Al Davis: JaMarcus Russell and Oakland Raiders Owner's 7 Worst Draft Mishaps
Today, Al Davis is being remembered as the NFL giant he once was. The man—who died at the age of 82—built the Oakland Raiders from the ground up as a head coach and eventually became the team's owner.
Davis is rightfully being described as a legend, but he didn't experience much success as of late. In fact, the former AFL commissioner has most recently been talked about as a terrible general manager.
While so many acting honorably and commending Davis for his many great accomplishments, let's take a look at his equally famous draft busts.
7. Robert Gallery
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In the 2004 draft, Robert Gallery was considered one of the elite players. At 6'7", 325 lbs., the Iowa left tackle had great size and athleticism.
Gallery played with a mean streak. Pass rushers couldn't get by him, and in the run game no one could evade him. With the second pick of the draft, the Oakland Raiders got their franchise left tackle.
They got a bust.
The "can't miss" left tackle had extremely short arms and struggled in pass protection. Oakland tried Gallery at right tackle, but even there, defensive ends were too quick for him.
At guard, Gallery was considerably better. But he was never an elite interior lineman and did not come close to being worthy of a top-five draft pick.
6. Darrius Heyward-Bey
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It was widely accepted that the Raiders would be drafting a wide receiver with the seventh pick in 2009, but not many expected them to take Darrius Heyward-Bey. Though Michael Crabree was considered the top wide receiver in the draft, most thought Oakland would target Jeremy Maclin.
Maclin was fast enough to fit the Raiders' down-field passing scheme and a good player overall. The Missouri product was considered a legitimate top 10 or 15 pick, so he wasn't much of a reach.
The Raiders drafted Heyward-Bey.
Unlike Maclin, Heyward-Bey was a reach, but the 6'3", 210-pound Maryland wide out ran a 4.25 40-yard dash. Al Davis couldn't resist that type of speed.
Three years later, Heyward-Bey has 654 receiving yards. Maclin has 2,071.
5. Rickey Dudley
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Drafted ninth overall in the 1996 draft, Dudley never panned out with the Raiders or anyone else. The Ohio State two-sport athlete was notorious for dropped passes and never lived up to his enormous expectations.
The few tight ends that are drafted in the top 10 are expected to become elite players. Dudley had a few decent seasons in Oakland, but in his five seasons with the team, he only exceeded 550 receiving yards on two occasions.
Dudley would spend another four seasons in the NFL after leaving the Raiders, but he only gained a total of 397 yards following the 2000 season.
Perhaps the biggest reason for Dudley's bust status is who Oakland could have had with the pick. Ray Lewis was in the 1996 NFL draft, and the Raiders have had a hole at linebacker for years.
4. John Clay
Taken with the 15th overall pick in the 1987 draft, Clay lasted just two years in the NFL. The offensive tackle played one season with the Raiders before the team shipped him to San Diego.
Clay would play in only two games for the Chargers, who gave up All-Pro offensive tackle Jim Lachey in order to acquire him.
The Missouri offensive tackle played just 12 games in the NFL and busted for not one, but two different teams.
3. Bob Buczkowski
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The 24th overall pick in 1986, Bob Buczkowski didn't play in a game until his second season. Over the course of his first three seasons, the defensive end played in a total of six games. He played in 15 games with the Browns in 1990, but then his career was done.
The Pittsburgh pass-rusher accumulated an impressive 1.5 sacks and zero forced fumbles during his short career. Long after he busted out of the NFL, Buczkowski was arrested for possession and delivery of a controlled substance, promoting prostitution and criminal conspiracy.
Buczkowski was sentenced to jail time, establishing himself as a bust off the field, as well as on it.
2. Todd Marinovich
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Marinovich was drafted with the 24th pick in 1991 and would go on to play in eight games. The USC quarterback had some drug problems, but really just didn't enjoy playing football.
Marinovich threw eight touchdowns and nine interceptions in his two seasons with the Raiders. The first-round draft choice was actually well known for playing while high on drugs.
In the same draft as Marinovich was a quarterback by the name of Brett Favre. It's impossible to say whether or not Favre would have succeeded with the Raiders, but it wouldn't even be possible for him to do worse than Marinovich did.
1. JaMarcus Russell
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In 2007, with the No. 1 pick in the draft, the Oakland Raiders selected JaMarcus Russell.
Al Davis had various options and could hardly go wrong with the pick. Brady Quinn and Russell were considered high level quarterback prospects. Joe Thomas was an elite left tackle. Calvin Johnson was a physical freak and a wide receiver for the ages. Adrian Peterson was a future star.
Many thought that Davis would go with Johnson. The 6'5", 239-pound wideout ran a 4.35 40-yard dash and was a physical specimen. He was a guranteed star.
Davis went with Russell.
The LSU quarterback was huge—6'6", 260-pounds—and had a rocket arm. Few quarterbacks were more physically talented and Davis thought he had his version of John Elway.
Right away, Russell started off badly. He held out into the season and played in just four games with little success. In 2008, Russell started in 15 games and struggled immensely. The young quarterback had shown himself to be incredibly lazy and unintelligent.
After another dreadful season in 2009, Oakland cut their losses and released Russell. The former Raider is now considered one of the NFL's top two biggest draft busts ever and is unlikely to get another chance in the NFL.