Friday the Raiders officially locked in 15th overall pick tackle Kolton Miller to his rookie contract. It got me thinking about who the best players the Raiders have ever selected in the top 15 picks. And it’s about as impressive a lineup of players as you’ll ever see. It includes three Hall of Famers, one lock for the first ballot, and another well on his way to being in that conversation.
Marcus Allen (1982) – 10th overall
A Heisman Trophy winner at USC, Allen was named Rookie of the Year with 11 touchdowns and nearly 700 yards in 9 games during the strike shortened 1982 season.
His second season he helped lead the Raiders to the Super Bowl where he had probably the greatest run in Super Bowl history for a 72-yard touchdown in a win over Washington. In total, he ran for a then Super Bowl record 191 yards and was named Super Bowl MVP.
From there he went on to make four-straight Pro Bowls, including running for 1759 yards and 11 touchdowns with a total of 2314 yards from scrimmage and 14 TD’s in 1985 to be named NFL MVP. A fallout between Allen and Al Davis would have Allen benched, starting just two games over two seasons and in 1993, at the age of 32, Allen joined the Chiefs where he would spend the final five seasons of his career.
In total, Allen went to six Pro Bowls, was named All Pro twice, NFL MVP, and Super Bowl MVP. He still holds the Raiders all-time rushing mark with 8545 yards as well as rushing touchdowns (79). He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003.
Fred Biletnikoff (1965) – 11th overall
Biletnikoff was actually a second round pick at 11 overall in the 1965 draft. He would spend his entire 14-year career in Oakland. In that span he was a 6-time Pro Bowler and 2-time All AFL performer.
In his third season, the first with Daryle Lamonica at quarterback, the Raiders made it to Super Bowl II where they would lose to the Packers.
In the famous “Sea of Hands” game against the Dolphins in 1974, Biletnikoff caught 8 passes for 122 yards. Two years later, the Raiders would win their first Super Bowl in which Biletnikoff would be named Super Bowl MVP.
Biletnikoff finished with 8974 receiving yards and 76 touchdowns which were both franchise records until this next guy came along and broke them. Biletnikoff was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988.
Tim Brown (1988) – 6th overall
The Hall of Fame receiver who holds every Raider receiving record and is among the top performer in nearly every NFL receiving category over 16 seasons in Los Angeles and Oakland.
Just like Marcus Allen before him, Brown was a Heisman Trophy winner who had immediate success in the NFL, heading to the Pro Bowl as a rookie return specialist.
Mr Raider would surpass 1000 yards receiving nine straight seasons from 1993 to 2001 and would be named to the Pro Bowl 7 times in that span. In 2002, finally with a suitable threat at the other receiver spot (Jerry Rice), the Raiders reached the Super Bowl.
Charles Woodson (1998) – 4th overall
Another Heisman Trophy winner but Woodson remains the only ever primarily defensive player to win the coveted award. And just like his fellow Raiders Heisman winners, he had instant NFL success, winning Rookie of the Year.
CWood locked down the right side of the field for eight seasons in Oakland, being named to the Pro Bowl his first four seasons and All Pro once. In the process, the Raiders had their most successful seasons in the past 30 years, including a trip to the Super Bowl.
In 2006, at the age of 30, he was allowed to leave as a free agent, signing with the Green Bay Packers. He spent seven seasons in Green Bay, winning a Super Bowl, heading to four more Pro Bowls, two more All Pro nods, and in 2009 was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Then in 2013, at the age of 36, he was released by the Packers and returned to Oakland where he said he had “unfinished business”. He started every game at safety for three seasons and was named to his 9th Pro Bowl at the age of 39, before ending his 18-year NFL career. He is an absolute lock as a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Khalil Mack (2014) – 5th overall
After just four seasons, Mack has earns his place among the best players the best ever Raiders top picks. He has 40.5 career sacks, good for fifth in franchise history. His 15.0 sacks in 2016 are third most in franchise history. That season he was named Defensive Player of the Year and the first ever All Pro at two different positions (DE, LB).
He’s also been named an All Pro twice and a Pro Bowler three straight seasons. Right now he’s sitting out the Raiders offseason program awaiting a contract extension. That deal is expected to be signed, which would make him a Raider for the next six years. And if the next six are anything like the first four, he will be on his way to joining these other Raiders top 15 picks in the Hall of Fame.
Who is the best player the Raiders have ever selected in the top 15 of the draft?
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