It’s been quite a while since JaMarcus Russell was a topic in the NFL. The former No. 1 overall draft pick by the Raiders in 2007 is widely considered to be the biggest bust in NFL history. He was one of the most exciting quarterback prospects to ever come into the NFL back in 2007. He was massive at 6-foot-6 and had one of the biggest arms the league has ever seen.
Russell was so promising that the Raiders selected him over Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson and future Hall of Famers Adrian Peterson and Joe Thomas. Had he lived up to the hype, he might still be the starting quarterback for the Raiders. Instead, he only lasted three seasons and has been out of the NFL since 2009.
Russell hasn’t spoken out much about his status as one of the biggest draft whiffs ever until now. He’s now wearing the title as a badge of honor.
“My s*** didn’t turn out how I wanted it to, or not how they expected it to,” Russell said on “The Pivot” podcast. “But if you’re going to call me a ‘bust’, put ‘biggest’ on that s*** then. That does not bother me. That is not in my world. It doesn’t apply to anything I have going on.
“I regret that I wasn’t about to become the football player that I once wanted to be as a child. Some s*** like Dan Marino. I regret that I couldn’t be that guy. Forget who everyone else wanted me to be, it was about who I wanted to be for myself.”
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Is Russell the Biggest Bust Ever?
Russell appears ready to accept that he is in fact the biggest bust in NFL history. He certainly has a strong case. Not only was he the top pick who signed a record-breaking contract, but he was also selected ahead of so many great players. Players like Trent Richardson, Ryan Leaf, Ki-Jana Carter and Tim Couch are often mentioned among the biggest busts ever but Russell might be worse than all of them.
He had all the talent to be one of the greats but had noted work ethic issues and that led to off-the-field issues. Considering what the Raiders could’ve had if they didn’t draft him factored in with how much much money he made, it’s hard to find a bigger bust in NFL history.
What Could Have Been
Prior to the drafting of Derek Carr in 2014, the quarterback position plagued the Raiders for a decade. Rich Gannon won an MVP in 2002 but never recaptured that magic as he suffered injuries and retired after the 2004 season. After some rough years, the Raiders found themselves with the No. 1 overall pick in 2007.
Russell was the logical pick as he was one of the most impressive quarterback prospects in years due to his size and arm strength. Former Raiders owner Al Davis loved big-armed quarterbacks who can make plays down the field and Russell had the potential to be one of the best. Instead, he never showed that he could be a starting NFL quarterback. The Raiders then had to spend the next several years trying to figure out the quarterback position until they landed Carr. Had Russell lived up to his draft status, the Raiders would almost certainly have more than two playoff appearances since 2002.