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And the Raiders select ... (cont.)

Posted: Tuesday March 27, 2007 3:35PM; Updated: Tuesday March 27, 2007 5:07PM
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"He's a unique leader,'' Kiffin said. "He's different (than Quinn). He's not very vocal, but if you watch those (LSU) players around him, he has a special quality. Brady's more an in-their-face leader. JaMarcus, they just follow him. Players follow him because of who he is. As you do more research on him, you see this is a real kid. He's a good-hearted kid. You watch him with little kids, and you watch him around everybody, whether it's the equipment guy or the head coach, and he's just been raised right. You can see the players respond to that.''

Other highlights of Kiffin's draft-related observations:


• On Quinn's strengths: "I love when Brady brings [his team] back. He's best when he's down. He's fun to watch in that situation. When he's down and starts bringing them back. He's been doing that for the past two years. He's a big-time competitor. He's fun. I've had some discussions with him, and he's extremely intelligent. I'm really excited about Brady, and I like him a lot.''

• On the notion Quinn is better prepared to play right away in the NFL, having starred for ex-Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis at Notre Dame: "I don't think it's a fair assessment to say he's more NFL ready. If you watch LSU film, JaMarcus is doing a lot of stuff. He's changing lots of plays, he's audibling to the run game. I think they're both extremely NFL ready.''

• On Russell proving he can play under center in the NFL, rather than in the shotgun formation, as he did much of the time in college: "That was a concern of mine. I wanted to see his workout under center, because he'd been in the gun so much. But he had really improved on it. He definitely had been working on it, getting into his three-step drop.''

• On his impression of Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson: "He seems perfect for the most part. You research him and you can't find a bad thing. When you're talking about the No. 1 pick, you're looking for bad things. You want to find bad things. But you can't find any negatives on the guy. He's got unbelievable character, and with the way he practices, and the way he works in the offseason. I watched him at his workout day, and I swear he didn't even stretch.''

I asked Kiffin if the Raiders knew yet who they're going to select at the top of the draft, or when they hoped to come to an organizational decision (read: Get the word from owner Al Davis)? It could all be subterfuge, but I don't think you can rule out Johnson, Quinn or Russell for Oakland. All three could wind up being the choice, even though Russell appears to be still in the pole position.

"We don't know [yet], but I don't think it's important to know right now,'' Kiffin said. "We're still going to bring some guys in and continue to evaluate them and do more background work on them. We have a good feel for it, but we don't have it nailed right now.''

The draft is still a month and a day away, but Kiffin and the Raiders know this much: If they're going to have any shot of pulling out of their four-year 15-49 tailspin in 2007, they've got to nail this pick.

"It's huge,'' Kiffin said of the franchise-wide importance of a successful No. 1 overall selection. "Not just because of the player, but the pressure that goes onto that player. What he has to deal with. You've got a lot of work besides just the football part of it that goes with it. Every day someone's going to expect you to do something great because of all the money and all the pressure that's on you.''

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