Tick, tick, tick, tick, the offseason keeps plodding along. We reach 78 days to the Raiders season opener which means we also recognize the best to wear the number 78 in a Raiders uniform. This one is not difficult.
Who wore it best: OT Art Shell (1968-82)
One of the greatest offensive tackles in the history of the NFL. He went to 7 straight Pro Bowls from 72-78 (8 total) and was named All Pro twice. With Shell at left tackle for the Raiders, the defense had little chance of getting near the quarterback.
Originally a third round pick in the 1968 draft, Shell took over as the fulltime starter in 1970 and held down the left tackle position for the next 12 years. In that time the Raiders won two Super Bowls with, first with Shell protecting for Ken Stabler and later for Jim Plunkett. He retired in 1982, got into the Hall of Fame in 1989 in his second year of eligibility, and took over as Raiders head coach that same year. He spent six years as the Raiders head coach, with a winning record in all but one season (7-9) and an overall record of 54-38.
Who's wearing it now: DT Justin Ellis
He was the Raiders fourth round pick last year and earned a starting role over incumbent starter, Pat Sims. He played well enough to earn a spot on the All Rookie team. Now he returns as the expected starting nose tackle.
The Raiders signed Dan Williams, a former nose tackle, with the intention on him playing the defensive tackle position alongside Ellis much of the time. He and Ellis can also sub out for each other in different sets and alignments. The team expects good things from ‘Jelly' and if he can deliver, it would make an already impressive 2014 draft class look that much better.