Grading on a curve

Had he succeeded, JaMarcus Russell still would not have provided much value relative to No. 1 picks in other sports. Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

When we watch a just-drafted athlete hug his mom, put on a goofy cap and smile for the camera in anticipation of a multimillion-dollar contract, it's natural to wonder how he could possibly be worth all that money before ever playing a minute in a pro game.