Completing the list started earlier this week, here are the top 25 first round picks in Raiders history. If you want to read about numbers 26-50 you can do so here. Also a friendly reminder that the list does not consider Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper or Karl Joseph. So without further ado, numbers 25-1:
#25: Mo Collins: This guy was a behemoth and he is the stereotypical example of a player that a fan both likes and admires but is also a BUST who never lived up to expectations. Taken 23rd overall in 1998, Collins was Jon Gruden’s second draft pick as head coach (Charles Woodson was taken earlier) and the team hopes that he would block out the sun at guard. The biggest problem with Mo wasn’t ability as much as it was injuries. It seemed like he was always on the weekly injury list during his six year stint with the team. This made him a serviceable player at best and not worth a high draft choice.
#24: Marc Wilson: You will likely never find a first round draft pick that was given more time and more opportunities to develop than Wilson received during his eight years with the Raiders. He won two Super Bowls during that tenure but he only contributed three starts to those championships. As a young kid I used to literally cry when I knew Wilson was starting because he would look so good at one moment and so utterly bad at others. He threw 86 interceptions during his Raider career and most of those came at times that the team didn’t need them to occur. Moreover, the Raiders had some great teams in the 1980s (especially in 1984 and 1985) but Wilson’s struggles constantly held them back from more championships. In 1984, the Raiders got in the playoffs with an 11-5 record but were ousted by then-rival Seattle Seahawks. One year later, he teamed up with kick returner Sammy Seale to ruin an MVP season by Marcus Allen by getting the Raiders eliminated by the New England Patriots. It’s easy to blame Wilson for simply making a dynasty come up short of its potential. That must be a tough weight to carry on his shoulders but then again those shoulders were broken long ago when he was unable to support the Raiders organization on them. That is something that you’d expect from a quarterback taken 15th overall (1980).
#23: Mike Siani: The Raiders were a very strong team in 197 when they took Siani 21st overall in 1972. Al Davis was looking to find a complementary receiver to starter Fred Biletnikoff but the quick emergence of a fellow 1972 Raiders’ draft pick named Cliff Branch put Siani on the defensive. Mike caught only 128 passes in his six years in Oakland and with the Branch/Biletnikoff team hanging around he made only 32 starts. 27 of those starts occurred during Siani’s first two seasons as Cliff Branch learned how to run routes and hang on to the football. Siani spent three years in Baltimore after nine NFL seasons.
#22: Rickey Dudley: Had he been a mid-round pick, Rickey Dudley would have been a solid pick. Taken at ninth overall in the 1996 draft, Dudley was supposed to give quarterback Jeff Hostetler a solid option to compliment wide receiver Tim Brown. Dudley spent nine years in the NFL, five with the Raiders, but he simply wasn’t a standout at tight end. In many ways he is the poster child for what is referred to in the draft as a “reach pick” but Al Davis was no stranger to that kind of thinking. Dudley had just two collegiate seasons under his belt and other than for one season, Dudley was just plain terrible. He did have a 48-catch, 787-yard season in his second year, and it made Raider Nation believe he came around. But he would come back to let the team and the fans down repeatedly on third down with dropped passes. What was even more embarrassing was the fact that Dudley was actually a fine athlete but he could never transfer that ability into an effective football player. At 6’5”, 255 pounds and with speed to burn one would think that he should be in the hall of fame by now. Instead, his inability to catch the football lands him in the hall of shame.
#21: Rob Fredrickson: Al Davis tried to replace Clifford Branch for years and in many ways he spent years trying to replace Rod Martin and Ted Hendricks. Rob Fredrickson was drafted 22nd overall in 1994 and he was assigned Martin’s old jersey number. Fredrickson wasn’t a bad player, he was just a reach who was overrated in college and at the combine. He spent just four years with the Raiders before continuing his mediocre career with Arizona and Detroit. Rob played in only 58 games in a Raider uniform, intercepted one pass and recorded only 5.5 sacks.
#20: Darren McFadden: If any Raider can be accused of “having a glass jaw” it is Darren McFadden. By no means am I calling the man a coward but instead I am referring to his consistent ability to get hurt. McFadden missed 29 games during his career with the Raiders and parts of several others. Talent was never the problem. In 2010, McFadden rushed for over 1,000 yards, caught 47 passes and scored 10 touchdowns, leading Oakland to an 8-8 record. There have been very few running backs ever drafted by the Raiders with as much talent as Darren McFadden but in the end, the 4th overall pick in 2008 is just a bust.
#19: Darrell Russell: Perhaps no Raiders first round pick has ever had this much potential and ended up failing so badly. The former USC defensive tackle was taken with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft and immediately became a star with the Oakland Raiders, before legal issues had him out of the league in his mid-20s. In 2002, with the Raiders on the verge of an NFL Championship, Russell was suspended for the entire season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Imagine a healthy Russell playing in Super Bowl XVIII. I don’t like revisionist history but things might have been different had he played that day. He finished his Raiders career with 28.5 sacks, 2 Pro Bowls and 1 safety. Had drugs not been a factor in his life he would have likely ranked among the top ten best ever Raiders first round picks. Sadly, that was not to be.
#18: Art Thoms: He quickly became a fan favorite after the Raiders took him 22nd overall in 1969. The Raiders were a championship team then and with guys like Ben Davidson aging the team felt that they had to get younger on the defensive line. Thoms was a blue-collar guy, playing for a blue-collar city and it showed on the field. A shoulder injury that never seemed to heal right ended his career early but overall he never really did anything to stand out on the defensive line. Like Mo Collins he was a serviceable player who didn’t turn out to be a good first round pick for the Raiders.
#17: Scott Davis: In 1988 the Raiders were a team in transition and with the failure of Bob Buczkowski a few years earlier Al Davis sought to fix his team’s defensive line struggles. Scott Davis (taken at 25th overall) turned out to be just another serviceable player, who would make big plays at certain times (like preserving two wins over Denver by blocking last second field goals in 1990 and 1991) and at other times he was in the training room hurt. The presence of Howie Long and Greg Townsend helped him out earlier on but as the two veterans aged Davis was unable to pick up the slack. He lasted just five years on the team, recorded just 27.5 sacks and he really was never a consistent factor.
#16: Anthony Smith: The Raiders drafted Smith, who later turned out to be a situational pass rusher in the 1990 draft (11th overall). Smith sat out his first year due to an injury but over the next seven years he recorded 57.5 sacks and 11 forced fumbles. Most of that success (35.5) sacks occurred during his first three seasons. Personal problems soon invaded his mind, including a tumultuous relationship with a early 1990s singer named Vanity. His play was never the same after that and after injured began to creep up on him the team let him go after 1997. Trouble followed him after his career ended, in 2015 he was convicted of three murders and sentenced to three consecutive terms of life imprisonment.
#15: Chester McGlockton: Big Chet played 12 years in the NFL including six with the Raiders. Drafted 16th overall in 1992, Big Chet looked like he would dominate the line of scrimmage. For the most part he did by racking up 39.5 sacks, 5 fumble recoveries, 304 tackles and 1 interception. He made four straight Pro Bowls (1993-1997), which made Big Chet a pick worthy of 16th overall.
#14: Henry Lawrence: Drafted 19th overall in 1974, Henry Lawrence played a backup role before becoming a full time starter in 1977. Early in his career he struggled with pass blocking, promoting Kenny Stabler to refer to Lawrence as a “open door”. Henry stayed focused and he manned the right tackle position for 10 seasons, winning two Super Bowls and attending back to back Pro Bowls (1873-1984). Henry is among a handful of players to have a place on the roster of all three Raider teams that won Super Bowls and during his entire time with the team the Raiders played in 20 playoff games. In all, his career spanned over 200 games (counting playoffs) with over 160 starts.
#13: Harry Schuh: He was the third player drafted overall in the 1965 American Football League draft, after Joe Namath and Larry Elkins. Schuh was so talented that he became the starting right tackle immediately and he manned the position for six straight seasons, making the Pro Bowl four times during that span. His blocking helped lift quarterback Daryle Lamonica to two MVP awards in 1967 and 1969. For some reason, Al Davis traded Schuh to the Rams for future Hall of Famer Bob Brown but that didn’t stop Schuh from later being named the the Raiders all time team in 2010.
#12: Ray Guy: Raider fans have to always defend the fact that Guy, drafted 23rd overall in 1973 was a first round pick. Our response to that is that Guy is the greatest punter who ever lived and the only punter in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was that good, he was that consistent. It will be impossible to know how many games the Raiders won between 1973-1986 because of Guy’s ability to consistently keep the advantage of field position in the Raiders favor. Guy was great!
#11: Napoleon Kaufman: Entering the 1995 NFL Draft, no Raiders runner had posted a 1,000 yard season since Marcus Allen did it in 1985. The fascination that Al Davis had with fast, speedy players was and is unparalleled in the history of the NFL. Kaufman was one of those players and when Al drafted him 18th overall I was not shocked. He only played six years but he decided to retire to devote himself to his religion and preserve his body from further wear and tear. Nobody can blame Kaufman for making that decision. Kaufman did rush for over 1,000 yards in a season but he only did it once (1995) and that same year he set the team mark for the most yards rushing in a single game. Kaufman played in 91 games, made 46 starts, and he gained just over 8,000 total yards.
#10: Sebastian Janikowski: It’s hard ranking a kicker this high but when you compare the longevity and the contribution that Janikowski has given to the Raiders versus that of others on this list you shouldn’t doubt why he is this high. When Al Davis took the “Polish Cannon” 17th overall in the 2000 draft I was personally upset because they could have used help elsewhere. At the time, head coach Jon Gruden wanted to draft tight end Todd Heap but Davis refused and took Janikowski instead. Heap turned out to be a good player but Janikowski has stood the test of time, becoming the Raiders all-time leading scorer and making one Pro Bowl.
#9: Don Mosebar: Originally drafted as a guard, Don Mosebar assumed the center position following the retirement of Dave Dalby. From 1985 to 1994 he started in 153 games and made three Pro Bowls. He also started every single game at center between 1990 and 1994, a span of 64 regular season games plus five more starts in postseason play. Drafted 26th overall in 1983, his career was cut short during the 1995 preseason when he sustained a career ending eye injury during training camp.
#8: Raymond Chester: Al Davis discovered a beast when he took Raymond Chester 24th overall in 1970. Chester won rookie of the year honors, the only tight end to ever do so and he would have been an even greater force if he played in an era that would have highlighted his talents more. Chester made four Pro Bowls as a member of the Raiders and he helped lift the team to a Super Bowl title in 1980. He had his best career statistics in 1979 with 712 reception yards and eight touchdowns. Overall he spent seven seasons in Oakland and another 5 in Baltimore. I devoted a previous article to Chester here.
#7: Nnamdi Asomugha: For many years he was considered to be one of the best shutdown corners in the NFL but it took Asomugha a few years to earn that status. Drafted as a safety at 31st overall in 2003, the Raiders moved him to cornerback but he played sparingly the first two seasons of his career. That changed after Charles Woodson departed for Green Bay and Asomugha became a defensive force. Anti-Nnamdi Asomugha people will say that he only picked off 11 passes during his Raider career. However, as a shutdown corner that lacked depth at corner it came as no surprise that opposing quarterbacks looked to whoever Oakland had one the other side of the field at cornerback. That accounts for Nnamdi Asomugha’s lack of interceptions. Asomugha went to three Pro Bowls and he was named first team all-pro twice. There are not too many Raider players that can make that claim.
#6: Terry McDaniel: In 1988, Mike Haynes was on the decline and Lester Hayes had retired two years earlier. As a result, Al Davis selected Terry McDaniel with the 9th overall pick. Davis didn’t know at the time that he had just drafted one of the best cornerbacks in Raider history. A five-time Pro Bowl selection from 1992 to 1996, McDaniel had 35 career interceptions for 667 yards and 6 touchdowns. His five interceptions returned for touchdowns over his career with the Raiders are a team record. His 34 interceptions are the third-highest in franchise history, and his 624 return yards are the second-highest.
#5: Jack Tatum: Woody Hayes, the famed head coach of The Ohio State University once called Jack Tatum “the greatest defensive player I ever coached”. Tatum was immediately inserted as the team’s starting safety and he quickly earned a reputation as a fierce competitor, but it was his reputation as one of the hardest hitters ever to play the game that is most remembered by fans. What is forgotten in all those big hits is the fact that Tatum was one of the best to ever play the position and if it wasn’t for a hit that paralyzed Darryl Stingley, Tatum would be in the Hall of Fame. He was that good and although it is more unfortunate that Stingley was paralyzed, it is also unfortunate that Tatum isn’t enshrined in Canton because he deserves it. Jack made three Pro Bowls, intercepted 37 passes (30 with Oakland) and two times he was named All-Pro. He returned his 30 thefts for 636 yards and recovered 8 fumbles for 171 yards. He returned one of those fumbles 104 yards for a touchdown against Green Bay in 1972. That record stood until it was broken in 2000.
#4: Charles Woodson: Younger Raider fans will likely question why I have Charles ranked so low on the list but the answer is simple. Despite his great career he isn’t in the Hall of Fame yet…that might give you a hint on my top three Raiders ever drafted in the first round. Woodson is a sure first ballot hall of famer and he is helping himself by working for ESPN. To date, he is the only first round draft pick that the Raiders have ever made, outside of Khalil Mack, that I actually wanted the Raiders to take. C-Wood spent 11 years in a Raider uniform (his first 8 seasons were with Raiders) and another 7 with Green Bay before returning to Oakland to finish out his career. After being taken 4th overall in the 1998 draft, Woodson justified the pick by winning the AP Rookie Defensive Player of the Year award, making 5 Pro Bowls (4 straight from 1998-2001) as a Raider and being named first team All-Pro once. He switched to safety later in his career and he played that position during his final three seasons with the Raiders. As a Raider, Woodson had 27 interceptions, 12 fumble recoveries and over 600 tackles. He also helped guide the Raiders to three straight playoff appearances and a leg injury in 2002 limited his effectiveness. I’ve always said Super Bowl XXXVIII might have been different if Woodson was 100% healthy and if Darrell Russell actually played in the game. But that is revisionist history. What isn’t revisionist history is the bust that Woodson will soon get in Canton, Ohio after spending nearly 70% of his pro career as an Oakland Raider.
#3: Marcus Allen: NFL MVP (1985), Rookie of the Year (1982, NFL Scoring title (1982), Super Bowl MVP, and just about every award that you can win as a football player. That is Marcus Allen. After 145 games as a Raider he left the team in 1993 as the franchise’s leading rusher, team yardage leader, leading touchdown producer and he was among the team’s all-time reception leaders. He averaged 5.8 yards per rush and as an option passer he tossed 4 TD passes. Marcus was #beastmode before Marshawn Lynch was even born. The only player to surpass Allen’s yardage total and touchdown record was Tim Brown. A feud with Al Davis nearly wrecked his career and it impacted his career numbers as Davis brought in Bo Jackson, Eric Dickerson and Roger Craig as starters. “I don’t think there’s been any great running back in the league that has ever had to share the position with that many great running backs,” Allen later told NFL Films. Former Davis assistant Ron Wolf, who worked for the Raiders for 25 years later called Allen the best player that the Raiders ever had during his tenure there (1963-1974, 1979-1989). If you are going to form a Raiders all-time team, your starting halfback better be Marcus Allen.
#2: Tim Brown: “Mr. Raider”, as he was later called, spent sixteen years with the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, during which he established himself as one of the NFL’s most prolific wide receivers. Brown owns so many Raider franchise records that they are nearly impossible to list here. He did break Marcus Allen’s team record for touchdowns and Fred Biletnikoff records for receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He also set the Raiders single season marks for receptions in a season (104) and receiving yards in a season. Although he started off as a glorified kick returner, he soon developed into the best receiver that the Raiders have ever drafted. Brown was drafted 6th overall in 1988, the same first round that produced Terry McDaniel and Scott Davis.
#1: Gene Upshaw: I have two main reasons that puts Upshaw ahead of Brown, Woodson and Marcus Allen. First, Upshaw spent his entire career (15 years) with the Raiders. Second, between 1967 and 1981, Gene Upshaw started every single game and he never missed a game. In total, Upshaw started in 207 out of 217 possible games and his accolades are more numerous than almost all of the Raiders first round picks.
- 2× Super Bowl champion (XI, XV)
- 6× Pro Bowl (1972–1977)
- 3× First-team All-Pro (1970, 1974, 1977)
- 4× Second-team All-Pro (1972, 1973, 1975, 1976)
- AFL champion (1967)
- AFL All-Star (1968)
- 3× First-team All-AFL (1967–1969)
- NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
- NFL 1970s All-Decade Team
- Blocked for one NFL MVP (Stabler in 1974) and two AFL MVP awards (Lamonica in 1967 and 1969)
Eugene Upshaw is the greatest player that the Raiders ever drafted in round one.