LSU's Russell puts on impressive show for scouts
BATON ROUGE, La. -- More than 100 representatives from NFL teams descended on the LSU campus Wednesday to watch the auditions of quarterback JaMarcus Russell and three of his former Tigers teammates who should come off the board within the first 40 picks of April's draft.
First-year head coach Lane Kiffin of the Oakland Raiders, who hold the No. 1 overall pick and are expected to use it on Russell, was among the coaches, scouts and front-office officials on hand. Others included Cleveland Browns GM Phil Savage; Washington Redskins vice president Vinny Cerrato; Tampa Bay Buccaneers GM Bruce Allen; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton; and Minnesota Vikings GM Rick Spielman.
While Russell is expected to come off the board long before any of those teams select, there were at least three other former LSU players worth watching -- and worth a first- or second-round pick. Safety Laron Landry could be a top-10 selection, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is a first-round talent and Craig Davis could be selected in the early to middle portion of the second round.
Russell was the star of Wednesday's show, however. He weighed in at 256 pounds -- nine pounds lighter than at the scouting combine just more than two weeks ago and spot on his playing weight -- and ran a 4.84 40-yard dash.
"That's a pretty good time," said Todd McShay, senior draft analyst for ESPN's Scouts Inc. "Compare that to [Ohio State's] Troy Smith, who's 6 feet tall and 220 pounds and ran a 4.77."
Russell threw 75 passes during his throwing session and only missed on about four or five, according to McShay.
"His passing session was the most impressive of all the pro days I've been to," McShay said. "His footwork for such a big quarterback was surprising. He was nimble in his dropbacks and when he's rolling out and throwing on the run. We all knew coming in that his arm strength is extraordinary. The ball just explodes out of his hands. His 73rd, 74th and 75th throws, he was flicking the ball 60 yards with his wrist and putting it right on the numbers."
Other notable measurements for Russell were his arm length of 34½ inches -- "Left tackle size," McShay said -- and his hand size of 9½ inches -- "Big, but not the biggest," McShay said. "Just above the average for a quarterback."
Among the other stars Wednesday were receivers Bowe and Davis, both of whom improved their 40 times from the combine. Bowe ran a 4.51 at the combine but lowered it to 4.40 on Wednesday. After running 4.49 at the combine (and pulling a groin muscle in the process), Davis blazed to a 4.38. However, he tweaked his groin again later in the day while catching passes from Russell.