk. “JaMarcus Russell was the highest-rated player I’ve ever seen on any of our boards. So we all missed on JaMarcus Russell. Make no mistake.”
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 draft was Calvin Johnson and the No. 7 pick was Adrian Peterson, so in hindsight they clearly should have been the highest-rated players. Patrick Willis was taken 11th and Darrelle Revis 14th. As we all know, that is the nature of drafting in the NFL.
The Ravens had the 29th pick in 2007 and knew they were in no position to draft Russell, but Billick’s assertion is a reminder that Oakland was not the only team who was high on the former LSU star. If he was the highest-rated player Billick ever saw during his time in Baltimore, that means he was seen as more of a sure thing than guys like Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, and Eli Manning. In retrospect, the Raiders made the obvious choice and probably wish they would have had a lower pick.
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