Raiders should take Russell | NevadaAppeal.com

Raiders should take Russell

Joe Ellison
Nevada Appeal Betting Columnist

Taking into account the overall parity now in the National Football League, the draft becomes more important than ever. More players have an opportunity to make an immediate impact in determining who will win next year’s Super Bowl.

But living in northern Nevada, and considering the fan base here, this weekend’s draft takes on an entirely different meaning. The Oakland Raiders finished last last season, which earned them the right to make the draft’s first choice. Who will they take?

First of all, since the Raider defense performed well last year, it’s a given that Oakland will choose an offensive player. Looking at their needs, and the top collegians available, the list narrows down to quarterbacks JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn, wide receiver Calvin Johnson and tackle Joe Thomas.

If Oakland uses the first pick, it surely will be either Russell or Johnson. But needing multiple players, the Raiders could trade down and acquire additional picks. As long as they don’t go below No. 4, they are guaranteed to get what appears to be a great offensive player, plus more help.

There are people out there who felt that Oakland should have used its first pick last year on a quarterback, like Matt Leinart. But drafting a Hollywood ballroom dancer with perceived average arm strength just doesn’t fit owner Al Davis’ image. Leinart’s mobility and durability were also in question, yet he had the nerve to become the last holdout, perhaps needing extra money to pay receiver Dwayne Jarrett’s rent.

A better fit for Oakland appears to be LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell.

He possesses great strength, mobility and an incredible arm, in Davis’ mind perfect for a vertical passing game. It’s time for Oakland to draft its next starting quarterback, JaMarcus Russell.

HOCKEY

The first round of the National Hockey League playoffs was, like every year, competitive and exciting. Of the 43 games played, 24 were decided by one goal, and six of them totaled 11 overtimes. A couple of others included empty-net goals that widened the final margins.

Conference semi-finals: Unlike the NBA, teams are re-seeded in the second round, so in the East No. 1 Buffalo takes on the No. 6 New York Rangers, while No. 3 New Jersey goes up against No. 4 Ottawa.

Predictions: Buffalo and New Jersey will advance. In the West, Anaheim defeats Vancouver and San Jose upsets Detroit.

Finals: The pick of Anaheim to defeat Buffalo is still going strong.

THE TUCK

Carson City lost quite a character a couple weeks ago with the passing of Warren J. Tucker. The Tuck was a fixture at Carson Station’s sports book, often seen betting 5-teamers and “the over, not the under.”

He was once a jockey and a boxer, but most importantly, he was a truly caring and giving individual. Even when nobody else seemed to like a certain person in the sports book, Tuck would befriend him, often saying, “He’s a human being.”

I thank the Tuck for inviting me over to watch the fights, coming to my poker parties, teaching me how to play shuffleboard, and helping me out when I needed a guest on my old TV show on Carson Access.

The Tuck was a truly great “human being,” and a loyal friend to have. There will never be enough people like Warren Tucker.