We all remember JaMarcus Russell right? Even if you aren't a Raiders fan or even a football fan for that matter, there is probably a good chance that you are familiar with the name JaMarcus Russell.
Russell was the starting quarterback, if that's what you want to call him, for the Oakland Raiders for a short stretch from 2007 through the end of 2009.
Russell played his college ball at LSU, where he led the Tigers to a 21-4 record and a Sugar Bowl win, during his three seasons as the starter.
In the Sugar Bowl, Russell ran and threw for over 350 yards and had three touchdowns on his way to being named the games MVP.
Coming off of his success at the Sugar Bowl, he decided to skip his final year of eligibility at LSU and declared for the 2007 NFL Draft.
No one could've been happier with his decision to turn pro than Raiders former owner, Al Davis.
Davis loved a big, strong quarterback that could fling the ball 70 yards down field to his speedy receivers. In Davis' eyes, Russell was the perfect fit to replace Andrew Walters and Aaron Brooks at quarterback.
In 2006, the Raiders finished the season 4-12 and between both Walters and Brooks, they had a total of three touchdown passes for the season. That is not a typo, they had three touchdown passes in 16 games. With production like that, how could Davis not fall in love with Russell's big arm and play-making ability he showed while at LSU?
The Raiders drafted Russell with the first-overall pick and signed him to a five-year, $61 million contract, with $32 million guaranteed. It was the worst investment an NFL franchise has ever made. His guaranteed money equated to about $1.78 million per touchdown pass. That's insane.
Well, needless to say Davis finally recognized his poor decision, but not until it was way too late. Russell did not work out in Oakland and he set the franchise back even farther than it was.
Russell started only one game his rookie season and saw limited action in three others. The Raiders finished Russell's rookie season, 4-12.
During Russell's time in Oakland, he compiled a 7-18 record and never showed signs that he wanted to be a franchise quarterback. He relied on his ability and God-given talent, but it didn't transfer well in the NFL. Russell found that out when the Raiders released him in May of 2010.
At the time Russell was released, he was overweight and out-of-shape. Those are pretty much prerequisites to playing sports, let alone playing on a competitive level like the NFL. If you aren't constantly working, training, watching film and trying to get better, you will get passed up by someone that is.
Now, after two years removed from the game that Russell took for granted, he wants to make a comeback and let fans see "the real me" as he stated in a recent interview. Russell has decided to work with a team of trainers, coaches and former players, in an effort to get back on the field and change the world's perception of him being a bust.
Can Russell make the comeback? I would have to say no. He did nothing while he was in the league the first time around to convince me he is an NFL-caliber quarterback. He was good in college, but that's about as far as it goes.
Even if Russell puts in the time it will take to get back in football shape, he will still need to be able to deliver on the field and that is a problem. Oh yeah, and just because he wants to make a comeback, it doesn't guarantee that any team is going to be interested in his services.
The last report I heard, Russell's weight was down to 308 pounds from 320 earlier in the year. He still has about 43 pounds to go, just to get back to his rookie weight of 265. It is going to take a lot of hard work and if Russell is able to pull it off, this is one guy that will be completely shocked.
Players drafted after Russell in 2007. You may have heard of some of them. It is hard to imagine how the landscape of the NFL would be different had the Raiders taken any of these players instead of Russell.
No. 2 Calvin Johnson - WR, Lions
No. 3 Joe Thomas - LT, Browns
No. 7 Adrian Peterson - RB, Vikings
No. 11 Patrick Willis - LB, 49ers
No. 12 Marshawn Lynch - RB, Bills
No. 14 Darrelle Revis - CB, Jets
There have been 29 players selected after Russell in the 2007 Draft make the Pro Bowl and countless other players that have had more of an impact than Russell made. View all of the players taken in the 2007 Draft.