Russell's Demise and Where The Raiders Go In The Draft

Tim PetersonCorrespondent INovember 16, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 15:  Wallace Gilberry #92 and Tamba Hali #91 of the Kansas City Chiefs sack JaMarcus Russell #2 of the Oakland Raiders during an NFL game  at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 15, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

In the infamous words of former Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green: “They are who we thought they were... And we let’em off the hook”.

There’s absolutely no doubt the Raiders let the Chiefs off the hook during Sunday’s baffling 16-10 loss at the Coliseum. Now it seems like a matter of time before the Raiders pull the plug on mega-bust quarterback JaMarcus Russell.

Al Davis must be getting close to concluding that Russell is not going to pan out as an NFL caliber quarterback. And no amount of on-the-job training will change that.

Raiders coach Tom Cable didn’t come out and say those words, after the team’s seventh consecutive home loss to Kansas City. But after benching Russell for the second time this season, you’ve got to believe that Cable has lost patience with Russell.

Right tackle Cornell Green says Russell shouldn’t take all of the blame, Raider receivers have to catch the ball. At last count, Oakland wide outs dropped eight balls against the Chiefs maligned secondary. “He’s in a tough predicament just because everybody wants him to save the Raiders, and it’s not about that.

“It’s more than what you see on the field. You have to give him the support and you have to block for him. For the most part we blocked good for him, but at the same time, the drops we can’t have that.’’  Russell completed 9 of 24 passes for 67 yards before being yanked in the 3rd quarter.

And dropped passes were a huge reason for the loss. None was any bigger than Darrius Heyward-Bey’s red zone gaff which snuffed out a late a comeback by the Raiders.

Trailing by six in the final seconds of the game, back-up quarterback Bruce Gradkowski hit Heyward-Bey right between the numbers, only to see the ball bounce into the hands Chiefs safety Mike Brown. 

The loss sends Oakland to the basement of the AFC West with a record of 2-7 and crushes any hope of second half turnaround.

Now what?

We’ll the 2010 draft has some possibilities. But given Oakland’s track record anything can happen here.

Let’s get take sneak-peek at the 2010 draft board and see who might be available.

The Rams, Browns, Bucs, Lions and Chiefs are projected to finish at or near the bottom of the league.

But you could easily add the Raiders into that mix.  For argument sake, let’s assume these projections hold and work from the current list.

At the top of the 2010 draft is the St. Louis Rams. There is no clear-cut favorite at No. 1 but St. Louis needs a quarterback and will look long and hard at Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen. Washington's Jake Locker has also been mentioned here.

The team must replace injury prone quarterback Marc Bulger soon and Clausen is a logical choice. He’s a strong armed signal caller who is trained under Charlie Weis’s pro-style offense.

At No. 2 the Browns will go with mammoth defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Nebraska’s 6-foot-4, 305-pound defensive monster is a ready made Haloti Ngata. The Browns have been awful against the rush, giving up 171 yards per game. It’s easy see Mangini taking a Vince Wilfork type player here.

Tampa should be looking offense to help compliment quarterback Josh Freeman. Dez Bryant could be the player that adds spark to the Bucs offense.

Detroit has more than one hole in the secondary and safety Eric Berry from Tennessee would fill the bill.  Defensive-minded coach Jim Schwartz has the Jeff Fisher blue-print on how to rebuild a team and it all starts on defense.

The Chiefs have a million dollar quarterback but a ten cent offensive line. Kansas City should be looking at tackle Russell Okung from Oklahoma State. But coach Todd Haley may go after Bryant if he’s available.

That brings us to the Raiders.  What will Al Davis do? We’ll a lot that depends on how this team finishes the season. The Raiders could and should go for the former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in Gerald McCoy.

McCoy is versatile enough to stop the run and the pass. Stopping the run has been a decade long problem in Oakland and McCoy would be a one-man wrecking crew in this department.

His push up the middle would allow Richard Seymour to play on the ends, forming a vice-like defense. Like in baseball, you’ve got to be strong up the middle and that’s what McCoy would bring to the Raiders.

Defensive tackle Terrance Cody from Alabama should be mentioned, but he doesn’t fit the Al Davis draft model. He’s a huge run stopper but not the athlete that Davis covets. 

On the other hand, Florida’s defensive end Carlos Dunlap has huge potential. According to draft experts, Dunlap is right in the Davis wheelhouse. Dunlap runs a 4.6 forty and at 6-foot-6, he’s reminiscent of Mario Williams. Sounds like another shot in the dark to me.