JaMarcus Russell had a 25-4 record as Louisiana State’s starting quarterback. During his three college seasons, he threw for 6,625 yards and completed 61.86 percent of his passes.
By selecting the strong-armed Russell with the No. 1 choice in the 2007 NFL draft on April 28, the Raiders believe they have acquired a franchise-caliber quarterback with the potential to resurrect their woeful offense. During the 2006 season, Oakland scored a league-low 168 points and had only 12 passing touchdowns.
The Raiders reportedly also considered using their top pick on Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Wisconsin offensive tackle Joe Thomas and Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn.
In the end, the Raiders couldn’t ignore Russell’s huge upside — a 6-foot-5½, 258-pound quarterback who can fling the football 80 yards.
“There was no doubt in our mind this was the direction we wanted to go,” Raiders coach Lane Kiffin told reporters April 28. “This is someone who’s coming in here to compete to play. We know from what we’ve seen on film and when we’ve met with him and all the research we’ve done, going back to when he was extremely young, that this is someone who can come in and help us win games.”
Russell (right) is expected to compete with incumbent Andrew Walter and Josh McCown for the Raiders' starting quarterback position in training camp. Hours after selecting Russell, Oakland acquired McCown and wide receiver Mike Williams from the Detroit Lions for a 2007 fourth-round draft pick. McCown started 22 games for Arizona before being a backup with Detroit in 2006.
“I just want to go in and be prepared to compete for the job,” Russell told reporters April 28. “It’s a great chance and opportunity for me to go out and try to prove myself and compete for the job. Whether it’s right now or I sit behind a guy and push him through practice for however long it takes, I’m just ready to go and compete.”
Russell is the first quarterback taken by the Raiders in the first round since 1991 when Todd Marinovich was chosen with the 24th overall pick. Before picking Marinovich, the Raiders hadn’t taken a quarterback in the first round since 1980 when Marc Wilson was selected with the 15th overall choice.
As a junior, Russell threw for 3,219 yards with 28 touchdowns and only eight interceptions in leading LSU to an 11-3 record. He capped his college career by passing for 332 yards and two touchdowns and runing for another in the Tigers’ 41-14 rout of Notre Dame in the 2006 Sugar Bowl.
As a sophomore, he led the Tigers to a 10-2 record before sustaining a left shoulder separation and ligament damage in his right wrist against Georgia in the SEC title game. He finished the 2005 season with 2,443 passing yards and 15 touchdowns with nine interceptions.
Russell finished his LSU career with 52 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions. He completed 493 of 797 passes (61.9 percent) and rushed 139 times for 79 yards (0.6 yards per carry) with four scores. His 61.86 completion percentage ranks second in school history.
The Raiders hadn't picked No. 1 since 1962, when they were in the American Football League and managing general partner Davis was employed by the Los Angeles Chargers. Oakland chose North Carolina State quarterback Roman Gabriel, who signed with the Los Angeles Rams.