At this point is his career, to say that JaMarcus Russell has been a disappointment would be the understatement of the century. For whatever reason you may wish to give, he has failed to live up to the expectations of a #1 draft pick (or a halfway decent NFL quarterback). He has often been compared to another highly drafted quarterback who is synonymous with the words “draft bust”, Ryan Leaf. But is it fair to compare the two? Are their careers strikingly similar? Is it fair for Russell’s level of play to be referred to as “Leafian”? Let’s see.
Ryan Leaf helped revive the Washington State University football program, leading them to their first Pac-10 championship. After a controversial loss to Michigan in the Rose Bowl, Leaf decided to forgo his senior season and enter the draft. The San Diego Chargers, coming off a 4-12 season, were in desperate need of a quarterback, so they made a trade with the Arizona Cardinals to assure them that they would get either Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf. The Colts selected Manning with the first pick (and as they say the rest is history) and the Chargers selected Leaf. Leaf was chosen ahead of future (good) NFL quarterbacks Charlie Batch, Brian Griese, and Matt Hasselbeck. Ironically, quarterback Moses Moreno was drafted by Chicago in the same draft, and Moreno would be one of the quarterbacks that replaced Leaf. (It is hilarious to mention that Ryan Leaf said, "I'm looking forward to a 15 year career, a couple of trips to the Super Bowl, and a parade through downtown San Diego." Yeah, how’d that work out?)
JaMarcus Russell was a key part of the LSU Tigers resurgence, leading his team to a Sugar Bowl victory over draft classmate Brady Quinn and Notre Dame (this game signaled the beginning of the end for one Charlie Weis, but I digress). Russell also chose to forgo his senior season and entered the draft. The Raiders held the first pick in the draft, and elected to take Russell. Other quarterbacks selected after Russell include Brady Quinn (???), Drew Stanton (decent backup) Trent Edwards (decent starter), Kevin Kolb (decent starter), and Isaiah Stanback (converted to WR, currently with the New England Patriots). That’s not exactly a who’s who of quarterbacks, but the following players: Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Darrelle Revis, Patrick Willis, and Michael Griffin, are among the best in the league at their respective positions.
JaMarcus Russel’s rookie season was derailed by him wanting large amounts of money, caushing him to holdout. Ryan Leaf’s rookie season was derailed him displaying large levels of suck, causing him to have a seat on the bench. Ryan Leaf played in 25 career games, so in the issue of fairness, we should compare his stats to Russell’s stats in 25 games. Discounting the four games Russell appeared in as a rookie, as of now he’s appeared in 25 NFL games.
Mr. Leaf’s stats: 317/655 passing (48.4% completion), 3,666 yards, 14 touchdowns, 36 interceptions, 16 fumbles
Mr. Russell’s stats: 304/589 passing (51.6% completion) 15 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, 12 fumbles
In my opinion, JaMarcus Russell is about a Level 3 Leafian (High level is 5). What do you think?