Lane Kiffin says he wanted to draft Calvin Johnson, Al Davis took JaMarcus Russell
Lane Kiffin’s first and only stint as a head coach in the NFL was very short-lived, and you could argue that one move destroyed any chance he had at succeeding. Of course, Kiffin claims that move wasn’t his choice.
In an interview with Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated, Kiffin discussed some of the past head coaching gigs he has held and the perception that he failed with them. While he didn’t say much about the Raiders, Kiffin did make one very interesting claim — that he wanted to draft Calvin Johnson in 2007 and late Raiders owner Al Davis forced him to take JaMarcus Russell.
He spends little time reflecting on the Raiders, other than pointing out he begged Al Davis to use the No. 1 pick on Calvin Johnson instead of JaMarcus Russell. Kiffin says Jeff Garcia had agreed to come to Oakland in free agency, and Davis based his Russell pick off evaluating the television copy of LSU’s Sugar Bowl blowout of Notre Dame. He shrugs: “The Raiders wasn’t that hard. Al Davis fires everybody.”
Johnson was taken with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 draft. Behind him at No. 3 was Joe Thomas to the Cleveland Browns, and Adrian Peterson was taken at seventh overall by the Minnesota Vikings.
It’s always easy to look back at a draft and point out the mistakes a team made, but Russell is widely considered to be the biggest draft bust in NFL history. Heck, just look at what the former LSU star said recently to try to land another job. He really was that bad.
Had the Raiders drafted Johnson and gone with Garcia as their starting quarterback, there’s no telling if things would have gone differently for Kiffin. But if that truly is the case, you can’t blame the coach for wondering what might have been.