And the Raiders select ...
Kiffin loves Russell, but take praise with grain of salt
Posted: Tuesday March 27, 2007 3:35PM; Updated: Tuesday March 27, 2007 5:07PM
PHOENIX -- Oakland Raiders rookie head coach Lane Kiffin admitted Tuesday morning that when he watches LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell play football, he thinks of John Madden.
Well, sort of.
"With JaMarcus, you have someone who's like a video game, I guess,'' said Kiffin, whose table at the AFC head coaches media breakfast was jam-packed with reporters, in no small part because Oakland owns the top pick in next month's NFL Draft. "That's what I tell our guys. Just because he can make all these throws you can make on a video game.''
It figures, doesn't it? At 31, Kiffin is the youngest head coach in the league, so dropping a video-game reference into his scouting report of the strong-armed Russell only makes sense. I'm guessing Kiffin grew up playing some Madden himself. Probably still does.
Listening to Kiffin break down the draft's top two quarterbacks -- Russell and Notre Dame's Brady Quinn -- was pretty interesting and insightful. But take it for what it's worth, because this is lying season in the NFL, and there's very little genuine card-tipping that goes on when it comes to the upper tier of the draft.
Kiffin also made it clear that a big arm alone wasn't the only thing the Raiders are considering.
"There isn't a throw [Russell] can't make properly,'' Kiffin said. "And the throws he can make, I don't know if anybody else can make them. He can go way over there and throw the ball 70 yards back over there. That's real exciting and everything, but how many times does that happen a year? About two in 16 games? That's a scout's dream to have a guy like that, but you have to dig deeper than that because that doesn't happen that much.''
If you wanted to, you could infer the Raiders are inching away from making Russell their guy, believing his arm strength is more of a conversation piece than a vital part of the skill set he'll need in the NFL. But that may be a dangerous assumption to make, given that in the next breath, Kiffin is pouring on the praise for other parts of Russell's game.
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