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3 biggest NFL draft busts in Las Vegas Raiders history

JaMarcus Russell with the Oakland Raiders
JaMarcus Russell with the Oakland Raiders
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Matthew Wear

The Las Vegas Raiders' front office has had mixed success in recent NFL drafts but will be looking forward to the 2022 draft, which is just around the corner. Las Vegas has a history of reaching in recent drafts, going for team needs over the best player available, which sometimes does work, but not so much in the Raiders' case.

This includes taking DE Clelin Ferrell fourth-overall in the 2019 draft, and while he's still in Vegas, he has only put up eight sacks in his three NFL seasons, not the kind of production you'd expect from a fourth-overall pick. Despite little production, Ferrell doesn't make our list of Raiders draft busts and, in truth, isn't that close to making it.

Here are the three biggest draft busts in the Las Vegas Raiders' history.

Las Vegas Raiders' biggest NFL draft busts

#3 - Damon Arnette - Cornerback

Las Vegas Raiders' Damon Arnette and Derek Carr
Las Vegas Raiders' Damon Arnette and Derek Carr

Damon Arnette was taken with the Las Vegas Raiders' first-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, and it was hoped that the former Ohio State man could be a shutdown corner in the league for years to come.

However, it didn't go to plan as Arnette was placed on injured reserve with a thumb injury during his rookie year, playing in only nine games across the campaign. Despite this, there was optimism that Arnette could shine in 2021, with veteran Casey Hayward coming in to bring some experience to Vegas' secondary.

Arnette, however, faced multiple legal issues during the 2021 season, which included him being accused of crashing his car into a woman and fleeing the scene before being filmed brandishing a firearm on video and making death threats. Following the release of the footage, he was immediately released by Las Vegas.

Since then, he has spent time with the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs. In January 2022, he was arrested on assault with a deadly weapon charge, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, and two counts of possession of controlled substances. The Chiefs would release him following the arrests.

#Raiders CB Damon Arnette flashing guns and threatening to kill someone πŸ‘€Arnette already has multiple lawsuits against him https://t.co/ReQW7U0EBk

#2 - Darrius Heyward-Bey - Wide Receiver

Oakland Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey
Oakland Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey

The Raiders took Darrius Heyward-Bey with the seventh-overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, as they were dazzled by the potential he displayed while at Maryland and his 4.30 40-yard dash at the Combine.

However, Heyward-Bey didn't fulfill his potential once he reached the NFL. In four seasons in Oakland, he didn't catch more than 60% of his targets once, and he only went over 650 yards once, in 2011, when he had 975 receiving yards.

This isn't the kind of stat line you'd expect from an early first-round pick, and after finishing his 10-year NFL career with just 2,897 yards and 16 touchdowns, he must go down as one of the biggest draft busts in franchise history.

#1 - JaMarcus Russell, Quarterback

JaMarcus Russell with the Oakland Raiders
JaMarcus Russell with the Oakland Raiders

We assume you knew JaMarcus Russell would top this list.

Russell was taken with the first-overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, and there were question marks surrounding the former LSU quarterback before the season even began. Russell held out of the entirety of the Raiders' training camp that season after failing to reach a contract agreement with the team before signing a six-year $68 million, with $31.5 million guaranteed in September 2007.

He wouldn't play much his rookie year, tossing just two touchdowns against four interceptions. Still, when he was named as the starter for the 2008 season, Russell didn't seize his opportunity, only passing for 13 touchdowns and 2,423 yards in 15 starts - not the production you'd hope for from a number one overall pick. However, his 2009 season was much worse, with Russell throwing 11 interceptions against just three touchdowns in nine starts.

He was released by Oakland in early 2010 and would never play in the NFL again. He had a career record of just 7-18. Various stories came out afterward about his work ethic, such as his inability to keep his weight down when Russell turned up to the team's training camp weighing close to 300 pounds.

Russell has since expressed regret at how his NFL career went, and in 2016 he told Sports Illustrated he wrote to all 32 teams asking for a tryout, even offering to play for free for a year, but no team responded to him.

Fewest games played by a QB drafted #1 overall in the Common Draft Era (since 1967)***retired/inactive players only***β€’ JaMarcus Russell - 31β€’ Tim Couch - 62β€’ Sam Bradford - 83β€’ Andrew Luck - 86Luck is the only of the 4 with a career W-L over .500 (53-33)

Oakland head coach at the time, Lane Kiffin, has since stated that he didn't want to select Russell, instead preferring Calvin Johnson, who is a Pro Football Hall of Fame. Still, general manager Al Davis was adamant Russell was selected, and a moment in NFL Draft bust history was made.


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Edited by Piyush Bisht
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