By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, May 6th, 2011 at 3:30 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Today marks a year since the Raiders released quarterback JaMarcus Russell, marking the end of an error after three years and $39 million.
Perhaps they would have avoided the mistake entirely with the kind of research done by Pro Football Weekly’s Nolan Nawrocki, whose assessment of Russell in his 2007 draft guide was eerily acccurate. Nawrocki is the same guy who eviscerated Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, criticizing his “fake smile,” calling him disingenuous and having an “enormous ego and sense of entitlement.”
We’ll know in three years whether Nawrocki, who admitted he never spoke to Newton, was off base.
But if he is even as close to being on the mark as he was with Russell, the Panthers have reason to be worried.
Here was Nawrocki’s assessment in the 2007 Pro Football Weekly draft report:
Positives: Has all the physical ability in the world and is one of the most naturally gifted throwers ever to play the game. Has rare size and arm strength and can really power the ball down the field. Effortless thrower who flicks the ball with ease. Has a 100 m.p.h. fastball and can zing it into tight coverage. Is tough to bring down and not easily sacked. Stands tall in the pocket, can brush off the pass rush and deliver after taking a hit. Shows some agility on the move once he gets going.
Negatives: Showed up overweight at the Combine and has a flabby body that looks like it has not seen a weight room. Relies too much on his arm and natural ability and does not like to work. Has a lackadaisical approach to the game, nearly lost his job in a competition prior to his junior season and needs to take the game more seriously. Struggled to put points on the board vs. the speed of Auburn’s and Florida’s defenses, and when he is forced to make quick reads, he struggles. Does not find second and third receivers as fast as he has too. Does not have a consistent throwing motion, and the ball tends to come out at different places every time. Does not protect the football well. Does not show great timing or anticipation. Telegraphs his passes and rarely looks off the high safety (see Florida game). Will require very tough coaching from a strong, authoritative figure, or he will get away with everything he can and may never develop. Acts as if he has made it already and does not realize how far he has to go.
Summary: Has as much potential as any quarterback to enter the draft, but the team that drafts him better have an experienced and patient veteran coaching staff in place to provide the tough coaching he will need to develop. For as much upside as he has — and it’s off the charts — his downside is just as great, and he could be out of the league just as fast as he is in the Pro Bowl. A very high-risk, high-reward pick, Russell is the type of player who could lose his motivation after a big payday. Whoever drafts him better make sure they properly evaluate his mental makeup and character, or they could set back their franchise at least three years. Strikingly similar to Vikings 1999 11th overall draft pick and current Dolphins QB Daunte Culpepper, whose only success has come under the demanding Scott Linehan, but Russell is not as athletic nor does he have Culpepper’s scrambling ability.
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. PARK DEDICATION
More than, 1000 children, community residents and celebrities are scheduled to be in attendance Saturdya at the dedication of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park.
The park was funded through grants with support of the Raiders and will have fields for football and soccer as well as a track, picnic areas and new landscaping. It will include synthetic sports turf.
The opening is scheduled between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at 360 Harbour Way South, Richmond. Raiders legend Jim Otto is scheduled to attend as well as addtional team employees.
SHOW YOUR RAIDERS SCHOOL SPIRIT
A visit from Raiders coach Hue Jackson is the prize as schools grades kindergarten through high school compete in a “Show Your Raiders School Spirit” contest as sponsored by the club.