Raiders Draft LSU QB JaMarcus Russell No. 1 Overall

By Off The BASN Sports Wire
Updated: April 29, 2007

NEW YORK — The Oakland Raiders blew off a month’s worth of rumors, trade talk and smoke screens to do what most insiders expected all along: choose Louisiana State quarterback JaMarcus Russell with the No. 1 overall pick of the NFL Draft Saturday.

Pulling the trigger on the strong-armed Russell was one thing. Now comes what could be the hard part — signing him between now and training camp, which begins July 27 in Napa.

Russell could demand a six-year deal that calls for $30 million in guaranteed money, up from the $26 million earned by last year’s pick, Houston’s Mario Williams.

Choosing first in the NFL Draft for the first time, the Raiders resisted the urge to pick Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson, considered the most talented player available, and stayed locked into someone they expect to be a franchise quarterback to rescue a team that has suffered 49 losses in the past four seasons.

Russell is the fifth quarterback drafted in the Raiders’ first-round history, and the first since Todd Marinovich was a monumental bust in 1991. Russell rocketed to the top of the draft board chart after an impressive Sugar Bowl victory, where he outdueled Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn — then considered a leading candidate to be drafted first overall.

Gifted with a monster arm and suitable mobility, the Raiders consider Russell a good fit for the vertical offense preferred by team owner Al Davis.

Look for them to continue to pursue trade options for wide receiver Randy Moss while they prepare for their next pick in the second round.