Lane Kiffin: I wanted Calvin Johnson, Al Davis drafted JaMarcus Russell

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Lane Kiffin has been out of the NFL for 12 years and is now the head coach at Ole Miss, but he’s still not completely over the one who got away during his first year as head coach of the Raiders.

Kiffin told Dan LeBatard today that in the 2007 NFL draft, Kiffin was sure selecting JaMarcus Russell first overall was going to be a mistake, but the late Raiders owner Al Davis was insistent on it, having watched Russell play well in the Sugar Bowl.

“This is nothing against JaMarcus,” Kiffin said. “It was midnight the night before the draft. I said, ‘We’re going to pay this guy $63 million and he’s not ready for it.’ I said I wouldn’t be ready for it at 21. He’s not ready for that and hasn’t played very much. And Mr. Davis is obsessed with the Sugar Bowl game when he beat Notre Dame. He watched that game on TV so he was just obsessed with that.”

Kiffin said he wanted Calvin Johnson, who went to the Lions with the No. 2 overall pick.

“Calvin Johnson was there. I said, Calvin Johnson is the best receiver I’ve ever seen, ever, work out in my life. This guy is going to be one of the best ever. But he was just set in his mind, and obviously it was his franchise, so that’s the direction we went,” Kiffin said.

Kiffin and Davis butted heads about Russell and much else, and Kiffin was fired just four games into his second season with the Raiders.

13 responses to “Lane Kiffin: I wanted Calvin Johnson, Al Davis drafted JaMarcus Russell

  1. Absolutely true. Scouts felt the same way. Read about it in Al Davis. Behind the Raiders Shield. Available on Amazon.

  2. How many super bowls did Calvin Johnson win? How many playoff games? Al Davis is a HOFer and multiple super bowl winner.

  3. Does he have notes, emails or other communication which shows this to be true? Jamarcus Russell is the worst number 1 draft pick of all time. If you watched LSU in 2006 before that draft you knew he was not NFL ready. It had nothing to do with the money or his age, it was his preparation. The problem with big programs like an LSU or Alabama, is that the talent they have is very good. This talent masks individual problems that a team can cover up. For his college career he had a completion percentage less than 62% and averaged less than 0.6 yards per rush. His longest pass went for 58 yards. His senior numbers were more similar to Joe Burrow’s junior year.

  4. Sure you did bud. I guess that’s why the Raiders were negotiating with Brady Quinn before that draft. Because that surely sounds like the type of QB that Al Davis went for. The years only keep proving Davis right as they go on when everyone listened to this turd back then for some reason. Even this self-serving garbage since he was the player at the top of that draft who is a Hall of Famer besides Peterson, but htis idiot doesn’t even realize the irony since the Lions took him with a much better roster than the Raiders had back then tehn and ended up 0-16 two years later. I’m sure the great Lane Kiffin would have prevented that for them, lol.

  5. Kiffin had six other picks in top 110 to jump on the table and make a case for someone. He had recruited a lot of the eligible players and should have had some insight into who to take. He whiffed badly. Obviously situation in Oakland was poor. If it weren’t he would not have been hired as a 32-year old, or whatever he was. You make the most of your opportunities. Tomlin was hired in the same coaching cycle and is still there. If Kiffin had done something well, everyone would have given him a mulligan because it was Davis and Oakland, and he would have gotten another chance. Instead he tried to kick a 70-yard FG and has flipped off every subsequent employer. Ole Miss will regret hiring him as much as fans of Oakland, Tenn. and USC.

    Jon Kingdon, if that is you, liking the book. Q If JaMarcus had not lost so many family members so quickly, could he have been successful? From outside, seemed lack of structure as big a problem as $$. For one of worst picks ever, he had a fair amount of 4th Q and final drive comebacks. Seemed like players wanted to follow him.

  6. Al Davis was great at putting together teams in his prime – especially when he had Ron Wolf as his right hand. But by 2007 Al had basically lost it due largely to senility. As such the disastrous choice to select Jamarcus Russell with the #1 overall pick was just one of many bad decisions he made in his last years.

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