According to first-year Oakland head coach Lane Kiffin, the Raiders zeroed in on Russell early on during the evaluation process. That they waited some 10 minutes to make the pick didn't seem to matter much, other than flaming rumors that the team was trying to find a suitable trade for Moss.
Had they been able to make a deal prior to going on the clock Saturday, the Raiders might have been tempted to pick Georgia Tech wideout Calvin Johnson, widely regarded as the best overall player in the draft.
Instead, Oakland grabbed Russell, the 6-foot-5 ½, 265-pound phenom who passed for more than 6,000 yards during his college career and who will battle with Andrew Walter to be the Raiders' starting quarterback in 2007.
"This whole building is ecstatic about this pick and bringing him in here" Kiffin said. "I'm leading the charge. I might be more excited than anybody else I would think because I'd like to find somebody that was more excited than me because it would be hard to do because it is so important. That position is so important to winning and everybody in this room knows that. To get JaMarcus, it's a dream come true, it really is.
"Here's a kid that on his own put together (LSU's) 7-on-7 and team workouts in the offseason. He ran them. When a guy wasn't there, he called the defensive corner to get there. When a tackle wasn't there, he called em. He was the leader when no one was watching. That's what you want. You want you're quarterback to be a leader when you're not watching because you can't see him all the time. That's what he is. As you researched him, all the way back to high school, that's what everybody said about him. This guy is a natural leader and there's a great example. Here's a guy who on his own, he knows that's going to help the team, he's going to give up his time, he's going to make sure he's the leader and make sure everyone's there in the offseason and that's exactly what you're looking for."
Light bulbs flashed and Russell stood for countless pictures with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being announced as the first overall pick in the draft. His mother and some 45 family and friends were in attendance, ready to celebrate.
"I kind of had faith in it," Russell said. "Everybody had been talking about it for a while. 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."
Kiffin could barely contain his enthusiasm when discussing Russell but the same couldn't be same when the subject of Moss and his status on the roster arose.
Kiffin acknowledged that the had indeed been in discussion with multiple teams about potentially trading the once-great wideout but was non-committal when asked if Moss would still be on the Raiders at the end of Saturday's first three rounds of the draft.
"I don't know that. He is right now," Kiffin said. "I would assume he'll still be here by the end of the day. But we have had a number of calls about Randy and we've fielded those calls and had conversations."
Moss has been unhappy almost from the time he landed in Oakland two years ago. He repeatedly discussed his displeasure with the organization throughout 2006 and frequently dropped hints that the team might be best by trading him.
The Raiders initially balked at the idea but began listening to calls from other NFL teams this past offseason. The NFL Network reported that Oakland approached Moss about restructuring his contract -- he'll eat up nearly $12 million cap room next year -- but the receiver balked, further signaling his discontent. Russell is hopeful Moss will stick around.
"I would love to see him there," Russell said. "Just growing up and watching him as a kid and just seeing him on TV and the things he can do and what he brings to the football team while he's out there on the football field. I'm very happy to be a part of that and I hope he will be there."