Any conversation about biggest all-time busts in the NFL Draft has to begin with JaMarcus Russell. A few years ago he showed off one of the strongest arms the game of football has ever seen by throwing footballs through the goal posts from his knees from around midfield in pregame warm-ups before routing Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. However, he failed to make an impact for the Oakland Raiders, and, after three seasons, he was cut from the team and out of the league.
Now, he’s attempting to make a comeback.
Russell, the first overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft that also included stars like Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, and Patrick Willis, has been out of the league since 2009 but is now working with the likes of Jeff Garcia, Marshall Faulk, and Test Academy in San Diego to get his career going again.
However, with his weight above 310 pounds, Russell has a long way to go.
Weight issues, immaturity, lack of preparedness, and no study habits all dogged Russell throughout his time in Oakland and even earlier at LSU. While no one has ever doubted his ability, JaMarcus Russell is one of the laziest players to ever wear an NFL uniform.
The most immediate goal for Russell and his support team is to get his weight below 270 pounds. He will never be a “mobile” quarterback, but, if he can get his weight down to this manageable number, it will demonstrate a commitment to improvement and an ability for the 6’6″ Russell to be able to maneuver in the pocket.
At the age of 27, Russell could still have several productive seasons in the NFL. However, this is a now or never moment for the former number one pick. The best he can expect is to receive a minimum level contract with a team that wants to take him on as a developmental third string quarterback. It will take at least a year for him to get used to playing the game again and compete for serious playing time.
Moreover for Russell, it seems as though NFL teams are interested in the changes he claims to be making. However, this may be the last time anyone cares to listen. Several claims of change while he was still in the league plus four years out of the league and still weighing 300+ pounds cannot inspire much confidence.
Russell will have a month and a half to get ready if he plans to compete at LSU’s pro-day. Given Russell’s history, the likelihood of this offensive lineman sized quarterback ever suiting up in the NFL again is not particularly high. His comeback attempt will, nevertheless, be entertaining.
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