What would have happened to the Detroit Lions if they had drafted JaMarcus Russell instead of Calvin Johnson in the 2007 NFL Draft?
The Detroit Lions were really bad at the end of the 2000s. Like, really bad. Let’s make them worse. The Lions lucked out In the 2007 NFL Draft. One of the best players in a generation, Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson, fell to the Lions at the second overall pick. Johnson went on to set almost every important franchise receiving record for the Lions, was selected to multiple Pro Bowls and is on the short list of greatest receivers of all time.
So, what if instead of Johnson being available for the Lions at the second pick, what if Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders had drafted Johnson instead?
And what if Detroit Lions general manager Matt Millen had selected the player the Raiders actually took first overall: LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell?
While Johnson was a star, Russell is one of the NFL’s most notable draft busts. Russell played three seasons in Oakland, starting just 25 games. He threw more interceptions than touchdowns, completed only 52% of his passes and was out of the league before the decade was over.
For this nightmare to play out, we need to set the scene. First, the only changes to the Lions’ roster are as follows:
1. JaMarcus Russell is added to the roster and immediately is named the starter.
2. Calvin Johnson is removed from the roster and sent to the Raiders.
3. Any quarterback added after Russell was drafted is removed from the roster. This means no Drew Stanton in the second round in 2007 and no 2008 mid-season signing of Daunte Culpepper.
Thanks to whatifsports.com, we can actually see what this scenario might have looked like. Every game will be played exactly once. Russell is the starting quarterback, no exceptions. The Lions’ roster will remain exactly the same except for this change.
Are you ready? I didn’t think so, but let’s do this anyway.