Raiders eye arm of future at Combine

When the Oakland Raiders cut Aaron Brooks as the NFL Combine in Indianapolis got underway, it may have sent a notice to the quarterbacks in attendance that their fate is directly tied to their workouts.

"Whether it's me or any other quarterback it really shows now," JaMarcus Russell noted of the Raiders setting themselves up to net a franchise quarterback.

But the decision will shape the future of the franchise and isn't something they can take lightly.

Which is why the Raiders met with Russell at the NFL Combine for a one-to-many interview session.

Over the last few years, teams have taken a quarterback high with varying results.

The Houston Texans have not done well behind David Carr – but he has also been massacred behind poor offensive line play.

The San Diego Chargers found a rhythm behind Drew Brees but surrounded him with a talented defense and star running back and saw Philip Rivers, a first round pick, continue the success by playing smart.

The New York Giants put every egg in the Eli Manning basket and are still unsure what they have. Manning shows flashes of brilliance but also has bouts of idiocy.

The Buffalo Bills have J.P. Losman and he too is an enigma. Blessed with a talented arm he makes some awful decisions.

The Cincinnati Bengals are riding the Carson Palmer wave and he is one of the best young quarterbacks – but has been derailed by a team that can't stay out of the police blotter.

Selecting a quarterback first overall will determine whether Oakland stays in the quagmire of defeat or resurfaces as an elite competitor.

"It's going to be a lot of hard work," Russell admitted. "If I go to the Raiders or wherever. ... Sometimes, it might take that one guy to spark everybody."

Russell did not work out at the NFL Combine but weighed in at a svelte 265-pounds in a 6-foot-5 frame.

The LSU quarterback who looks more like a defensive end was 25-4 in college and played well in the big game and finished in the top five in every career passing category kept by LSU. He passed for 3,129 yards on 232-of-342 passing, 67.8 percent, with 28 touchdowns to eight interceptions.

Known for his big arm, Russell is considered a bit raw but that arm may rival the bullet Michael Vick possesses – which raises the question whether his decision-making is more sound.

March 14 is a date circled already by the Oakland staff. That will be the day that Russell works out in front of scouts and coaches. Ten days prior, Quinn will have his first workout at Notre Dame. The lasting impression(s) will have a lot of say about the shape of the NFL Draft.

"You've got to be willing and ready for everything," Russell said. "People are going to be shooting at you. You've got to be ready. Just to be in that category, No. 1 in the draft out of so many guys, says a lot."

The Raiders will be watching, dissecting, waiting and pondering. The first meeting at the NFL Combine was but a precursor to the ultimate decision – one that will shape the franchise.


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