Happy purple drank day everyone!
That’s right, seven years ago today, the Oakland Raiders drafted JaMarcus Russell with the number one pick of the 2007 NFL Draft. After an impressive bowl game against Notre Dame and an even more impressive combine and pro day performances, Russell shot up the board and the Raiders chose him over Calvin Johnson.
Russell was supposed to be the savior of a franchise that had been struggling for half a decade. Instead, he was one of the worst draft busts in the history of the NFL. The negative impact he had on the team was even bigger than the massive salary he collected to be overweight and not try. Rather than the Raiders using that first round pick on a guy who would be sure to upgrade the team, they took a risk on a guy with a big arm who also turned out to have a big appetite.
Since then, the Raiders have struggled to find any success in the draft or in the regular season. And while the new rookie wage scale makes misses at the top of the draft much less painful, general manager Reggie McKenzie cannot afford to miss with this pick. While the salary implications are much less, the lost opportunity remains the same.
While the Raiders may not be a great team with Calvin Johnson, they sure as hell would be a whole lot better. Same goes for guys they could have taken instead of Rolando McClain and Darrius Heyward-Bey. I could keep naming names but I am not trying to torture the Raider Nation. The point is, even with a smaller pay check, the repercussions of missing out on an opportunity like the one presently before McKenzie is a mistake that can impact a franchise for years.
Now can we just start the draft already?????