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Friday, April 27, 2007

Beware the Big Guy

For all the damage Charlie Casserly inflicted on my hometown NFL franchise over the years, the Houston Texans, he got one thing partially right.

In the most recent edition of Sports Illustrated, Casserly said the NFL Draft is "one weekend when nobody loses any games. Everybody is undefeated."

Well, it is for most other teams. Everyone instantly figured out the Texans were losers when when Casserly passed on Vince Young and took underachieving defensive end Mario Williams with the first pick.

But, I digress. That brings us to another team poised to inflict Casserly-like damage on themselves after this weekend: the Oakland Raiders.

While there's no true way to figure out what Al Davis and the Men in Black are going to do Saturday morning, most folks would put their money on the Raiders taking LSU's own JaMarcus Russell with the top pick.


Russell, to me, is the creation of every NFL personnel guy's fantasies. He's big, has a bigger arm, outperformed fellow top QB prospect Brady Quinn on a big stage and comes from a big program with pedigree. Sounds promising, right?

Not really.

Here's the deal: until that Sugar Bowl performance against the Fighting Irish, no one - and I mean no one - would have argued that JaMarcus Russell was the best player in college football. He was never even in the running for the Heisman.

So, on the strength of mostly one game, JaMarcus moved past Brady and everyone else to become the draft's likely No. 1 pick? That seems like dubious scouting, to me. I watched plenty of LSU games this year and never felt like I was watching anything approaching a first-round pick, let alone the top one.

Russell is a great guy, on paper. But so were Tim Couch, Akili Smith, Ryan Leaf, David Carr and a long lists of QBs who never quite lived up to the hype.

About that last guy, Casserly felt like a winner that day five years ago when he took Carr with the Texans' first-ever draft pick. Too bad no one counts those "Ws" during the regular season.


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