The battle begins: Brady Quinn vs. JaMarcus Russell
Posted: Wednesday January 3, 2007 3:48PM; Updated: Thursday January 4, 2007 10:22AM
LSU's JaMarcus Russell (2,797 yards, 27 TDs this season) is quickly climbing up the draft charts and may even supplant Brady Quinn at No. 1.
By Tony Pauline, Special to SI.com
As the nation tunes in to the Sugar Bowl tonight, NFL scouts will be watching closely as well. While Notre Dame and LSU duke it out, the quarterbacks of each team will be auditioning in what could be a hotly contested battle to see who will become the No. 1 pick in April's NFL draft.
With the quarterback-starved Oakland Raiders holding the first pick, a lot of people feel Notre Dame's Brady Quinn will be wearing the silver and black next season. But that sentiment may be a bit premature.
There are several people in the scouting community who feel that LSU junior JaMarcus Russell has the best NFL potential of any quarterback in the nation. In their minds it is Russell, not Quinn, who should be the first quarterback selected, if Russell leaves school early, as expected.
Much was expected from Quinn in his final season in South Bend. The strong-armed pocket passer displayed signs of brilliance as a junior in '05 and possessed all the tools in Charlie Weis' NFL system to be labeled as a "franchise quarterback." But Quinn did not deliver in his senior year, according to some NFL scouts. Inconsistent play through much of the season -- which included poor decision making, less-than-desirable accuracy and the inability to win big games -- has diminished his value.
Russell, on the other hand, had a career season, showing improvement in all aspects of his game. He completed 68.5 percent of his throws and his touchdown passes and passing yards both increased. He also decreased the number of interceptions thrown and sacks taken. Most impressively, Russell showed remarkable poise and good decision-making compared to previous seasons. He slowly morphed from an athlete and thrower into a complete passer. Many in the scouting community feel Russell has the strongest arm in the nation, as well as tremendous size. He's already drawing comparisons to Daunte Culpepper because of his similar physical stature and style of play.
So who will be the first quarterback selected in April's draft, Quinn or Russell?
While the Sugar Bowl will end around midnight tonight, the speculation about who will be the No. 1 pick will go on for months.