Friday, April 13, 2007

The Chosen One

The big debate amongst the Raider Nation and pro football enthusiasts is who the Raiders should take with the #1 pick in the 2007 draft. There are 3 primary camps on this topic which seem to fall into 1 of 3 categories; “JRuss Baby!” or “Calvin Johnson is the BEST prospect” or “Trade down for extra picks”. I am firmly in the “JRuss Baby!” camp.
Here are my Top 10 Reasons to draft JaMarcus Russell #1:
1. Need - Clearly the Raiders need to place a premium on improving the current QB depth chart. Last year’s QBs (Walter & Brooks) combined for a total of 6 TD passes & 21 interceptions. Brooks was shown the door and the jury is still out on Walter as a viable #1 signal caller. Booty and Otis are practice fodder at best.

2. Impact Position – One could reasonably argue that the most important position on any successful football team is the QB. The QB by nature is the heart, mind, and soul of the offensive unit. It is also the Alpha Dog leader of this unit. It is the one position, when appropriate, has the word “franchise” attached to it. It is the one position that requires the awareness and knowledge of what the other 21 players on the field are doing. Not to be Mr. Cliché’ but the QB is truly the Captain of the offensive ship. It isn't a coincidence that GMs and personnel evaluators use high draft choices on QBs, pass rushing DEs, LTs, and RBs. It is also no accident that these ultra-value positions are the most highly compensated positions.

3. Physical Tools & Skill Set - JRuss without question has outstanding, elite physical tools geared to the professional game. At 6’6, 258 lbs he has the size to stand tall in the pocket, see over the line of scrimmage and the strength to withstand the physical punishment of this violent sport. In addition, JRuss has the mobility, agility, and awareness to effectively avoid the pass rush pressure in order to buy extra time when the pocket breaks down. Although he uses his legs and escape-ability mainly to look for his secondary receivers, he also can use his mobility to motor down field when necessary to move the chains. The cherry on top of this extraordinary skill set is that he has the strongest arm in all of football (college or pros). Here is JRuss' scouting report.
4. Coachable – Noted QB guru Tom Martinez who has worked with John Elway and Tom Brady spent 2 weeks this off-season coaching JRuss. Martinez worked with JRuss on his footwork, hand placement, drops, and mechanics. After these training sessions Martinez gave JRuss a glowing report in terms of his ability to process information and apply the coaching techniques. Another barometer of JRuss being coachable is the continuous strides he made throughout his college career. View his improvement from 2004 to 2005 to 2006 here.
5. Passing Prowess – Touch, accuracy, quick release, and arm strength … his passing abilities are remarkable. After reviewing game film and JRuss’ pro-day performance, Todd McShay (ESPN analyst) said JRuss has the best passing abilities he has ever seen in the 10+ years that he has been covering the draft. Enjoy this video clip.
6. Unique Prospect Under Unique Circumstances – When was the last time that the Raiders had a glaring weakness at QB, had the #1 pick, and a unique QB prospect staring us in the face? If you guessed Roman Gabriel in 1962 go ahead and give yourself a cold beer. The point I'm trying to convey with the trivia question is that in my humble opinion, the Raiders need to to capatilize on this rare opportunity for a potential franchise type QB instead of taking the "safer" route. Some might argue that drafting Calvin Johnson is the safe & prudent move. Nonsense. Name 1 WR drafted in the 1st 5 picks over the last 36 years of modern professional football history who made a noticeable impact on his team's fortunes. There have only been 15 WRs taken in the 1st 5 picks in modern history. The fact that so few WRs have been drafted in the top 5 picks should give you a strong indicator that this position is NOT a high impact position.
7. Record of Achievement – Playing in the SEC, arguably the toughest conference in all of college football, JRuss compiled a 25-4 record as a starter. His 28-8 TD to INT ratio & 67.8% completion accuracy in 2006 were outstanding marks.
8. Leadership Abilities – JRuss has demonstrated in his college career a cool, calm and poised sense of confidence. Call it the swagger factor but this intangible quality was very evident in the 8 4th quarter comebacks that JRuss led LSU to in his short college career.
9. A Grounded Superstar – Russell is a soft-spoken, humble person by nature. "He's very quiet, very respectful," Martinez said, "He doesn't say much, but he's always taking things in. You can see him sizing things up and figuring people out. He has a very grounded family," Martinez said. "They're all squared away. They're not buying into the fanfare around this."
10. A Minty Fresh, New Chapter – With the energizer bunny, Kid Kiffin, on board as our new head coach and a dismal 15-49 record over the past 4 years in the rear view mirror, JRuss would give us a new beginning filled with hope. The approach of filling our QB needs with reclamation projects and free agent retreads has grown stale. Over the past 29 years the Raiders have been successful with this approach only 2 times; Jim Plunkett in 1978 and Rich Gannon in 1999.
JRuss Baby! 14 days until my dreams about "The Chosen One" hopefully becomes a reality.
(P.S. I promise not to pout if Big Al goes in another direction. Cheers!)


Anonymous drolle said...

I believe another reason to draft Russell is that we need a potential star at QB to compete in our own division. KC, SD and Den have good QB's already. Those teams were smart enough to upgrade at the QB position. If the Raiders want to stay competitive, they must upgrade also. Notice how those teams have great running games, now we have started trying to upgrade our running game.

10:03 AM  
Anonymous scorpio said...

calico - i know i said i wouldn't say anything more about the draft until after the raiders pick. but that was on the other blog. frankly, i'm worried! financially that is.

i originally said it would take $30 mil to sign the 1st pick. but another poster said that it just might take a whopping $50 mil instead. add that to the potential banking by burgess and asomugha man - we're in a heap 'o trouble financially!

in order for this to work, guys would have to rework their contracts once again, get cut or traded.

a few weeks ago, i had a crazy plan to trade our first pick to the cards for their 5th overall, a 2nd and leinart AND their first next year. this would benefit all concerned and would straighten out a mistake al davis made in not drafting leinart last year. and oh BTW, IF davis had not passed on leinart, we wouldn't be in this QB mess now would we? sorry, had to throw that in there. anyway, that proposal doesn't look so crazy now given the possible financial strain of signing a 1st overall pick.

another way of relieving us of that burden is to (brace yourselves russell supporters) trade down. we get more value out of trading down than keeping the pick. we set ourselves up for the future (the trading partner would need to give up their '07 and '08 1sts) PLUS i believe russell will still be there. if not, there are many other player options to take.

this is a case of "just don't pay for it baby".

BTW, i wonder what howie long thinks now that our line is one of those chop/cut blocking lines denver has. if you recall, he was very outspoken about this back then. interesting. but at least the line is getting some new faces.

11:01 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Scorpio - I don't share your same concerns about the Raiders being able to sign our #1 pick, DBurg, and Aso. Sure it will take some cap managing, restructuring, cuts etc. but some how, some way it will get done.

When considering the #1 pick, the 2 things to concentrate on are the $ value in the 1st year against the cap and the total amount guaranteed. No question it will be a big chunk of change. The 1st year coin should be less than $10M. The guaranteed portion should be approx. $30M spread out over the life of the contract.

Just a guess but the release of Moss, Brayton, and Gibson would save approx. $10M in 2007 cap space. I'm not privvy to the Raiders financial books but I have no reason to doubt the ability of the team to sign the players wanted.

As far as DBurg and Aso, there are plenty of ways and ample time to make sure their services are secured. DBurg's contract could be extended and back loaded which won't effect the 2007 cap figure. Aso still has 1 more year left on his contract.

Like every new season, there is always a need to juggle the financial books and prioritize which players to keep. With the increased revenues of the league and higher cap figure due to the CBA, the Raiders are not anymore handicapped than previous years.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Jerious Norwood said...

"i'm worried! financially that is."

What are you guys talking about? The league is financially flush. Even "small market" teams have not problem meeting the salary cap merely from their share of the TV revenues. Almost every team in the NFL is way under the salary cap. Unless you're Al Davis' nephew concerned about the will (even then the value of every franchise clearly exceeds any monetary obligations to players, who don't even have guaranteed contracts by the way). The cap isn't a problem, especially if we trade Randy, and the money is there. Chill out. God.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Stick'em said...

CJ: Nice breakdown of the Pros. Where are the Cons - LOL?

When all is said and done, Russell probably will not be as bad as some folks predict (see Jeff George, great arm and nothing else, perhaps the biggest disappointment at QB ever).

Nor will Russell probably be as good as some folks predict (see John Elway, great arm, HOF, a couple of rings, maybe the GOAT at QB).

But this much is certain:

It is high time to put the "Raiders can't develop a QB" talk to rest... or die trying.

The last homegrown QB of any note was Kenny Stabler... drafted forty years ago... 1968 - YIKES!

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey CB,
Great observations. I am struggling with this draft, because I don't know how much Russ can help us as a rookie (a college Junior Rookie), so we need to bring in a veteran to play most of the season. That should be a primary focus, it seems we have already lost out on most of the free agents qb's. I also think we have to give Walter's a shot, looking at last year is not fair or (more importantly) accurate. So should we go get Russ as well? Looking at statistics, no First pick Junior QB's have proven great(Bledso was the best of the lot, and excepting V. Young in his 'young' career). Maybe Russ can be the guy. I know how Al has must be drooling over Calvin, but maybe he does think Russ is the next Elway. As long as We draft Russ, Quinn, or CJ, I will be happy, I am more keenly watching our other moves, to get the veteran qb who WILL be playing most of the season, and shoring up our horrendous OL (kudos for pulling in Carlisle and Newberry to help our young mamoth kids along). Looking forward to reading many more good articles as we win our way through the season.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Well Jack you won't pout but I'll be unbelievably upset should we get anyone other than JaROCK!!!

Love your work dude, keep it going!!! I and the Nation appreciate it!!

One Nation, the ONLY Nation... The RAIDER NATION!

6:05 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

To Scorpio and whom ever else thinks this way... We ain't trading our pick away!!!! GET THIS OUT OF YOU'RE SYTEMS GUYS!!!!! Stop saying it coz you sound uninformed and frankly a bit lame.

I love you guys but GOOD GREEF, This insesant whinniny about trading down, honestly AL NEVER TRADES DOWN A TOP PICK!!! Especially The number ONE!!!

This is a chance of a life time and the dudes a wiz at negotiation so if JaROCK cost 100 million? Al will find a way to swing that deal.

And one more thing... All of you Noter Dame fans STOP IT with the QUINN talk. he is a LOSER!!!

The dude had 4 years to prepare for the draft and the last 2 with the so called "Offensive GURU Wies" and yet...


WALTER is already in the NFL and he's more nfl ready than QUINN will ever be and THAT and a buck fifty will get you a cup of burned up tasting coffee at Starbucks...

It doesn't say a dame thing!!! More NFL ready? What is he a battery?

I luv-ya guys but please give it a resat with Quinn...dude should go in the 6th round where he belongs...

6:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drafting ANY QB does us no good if the line can't protect him. Why does JRuss remind me of Daunte Caulpepper so much? - Todd Shriber

1:19 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Todd - Thanks for visiting the site. You are right about the importance of protecting the QB. I do think with one of the best OLine coaches(Tom Cable), improved blocking at FB (Griffith), TE (Stewart), the additions of Carlisle (OG) & Newberry (C/G), better playcalling, and a more QB friendly offensive system, that JRuss will an opportunity to shine. Hopefully we can draft 1-2 blue chip OL prospects in the draft to add depth & competition.

Onward & Upward,
Calico Jack

2:13 PM  

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