NFL

Bigger NFL Draft Bust: JaMarcus Russell or Ryan Leaf?

Ryan Leaf was an epic bust. JaMarcus Russell, through three seasons, has been, too. (Who knows if he’ll even have a 4th season with the Raiders … if he’s cut, would anyone scoop him up to play QB?). Here’s a breakdown between the two busts. It’s heads-or-tails close.

Jamarcus Russell stats:
No. 1 pick overall in 2007 draft. Adrian Peterson went 7th.
7-18 in 25 starts; appeared in 31 games. [When you take his guaranteed money into account, he received about $5 million per win.]
Completion percentage: 52 percent
18 TDs, 21 INTs
Sacked 70 times, fumbled 25 times

Rookie deal: Six-years, $61 million. Of that, $32 million was guaranteed. [Chronicle]
Misc: Weight issues a constant issue; a horrible offensive line hasn’t helped.

Ryan Leaf stats:
No. 2 pick overall in 1998. Chargers traded up to grab Leaf. Peyton Manning went 1st.
4-14 in 18 starts with San Diego, 0-3 with Dallas. [Note: Won his first two games as a starter!]
Completion percentage: 48 percent (with SD and Dallas)
14 TDs, 36 INTs
Sacked 65 times, fumbled 24 times

Rookie deal: $31.25-million, with a $11.25 million signing bonus.
Misc: Blowing up at a reporter certainly didn’t help his cause. Neither did the post-career arrests and incidents. Leaf clearly set the franchise back – from 1997-2003, the Chargers never finished above .500.

From an expectations standpoint, Leaf is the clearly the bigger bust. According to Chris Mortensen, Manning over Leaf wasn’t automatic in 1998. It was thought to be a virtual toss-up. And Leaf was a petulant, entitled punk, pissing off the front office frequently. What hurts Russell is the fact that a) Higher profile franchise, b) significantly more media/bloggers/pundits railing against Russell in the last three years on TV and the internet, scrutinizing his every failure C) while Leaf missed his entire second season due to a shoulder injury, the only injuries that have slowed Russell is his ballooning weight.

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