What if the Raiders never drafted Jamarcus Russell?
The 2007 NFL Draft class was loaded with talent, but the Raiders selected one of the biggest busts in NFL history. Jamarcus Russell went first overall with the following selections being Calvin Johnson, Joe Thomas, Adrian Peterson, Darelle Revis, and Patrick Willis. Going into the 2008 season, the Raiders had a serviceable QB in Josh McCown. Here’s a look at what would’ve happened if they took Calvin Johnson.
“With the 1st overall selection in the 2007 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders select Calvin Johnson, wide receiver, Georgia Tech.”
Consequently, the Raiders have a similar record in the 2008 season and still end up with the same pick in 2008. With mediocre QB play, the Raiders select Joe Flacco with the 4th pick instead of Darren McFadden, which pairs Calvin Johnson and Joe Flacco in the silver and black. The Raiders continue to improve, but a bad defense and running game slow down their ability to win.
In 2009 they skip Darrius Heyward-Bey and select Malcolm Jenkins. They would’ve spent their 2nd round pick on a running back instead of safety Michael Mitchell. Fortunately for the Raiders, the next RB on the board would’ve been Lesean McCoy.
That brings us to the 2010 NFL Draft where the Raiders still select Rolando McClain, but draft a TE to pair with Zach Miller in the second round. But who was the best TE available to them in the second round? Rob Gronkowski. They never trade with the Pats and instead add Gronk to their ridiculous offense.
In this scenario, their offense now includes Joe Flacco, Calvin Johnson, Lesean McCoy, and Rob Gronkowski. Their defense has a lockdown safety in Malcolm Jenkins and a big, physical linebacker in Rolando McClain. Their offensive and defensive line can be filled in the later rounds of the draft as well as free agency. As for cornerbacks, the Raiders still have Nnamdi Asomugha and find younger corners to learn under him.
Keep in mind that in 2011 the Broncos won the division going 8-8. The Ravens, Patriots, and Saints were all part of the 2011 playoffs, but in this scenario the Raiders stole three of their best players. Thus, the Raiders could have met the Giants in the Super Bowl and have a shot at the Lombardi.
While all this is speculation, the Raiders could have changed NFL history if they passed on Jamarcus Russell.
Photo credit: Athletes In Action