We are now halfway through the 80s in our countdown to the Raiders 2015 season opener. The 80s numbers have been reserved for receivers for the past 35 years or so. But my pick for the best to wear number 86 yesterday was a linebacker. Today, we go with yet another defender from the Raiders early days as the best to wear the number 85.
Who wore it best: DT Carleton Oats (1965-72)
Oats was drafted by the Raiders in the 21st round in 1964 and played 8 seasons for the Raiders. That's pretty good for players in 60s. It's also pretty good for a player who was the 167th overall pick - that's the equivalent of a fifth round pick in today's NFL. He appeared in 103 regular season games, and 9 playoff games. His first trip to the playoffs came in 1967 and he helped the Raiders reach Super Bowl II where they would fall to the juggernaut Green Bay Packers.
The following three seasons, Oats was the team's every day starter and the Raiders made trips to the playoffs every one of those seasons, and win a playoff games each time before falling short of the Super Bowl. Like all defenders in those days, there are no official tackle or sack stats to go on.
Who's wearing it now: WR Kenbrell Thompkins
Undrafted in 2013 out of Cincinnati, Thompkins played the first full season of his career with the Patriots. He put up respectable numbers for an unheralded player, starting 8 games, catching 32 passes for 466 yards and 4 touchdowns. Even still, two games into the 2014 season, he was waived. The Raiders, in much need for receiver help, scooped him up off of waivers.
Grabbing Thompkins came just in time because the following week the Raiders would lose Rod Streater for the season. Thompkins would start six games over the final 12 games of the season, catching 15 passes for 209 yards.
At this point, Thompkins is hovering around the final wide receiver roster spot. His primary competition for that spot is will Brice Butler and Andre Holmes. So far Thompkins has had a strong showing in offseason practices and could either bump one of those other guys off the roster or have the coaching staff considering keeping six receivers. That is, of course, barring any injuries to the receiver corps.