At 55, we’re racing toward the start of the Raiders season when they will hit the road for Tennessee to kick off 2017. When they do, they’ll have a new player donning number 55.
LB Marquel Lee
The Raiders like to put drafted linebackers in number 55. It’s the number Sio Moore wore after the team selected him in the third round. Before him it was top pick Rolando McClain who sported 55.
Lee is the team’s rookie fifth round pick. He comes in at a position that was in dire need, so naturally one would think even in the fifth round that he has a shot at starting. But when you wait until that late in the draft, whoever you choose comes with a lot of questions.
He was fairly productive coming out of Wake Forest. There’s no question about his experience at the position, having started 37 consecutive games at middle linebacker. Last season he put up career numbers in tackles (105), tackles for loss (20.0), sacks (7.5) and forced fumbles (3). He was one of the best run stopping linebackers in the nation last season.
It’s certainly possible Lee will rise up and prove himself to be better than the linebackers chosen ahead of him. He may even be afforded opportunities some of them don’t receive on their respective teams. Currently he is running with the second team while second year linebackers Cory James and Tyrell Adams take first team reps.
Who wore it best: LB Matt Millen (1980-88)
A second round pick out of ‘Linebacker U' Penn State, Millen exploded onto the scene to start every game as a rookie in 1980. He was immediately a major factor to help the Raiders go from wildcard to winning Super Bowl XV.
The fiery defender would terrorize and bewilder opposing quarterbacks for nine seasons as an everyday starting inside linebacker spot. In 1983, he would help lead the Raiders to another Super Bowl championship. In that playoff run, he had an interception in the AFC Championshipgame and a sack in the Super Bowl.
He went to his only Pro Bowl in 1988 which was his final season with the Raiders. Then he headed to San Francisco in 1989 and picked up his third Super Bowl ring with the 49ers in a decisive 55-10 dismantling of John Elway and the Broncos.
Two years later, Millen went to Washington and for the third time in three teams, he would win a Super Bowl in his first season with the team. Three teams, four rings. Either he was just THAT good, or he was just incredibly lucky. Perhaps a bit of both. That was also his final NFL team as he would retire after one season in Washington.
Following his playing career, he was in broadcasting for many years before becoming the LionsCEO in 2001. He spent seven years on the job which were some of the worst in Lions' franchise history. So, I guess we can rule out his being a good luck charm.