Sunday, April 29, 2007

Former Browns Consultant Praises Russell Pick

Former Browns' consultant Vic Carrucci has attempted to write a rare post-draft puff piece on JaMarcus Russell. What he succeeded in doing is writing an NFL piece that I would expect from a middle-schooler. Read at your own peril.

This was a slam-dunk. This was a no-brainer. This was the sensible decision once all of the nonsensical speculation finally stopped.

The Oakland Raiders could not pass on a quarterback. Not after saying no to Matt Leinart a year ago. Not while lacking a legitimate starting quarterback this year. Not with Lane Kiffin, their rookie head coach, needing a centerpiece to the explosive, quick-striking offense he is looking to build.

It's not like the JaMarcus Russell pick was made because anyone in the world thought he was the best player available. Like him or hate him, he's going to be the Raiders best QB since Rich Gannon retired--unless Josh McCown beats him to the punch.

So while you have to respect the Raiders for making the move they needed to make based on the information they had, it's obvious that the Raiders' methods of QB evaluation--like most of the league--are flawed, and that 99% of the population will realize this before Vic Carruci does.

He's "special".

Furthermore, the Raiders could not pass on one of the most talented passers to emerge from the college ranks in many years.

#1) They did.
#2) As you alluded to one paragraph before, they've proven the ability to pass on a franchise QB before this year also.

They could not pass on a quarterback with JaMarcus Russell's ultra-powerful arm or his extraordinary athleticism for someone with a towering, 6-foot-5-plus, 256-pound frame.

What about Calvin Johnson? What about him? He is an incredibly talented wide receiver, but what good would that be with no one to throw him the ball.

For evidence on why a 6-5 256 lb frame means about as much to being a good QB as having a gigantic wang, see this post.

If you want evidence on why an ultra-powerful arm and overrated atleticism aren't very valuable, go read everything we've ever written, or just sit in the corner and let common sense set in.

I'm really sorry that I didn't get a chance to do more Calvin Johnson posting prior to the draft, but basically, receivers are improperly valued for a plethora of reasons, and Calvin Johnson will likely not do any "game redefining" during his NFL tenure.

What about Brady Quinn? What about him? He had an outstanding collegiate career, but he does not possess the same pure talent as Russell. No other quarterback in the 2007 college crop does. No quarterback currently in the league can match his arm strength.

Russell was the choice. Russell always was the choice.

I like the part where Vic Carruci writes of Quinn, "He had an outstading collegiate career" only to realize that this fact completely trumps all of his weak Russell points. He sheepishly tosses Quinn to the side of the road, and goes back to giving Russell a hummer.

Yes, he has some rough spots that were evident even during his most dominant moments at LSU. All rookies do. Kiffin and the rest of the Raiders' coaching staff are capable of smoothing them out.

It also helps when you have the tremendous foundation that Russell provides. He still will be able to do good things even before he learns what he needs to learn to become a consistently effective NFL quarterback.

Well, of course. In sabremetric football circles, and in MOST conventional circles, it's pretty much accepted--and evidenced--that no QB as a rookie will play anywhere near what he will be as a guy in his prime. Quinn is no more of an exception than Russell is.

The second statement is pretty much true also. I mean, sure Russell will only be a shell of his not so great potential, but just because he will be a complete "deer-in-the-headlights" rookie that has little chance of being replacement level does not mean that he won't rifle interceptions and take sacks with the utmost arm strength and falling force respectively.

I've heard the criticism that the importance of Russell's arm strength is overrated. It isn't.

Um, okay?

I've heard that the forecast for tomorrow for Chicago, Illinois will be 75 and sunny. But trust me, it won't be!

Your evidence?

No, he won't be throwing long passes on every down or on most downs. But the mere fact he poses a deep-ball threat is going to allow him to make an impact that Quinn and other rookie quarterbacks with less powerful arms aren't able to make. The respect opposing defenses must show Russell for his ability to make a game-breaking play with one flick of the wrist alters their coverage in ways that should allow the Raiders to run more effectively and/or make plays with short and intermediate passes.

This is not how football is played. Number one, no amount of respect for his arm will make up for a typical rookie QB performance. He will be costing the Raiders points. Quinn might be also, but he has a far better chance of being above replacement level. At least, thats what his projection tells me. Number two, you can not just assume that defenses will play JaMarcus Russell differently than any other crappy QB with a big arm.

Then again, after watching what his arm strength did to warp the minds of these draft analysts, defensive coordinators should be a bunch of sitting ducks, so long as he keeps his golden arm gleaming and polished.

I've heard criticism that the importance of Russell's standout performance in the Sugar Bowl is overrated. It isn't. Russell gave his best performance in the biggest game of his career, and that says plenty about him as a competitor and about what he can do at the next level. The fact he clearly overshadowed Quinn is equally important, because Quinn once held the distinction of being the best quarterback in the draft. Russell went a long way toward making him second best.

I think JaMarcus Russell proved clearly that he could do exactly to the Irish secondary what future NFL studs like Pat Cowan, Joe Dailey, John David Booty, Drew Stanton, Curtis Painter, and even Reggie Ball could do with superior offensive talent. All aboard the Reggie Ball man train!

Seriously, the notion that one "big" game against a weak opponent should be weighed any more greatly than any game Russell didn't play as well in is sick, twisted, disgusting, and perhaps the worst possible evaluation of a QB .

Russell isn't defined solely by his immense physical skills. He also has exceptional awareness in the pocket and his instincts are superb.

I think Carriuci's observation right here is more than a bit off. But don't take my word for it, how about we take the word of the guy who created the fucking QB projection system:

David Lewin writes, "An even bigger issue with Russell is that he is an atrocious decision maker. He consistently throws the ball into double and triple coverage. Like Favre he often gets away with it by making spectacular throws. Still, field vision is the single most important quality for a quarterback. You can get away with being average in this regard if you have superior arm strength and accuracy, but Russell still has a ways to go before he can be considered average at seeing the field."

Lewin's analysis is actually defended by real life "examples" and anecdotal evidence, which means it's "more accurate than" Carruci's baseless statement.

As the top overall pick of the draft, he must deliver in a big way. Every bit as big as his talent and physique says he can.

"Whether it's other people or myself, I set my standards very high and for the expectations that everybody has," Russell said. "But you know, you can only do what God has set for you to do. I'll be very pleased to go out there and work as hard as I can to make everything possible for the Raiders."

As the top overall draft pick, Russell will get a contract that is likely 2 years longer, and worth about 6 million more on a per season basis than Brady Quinn will after his draft day free fall.

Meanwhile, the Browns will build around their powerful offensive line and QB, and the Raiders will build around a weak QB and offense with what little cap room they have left. The Browns will become a perennial playoff contender, and the Raiders will not.

And the most ironic part in all of this is that Vic Carrucci got fired from his post as consultant to the Browns, allowing for this to happen.

No comments: