NEW YORK - JaMarcus Russell barely had to wait before taking the stage as an Oakland Raider at Saturday's NFL draft. Brady Quinn turned out to be the forgotten quarterback, lingering long after Russell was picked, until Cleveland took him 22nd.
Russell was the top choice, by the offense-deficient Raiders. The 6-foot-6 junior QB who can throw the ball 80 yards fits the mold for Al Davis, who loves the deep ball.
LSU players had plenty of draft-day luster. Five spots after Russell, Tigers safety LaRon Landry went to Washington, and two more Tigers were chosen later in the opening round.
Notre Dame's Quinn sat and watched 21 players get called before he went to the Browns, the team he grew up rooting for in Dublin, Ohio. Once considered the best prospect in this year's crop, he was still available when the Browns traded with Dallas to get back into the first round.
When selected, Quinn let out a big sigh of relief before shaking commissioner Roger Goodell's hand, and fans who booed him before the draft cheered him this time.
"I felt like the weight of the world was lifted of my shoulders," Quinn said. "The love-hate relationship comes from going to Notre Dame. It's like the Yankees, you either love 'em or hate 'em.
"I got great advice beforehand and that was just to be patient. I said before that I was going to be open-minded, and that's the tough thing. I was open-minded, and I had a point in my head where I didn't think I was going to fall any further, and it obviously exceeded that."
Russell had no such anxious moments.
When Goodell, conducting his first draft as commissioner, announced Russell's name, Raiders fans in the crowd cheered loudly. But there was a mixture of cheers and boos when Russell, who is bigger than some NFL linemen, came on stage to don a Raiders hat and hold up a No. 1 black jersey.
Then came chants of "L-S-U, L-S-U" for the man who soon will be in charge of the Oakland offense.
"I kind of had faith in it. Everybody had been talking about it for a while," Russell said of being chosen first. "It's a dream come true. Growing up as a kid playing every sport in life and always seeing the guys on the professional level, and here I am today.
"I can't wait to get in the black and silver and get to work."
While he works for a team that went 2-14 last season and scored only 168 points, Landry heads to the Redskins to team with Sean Taylor in what could be a dynamic set of safeties.
"Our feeling there was, with this pick, we need to pick someone that we feel is going to play for a long time," Washington's veteran coach, Joe Gibbs, said, "and have a chance to do some outstanding things."
LSU wide receiver Dwayne Bowe went 23rd to Kansas City, and wideout Craig Davis was chosen 30th by San Diego. It's the first time LSU has had four first-round picks.
Quinn's draft day turned into an agonizing wait.
He kept flashing a smile that became harder to maintain with each selection, perhaps recalling how Matt Leinart dropped last year and Aaron Rodgers plummeted in 2005. Leinart only fell to 10th to Arizona; Rodgers went 24th overall to Green Bay.
When Miami selected Ohio State wide receiver-kick returner Ted Ginn Jr. at No. 9 instead of Quinn, Dolphins fans at Radio City Music Hall let out a gasp and booed. And then a huge portion of he crowd began chanting, "BRADY, BRADY."
At one point the NFL allowed Quinn to wait it out in a room away from TV cameras.
"I guess just the opportunity to have Cleveland come back around and giving me a chance to play there is just something that I've always dreamed of doing," Quinn said.
"I was surprised that he went past nine. I thought he could have gone anywhere from the first pick in the draft to the ninth pick in the draft," said Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis. "I was surprised because when ... you establish a floor and you figure Miami is the floor, and he doesn't get picked then, then you're definitely surprised."
The Browns gave a second-round choice and next year's No. 1 to the Cowboys to get Quinn. They could've had him at No. 3 but took Wisconsin offensive tackle Joe Thomas instead.
Thomas spent the morning fishing back home rather than attend the draft.
"It didn't surprise me," Thomas said of being taken by the Browns.
"I hoped for a few months that Cleveland would pick me. They showed a lot of interest in me all the way along."
After Russell's selection, Detroit declined several trade options for the No. 2 overall pick and chose wide receiver Calvin Johnson of Georgia Tech, considered the best athlete available. It was the fourth time in five years the Lions chose a wideout high in the draft. Only one of the others, Roy Williams, has succeeded in Detroit. Johnson, an All-America junior known as "Spider-Man," is 6-4 and 237 pounds and can run a 4.35 in the 40.
"I told him when he was here (for a pre-draft visit) that he wouldn't get past 2," Lions president Matt Millen said. "This guy is the real deal."
Tampa Bay picked the first defensive player, Clemson end Gaines Adams, who at 6-5 is an inch shorter and 3 pounds lighter than Russell.
"Oh, it's a tremendous honor," Adams said of being the top defensive selection. "There's a lot of great defensive players that are out in this draft and it's just an honor to me to be one of the first ones chosen."
Arizona also went for offensive line help at No. 5, taking Penn State tackle Levi Brown, who should replace Leonard Davis, now with Dallas after leaving as a free agent.
Adrian Peterson of Oklahoma was chosen by Minnesota, which apparently was unconcerned by the running back's history of injuries in college.
"I don't want to say necessarily disappointed because my dream has come true," Peterson said of sliding to seventh overall. "You never put all your eggs in one basket. I am just excited."
At No. 8, Arkansas defensive end Jamaal Anderson went to Atlanta, which reached the Super Bowl in 1999 with a running back named Jamal Anderson.
Then Miami got Ginn.
"I promise you that Ted Ginn is going to be someone you're going to enjoy watching play for a long, long time as a Miami Dolphin," coach Cam Cameron said.
But Johnson was the true prize at wide receiver, and Lions coordinator Mike Martz has a history of using such players well.
"He's ecstatic, just like me," Johnson said of Martz. "Like I said, I'm going to be in a good situation."
The 10th pick was 19-year-old defensive tackle Amobi Okoye of Louisville, by Houston. He's the youngest player drafted in the first round since the merger and will join last year's No. 1 overall pick, defensive end Mario Williams, on the line.
Johnson, Adams and Okoye all reportedly admitted in team interviews at the NFL combine that they had tried marijuana. That clearly didn't hurt their stock.
San Francisco followed by choosing the best linebacker in the draft, Mississippi's Patrick Willis. Buffalo, selected next, was interested in Willis as well, but settled for California running back Marshawn Lynch. Lynch could replace Willis McGahee, who was traded to Baltimore in the offseason.
The Jets and Panthers swung the first trade of the day, with New York moving up from 25th overall to 14th for Pittsburgh's Darrelle Revis, the first cornerback selected Saturday. The Jets gave their first, a second-rounder and a fifth-rounder for Revis, who also returns kicks. Carolina also gave New York a sixth-round choice.
Late in the opening round, San Francisco sent its 2008 first-rounder to New England to get the 28th spot, where the Niners picked offensive tackle Joe Staley of Central Michigan.
Midway into the second round, the 49ers got back an '08 first-round pick from the Colts for a pick Indianapolis used to take Arkansas tackle Tony Ugoh.
At one point in the 6-hour, 8-minute first round - the longest ever - nine straight defensive players were chosen.
In all, 17 defensive players were taken, and 15 on offense. Fourteen underclassmen were selected and 11 Southeastern Conference players went in the opening round.
The first three rounds took a total of 11 hours, 4 minutes - also the longest ever.
comments powered by Disqus