It appears the Oakland Raiders have made their choice, and it's JaMarcus Russell. According to two sources, one with the Raiders and one close to Russell, the team called the LSU quarterback Friday to inform him he would be the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NFL draft.
Oakland quietly flew offensive coordinator Greg Knapp to New York on Thursday to meet with Russell and reassure him of his status as the team's preference over Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson and Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn.
But Raiders coach Lane Kiffin told ESPN's Ed Werder that the team has not told Russell he is the top pick.
The Raiders had tried to leverage the players against one another in contract negotiations. Oakland does not have a deal in place with Russell, as often is the case with team selecting first overall, but the Raiders and Russell's agents, Ethan Lock and Eric Metz, have agreed to negotiate in good faith. But barring a blockbuster trade for the top pick -- and sources say nothing has materialized that the Raiders would accept -- Russell will be Oakland's choice.
The selection of Russell leaves Johnson, the draft's top player on many team's boards, available when the Lions select second overall. The Lions are then expected to select a receiver in the first round for the fourth time in the past five years. Johnson could perhaps then be dealt to the Buccaneers, who reportedly have been in discussions with the Lions regarding the second pick
Quinn is also not expected to be selected by the Minnesota Vikings, who are committed to 2006 second-round pick Tavaris Jackson. Quinn is expected to be on the board at the ninth pick when the quarterback-needy Miami Dolphins are on the clock.
Michael Smith is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.