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Russell?s red flags could make Quinn the first QB drafted in ?07
Pro Football Weekly
In the minds of many evaluators, including PFW resident draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki, there is a considerable gap between QBs JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn.
The way we hear it, it is Quinn, not Russell, who Nawrocki and a growing contingent of teams think will be the better pro. And perhaps to the surprise of many draft fans, more of the teams we consulted had finished their pre-Combine draft meetings thinking Quinn would be the better pro.
Multiple teams that have begun digging into Russell's background have been turned off by his lazy work habits and immaturity. When he took off his shirt at the Combine weigh-ins and exposed a very soft, fleshy body filled with baby fat, the concerns immediately heightened for one top-10 team that PFW spoke with, revealing what some consider to be the tip of the iceberg.
Much like Vince Young a year ago, whose poor Wonderlic test result was leaked and wound up setting in motion a lot of questions about how far he would fall, the significance of Russell's unshapely physique may be way overblown.
Our sources say Oakland?s Al Davis, who holds the top pick, is still chafed he decided not to take Matt Leinart a year ago and is dead-set on finding a signalcaller of the future to replace the recently released Aaron Brooks, whose option was not exercised after one year with the team.
Davis is widely assumed to favor the more strong-armed Russell, who better fits the vertical offense the Raiders have long run. However, had Davis made the call a year ago, our sources say he would have selected the more cerebral, NFL-ready Leinart, not the more strong-armed Jay Cutler, whom the Broncos traded up to select one pick later.
Said one astute, high-ranking evaluator, whose team has no need for a quarterback, of the draft's top two quarterbacks: ?Physically, arm-strength-wise, there is no question who has the advantage. But if you want to talk about mental aptitude, ability to escape pressure and make good decisions, it's not even close. There is a big ?miss? factor on Russell. He had a lot of up-and-down games, and he makes a lot of bad decisions. He's sitting in the middle of the second round right now on our board. He'll never make it that far, but that?s where his value is. After Quinn, I would be sweating if I needed a quarterback from the rest of this crop.?
If Davis fails to land a veteran passer such as Houston?s David Carr, who has been thrown on the trading block after his struggles last year, or Byron Leftwich, who may be dealt despite Jack Del Rio?s statement that he is the Jaguars? starter for 2007, don't be surprised if Quinn, not Russell, winds up becoming the first overall pick. Davis could be among those who are scared off by the red flags surrounding Russell and thus opt for Quinn. That could leave Russell, despite the concerns, falling only, like Young, to the No. 3 spot, where fellow Mobile, Ala., native and Browns GM Phil Savage would be waiting with open arms, the way we hear it.
Sources close to the Browns have even speculated that Savage, who helped advise Russell on his decision to enter the draft, has already informed Russell that he would not fall any further than the spot where the Browns were picking, and that he would be a lock top-four pick.