Jamarcus Russell: Is He The Next Eli Manning, David Carr, Or Ryan Leaf

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IOctober 10, 2009

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 04:  Quarterback JaMarcus Russell #2 of the Oakland Raiders walks off the field during play against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on October 4, 2009 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Lets take a look at three number one picks, drafted into vastly different situations and thrust into action at a young age, and their stats.  These three had remarkable similar results early in their starting career.

Player (W-L) PA-PC-PCT-YDS-TD-HIT-Rating
Russell (6-14) 507-264-52.0-3,153-15-13-70.5
Manning (10-10) 648-334-51.5-4,105-27-24-69.9
Carr (6-14) 564-307-54.4-12-20-65.4

I found these stats in an article by Jerry Mcdonald.  Not sure what HIT is.  I am guessing it is a misprint and supposed to be INT.

Two of these number ones currently share the same team while taking vastly different paths to get there. 

Eli Manning improved and has begun to build a career befitting of a number one overall selection.  David Carr seemed to regress deeper into his failures and down the depth chart. 

Russell's career is likely headed down one of these two paths. 

During Russell's recent and mighty struggles the half full side of me has voiced comparisons of Russell to Manning. 

I base this on Manning's early accuracy issues, questioned leadership, perception of a lackadaisical attitude and the fact that his first signs of greatness came via come from behind fourth quarter drives.

I will forever remember watching  Keith Olbermann discuss Manning’s come from behind wins as a sign of QB greatness.  

This was at a time when Eli was looking as lost as Russell is now.  I promptly told Olbermann, through my TV, to lay down his crack pipe and take some sane pills.

As Olbermann was to later point out, in the above linked clip, he was one of the first to spot the intangibles, that can lead to greatness, in the young Manning.  Russell has shown some of these same qualities.

Qualities like calm under pressure, not being overwhelmed by the rising intensity of the moment, and playmaking at the most crucial of times.

Then there is the half empty side of me, which thinks Russell does not work hard enough to make this comparison anything more than wishful thinking. 

Reading and listening to the comments of fans and media, one gets the impression the only thing Russell works on is eating, cashing checks and partying. 

Coughlin has said that Manning bust his ass to improve, while Cable, after publicly questioning Russell's work ethic, says Russell has sufficiently improved his work ethic. 

Both of these are hard-nosed coaches who are not afraid to speak their mind concerning a player's dedication.  I am inclined to take them at their word.

While saying someone has improved their work ethic is certainly different than busting his ass, I put enough faith in Cable's word that I have not given up hope on this comparison.

The half empty side of me points out that Russell is comparable to David Carr in one big aspect: they do/did not have much to work with.  Manning has been fortunate to spend his career being protected by a solid offensive line. 

Russell and Carr both were forced to operate with suspect protection.  It is hard to say to what level line play derailed Carr's career, but it easy to see how not having time to set, throw and read defenses can stunt a QB's development.

Combine this with the fact that both Carr and Russell have/had to battle learning new offensive systems and you are looking at another sure fire way to stunt the growth of a QB.  Look at the continuity Eli has enjoyed.

The other comparison tossed around with Russell's name is Ryan Leaf.  Russell's completion percentages and QB rating this season have been in the dreaded Leaf range. 

I have never felt this was valid.  Leaf had some serious arm injuries and also there was no questioning Leaf's work ethic- it was known that he did not have one.

Also, Leaf behaved like a total jackass to everyone around him.  Russell is a likeable enough individual that I am not going to compare him to Ryan Leaf.

There will forever be only one Ryan Leaf in my mind.  This is coming from a guy who did not understand how anyone could possibly draft Peyton Manning over the can't miss talent of one Mr. Ryan Leaf.

I still think that given a good offensive line and a little continuity in system, Russell's career will inspire comparisons to Eli Manning.  Of course, I have been wrong before. 

On that note I feel compelled to say: Keith Olbermann is almost as wise as the men who decided to draft Eli's older brother Peyton over Leaf.