Quick! We need more buildup to the NFL Draft! The top prospects do not have enough pressure on them. Will they bust or become perennial Pro Bowlers? Matt Sussman and Tuffy examine both sides of each coin, writing articles from the year 2011 "looking back" on the top 2007 draft picks. Just another reason to own a flux capacitor.
JaMarcus Russell as a Bust
CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns, ending an era of missed opportunities and frustration for fans and players alike, released JaMarcus Russell today. The third pick of the 2007 draft never met the lofty expectations placed on him by a desperate community.
When Russell first shook hands with Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel in front of the assembled Cleveland media in 2007, his potential was as massive as his frame. Even Crennel, a former defensive lineman, stood in awe of Russell's body. "He's a biggun, isn't he?" joked Crennel.
Russell's arm was legend before the draft. He showed off before the 2007 Sugar Bowl by throwing the ball nearly the length of the field and then sitting on the turf to throw another ball 40 yards. Lesser men tried to catch a Russell Express and earned broken fingers for their trouble.
Stuart Scott, carefully keeping his distance from the demonstration, noted to an ESPN colleague that Russell was fully capable of bettering Daunte Culpepper's best days. Scott creatively nicknamed Russell the Brown Cannon. While Russell was somewhat inexperienced compared to Brady Quinn, a fellow 2007 draftee, his athleticism provided a future previously unimaginable for Cleveland fans: a positive one.
The first hint of trouble came only two days later. The press conference introducing Russell came after a contract was agreed to but before it was formally signed. While both sides blamed the other, sources from both sides suggest Eric Metz, Russell's agent, encouraged Russell to press his advantage. Minor contract requests regarding entourages, locker room amenities, and a request for a steady stream of Vanilla Oreos turned into an extended holdout.