Brian Billick admitted on ESPN radio this morning that JaMarcus Russell had the highest grade on any draft board during his years as coach of the Baltimore Ravens.
Billick stated that in his nine years as head coach of the Ravens, the highest grade Baltimore ever had on any player heading into the draft was in 2007, and the player wasn’t that year’s No. 2 overall pick, Calvin Johnson. It was that year’s No. 1 overall pick, JaMarcus Russell.
“We did a pretty decent job, and obviously they continue to do a phenomenal job in Baltimore, with Ozzie Newsome and his group,” Billick said. “JaMarcus Russell was the highest-rated player I’ve ever seen on any of our boards. So we all missed on JaMarcus Russell. Make no mistake.”
Billick compared the way Russell shot up draft boards in the spring of 2007 to the way Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill is shooting up draft boards this year. Billick wasn’t suggesting that Tannehill will bust like Russell did, but he was saying that teams can sometimes fall in love with players for reasons other than what happened on the field during their college careers. And the Ravens certainly fell in love with Russell.
Many Tiger fans including me were surprised that Russell shot to # 1 in the draft, but were equally shocked by his precipitous fall. My feelings are that a myriad of issues combined to end the career of JaMarcus Russell.
The instability and chaos around the Raiders organization merged with someone who was young and immature. This toxic cocktail mixed with millions of dollars upfront without having to do anything for it ruined Russell.