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JaMarcus Russell showed at LSU's Pro Day why he will be the #1 Pick come this April.

March 2007

Potential first overall pick of the upcoming 2007 NFL Draft, LSU Quarterback JaMarcus Russell put on a quality workout session that by all indications solidified his draft position.  A multitude of over 100 NFL coaches, executives, personnel evaluators, and others jammed the LSU indoor practice facility to get a first hand look at the NFL’s latest version of the “modern qb”.  The workout (dissection) definitely felt like last year’s “show me something” intrigue of Vince Young at Texas’ Pro Day.  Russell, who left LSU early as a redshirt junior looked like he has been doing some quality preparation in Arizona working out at the Athletic Performance facility with guys like USC WR Dwayne Jarrett.  His weight always a sticking point with evaluators was good as he measured in at 6’6 and 256 pounds, which was down 9 pounds from his combine weight of 265.   His weight has been maintained by working with a nutritionist as well in Arizona, who has him dining on fish and vegetables.

Russell’s activities consisted of throwing about 50 passes to his familiar LSU targets of Dwayne “Baby T.O” Bowe and Craig Davis, who both have a chance of being Day 1 picks.  Russell’s extraordinary arm was on display as he hit all of his throws to the sidelines and dropped several deep throws of 70 yards or more easily into receiver’s hands.  Russell’s arm strength was never really in question, as some have compared his arm to Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway.  I literally think he can throw a ball through a “brick wall”!  The crowd however wanted to see his footwork and agility and Russell came to impress clocking a 4.8 second forty time and looking very good in his 3, 5, and 7 step drops.  Russell as any competitive person thought he could have done better and said "On some of the routes, I could've been better balanced when I was throwing," he said. "I could've thrown over the top a lot more."

One very interested bystander was new Oakland Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin.  Kiffin’s intrigue was not big news, because the Raiders own the first overall pick after winning only 2 games including losing their last nine in 2006.  They seem to be now committed to finding a leader at the quarterback position after stopgap types like Aaron Brooks, Kerry Collins, and Jeff George have not fit the bill over the years.  It would also seem with their extensive history of getting “vertical” that the big armed Russell would fit right into a gapping hole in their lineup.  Kiffin tried to be coy, but he was obviously impressed with Russell’s athleticism and leadership potential.  He went on to say, "Obviously, I'm very impressed, We were very impressed. He had a great day. He seems very first class."  He also added "There's a chance we'll take him", which seems like a no-brainer but there is slight chance for a trade.  Several NFL sources have indicated that the Browns upper management wants a franchise quarterback and it is no secret that Browns GM Phil Savage is a fan of Russell and may want to move up from his current 3rd overall position.  The Raiders did get an early start on the competition as it was reported that their contingent was spotted having dinner with Russell and his representatives after the workout.  It is a good thing that they started talking, as Russell is expected to get a contract above 2005 NFL first overall pick 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, who signed for $49.5 million over six years, including $24 million of guaranteed.
 
To me all of the fanfare around Russell is warranted, because he has the on the field credentials at LSU that matter in player evaluation.  He has the aforementioned arm strength (80 yards plus with a great fastball) and better mobility than most give him credit for.  He was 25-4 as a starter and he led eight 4th quarter comeback victories. He was the nation's No. 3-ranked quarterback in passing efficiency in 2006 while setting a school record for completion percentage at 67.8 percent and for completions with 232 out of 342 attempts and tying the record for touchdown passes at 28. He became only the second quarterback in LSU history to throw for 3,000 yards with 3,129 and finished with 6,525 yards and 52 touchdowns in three seasons (two as a starter). To me he solidified his place at the top of the draft board by clearly out playing Notre Dame “golden boy” QB Brady Quinn in the 2007 Sugar Bowl, throwing for an amazing 332 yards and two touchdowns in the Tigers' 41-14 rout.  In terms of his leadership potential and ability, he reminds me of Super Bowl XXII MVP and former Redskins quarterback Doug Williams.

-- Submitted by Lloyd Vance

 

 

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