A once can’t miss prospect is being cut by his team today. It has gone public that the Raiders are going to get rid of their former number one draft pick JaMarcus Russell. What a hellish few years it has been. Russell went from a guy with perhaps the brightest future coming out of the 07 class, to a player that is going to struggle to make an NFL roster. And you know what..this is becoming a continuous trend.
Guys selected as the number one pick in the NFL Draft are struggling to live up to the expectations. Lets go through the last five number one draft picks (minus this year’s, Sam Bradford because the verdict is still out on him). In 2005, the number one pick was Alex Smith out of Utah. Smith has experienced an extremely up and down NFL career (mainly down though). During the course of his five year career with the 49ers, he has an overall record of 37 and 43 and a very unimpressive QB rating of 69.2. Smith has only played in more than 11 games during one of his five seasons. And the 49ers have not exactly been a quarterback heavy franchise since the retirement of Steve Young. Will he pan out eventually? Who knows. But I do know that he has vastly under achieved and not lived up to the expectations.
In 2006, the number one pick was Mario Williams out of North Carolina State. This was one of the most debated number one picks in recent memory. Many thought that the Texans should have went with then, a can’t miss player in Reggie Bush or former Longhorn QB Vince Young (both have had issues). The ironic thing is Williams has panned out better than most other number one picks. He has made two Pro Bowls in his four year career and really been a game changer for the Texans. But he has not been able to quite get his team over the hump and make the playoffs. This is a guy who goes against my argument of number one picks struggling to deal with the lofty expectations placed on them. It will be interesting to see if he continues to put up strong numbers.
2007 saw our good friend JaMarcus Russell enter the NFL. This guy was supposed to be able to lead the Raiders back to the playoffs and get them back to being a consistent contender. He was supposed to be the savior and bring the proud Raider Nation back to the promised land. Boy were they wrong. Russell has had issues from Day 1. He had a very lofty and highly public lockout before he even signed for his rookie season. By the time he finally signed, his rookie year was pretty much lost. And he has really struggled ever since. His numbers are abysmal in every respect. He has thrown five more interceptions than touchdowns in his career and has a horrible career QB rating of 65.2. Not to mention he has had consistent problems with his weight and the Raiders have been horrible since his arrival. This relationship has been hell from the start. I am not so sure Jason Campbell will be able to make the difference. But will a team pick up Russell? This remains to be seen.
The 2008 draft was started off with the selection of an offensive tackle by the name of Jake Long from the Big House (Michigan). Long has lived up to the expectations in more of a quite manner than most of the high-profile draft picks. This is in part due to being an offensive tackle and not a guy making the big play. Long has now made 2 Pro Bowls and the Dolphins have become a contender again. So Long has lived up to the hype.
Then finally, last year, Matthew Stafford, the QB out of Georgia was the first selection in the draft. Stafford had a very up and down rookie season. He showed glimmers of big time ability with his gun slinging style. Stafford set a rookie record with 422 passing yards in a game. But overall, his numbers were pretty awful. He threw 13 TDs and 20 interceptions. Not to mention he had a QB Rating of 61.0. This is horrific.
So this may be a good thing about the NFL though. Nobody ever knows how these draft picks are actually going to pan out. The guys who have been selected number 1 have really been unpredictable the past few years. Maybe this all means that McShay and Kiper’s rankings are all just a big crock. They have no more idea how these guys are going to pan out than you or me?
Finally, I do not know if a team will pick up Russell. Is he really worth the risk? So what are your thoughts? Have number 1 picks really been a big let down the past half decade?
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.