Russell was taken second overall in the 1997 NFL Draft. He played in all 16 of the Raiders' games, starting the final ten of the season and recording three-and-a-half sacks as a rookie.
Thanks to his stellar performance, Russell was bumped up to a starting position in 1998. In the best season of his career, he recorded ten sacks, and forced a fumble. His accomplishments led him to be selected to the Pro Bowl.
Russell made the Pro-Bowl yet again in 1999, recording nine-and-a-half sacks, and forcing a fumble.
Russell, who many expected to be a dominant force on the line in 2000, had an off year, with only three sacks, but also recorded a safety.
Prior to the 2001 season, Russell tested positive for ecstasy. He was suspended for the first four games of the season, but still had a respectable season for only 12 appearances. Russell recorded two-and-a-half sacks, 41 tackles, and an interception.
After the 2001 season, Russell tested positive for drugs yet again. He was suspended for the whole 2002 season, which caused the Raiders to cut the two-time Pro-Bowler.