Ranking the Oakland Raiders' Top 10 Current Players
Over the years the Raiders have had 11 Pro Football Hall of Famers, such as Gene Upshaw, Art Shell, Marcus Allen, Fred Biletnikoff, and Dave Casper, to name just a few.
None of the current crop of Raiders is on that level, but that can also be said about 99 percent of the players in the league.
That being the case, I thought it might be interesting to rank the top 10 current Oakland Raiders to see where the team stands going into 2009.
Jeff Garcia and Lorenzo Neal don't make the list as they have only just signed with the team. These are just my rankings, so feel free to disagree.
No. 10: Derrick Burgess
The injury-plagued and rapidly declining Burgess still gets onto this list courtesy of his 35 sacks from 2005-2007.
While he is still a good pass rusher when healthy, that's becoming more of a question as time goes by, and recent speculation has him going to the Patriots for a second or third rounder.
The Raiders seem reluctant to give him a new contract even at his relatively cheap price and drafted two DEs in the 2009 draft.
No. 9: Michael Bush
Michael Bush's size and strength is a perfect complement to Darren McFadden's speed and elusiveness. Bush tied with McFadden as the leading rusher in terms of yards per attempt in 2008 and had one fewer touchdown.
He topped off an impressive season with 177 yards and two touchdowns in 27 attempts and one reception for six yards in the final game of the season, which eliminated Tampa Bay and coach Jon Gruden from the playoffs.
No. 8: Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson, the cornerback rather than the RB version, is only the second best CB on the team. Of course, second to Nnamdi Asomugha is still pretty good.
His numbers (35 tackles, 12 passes defensed, and three interceptions) in 2008 don't do his impact justice.
Taking over from the-only-cornerback-in-the-league-to-earn-$47.5-million-guaranteed-in-two-deals-in-two-seasons-without-being-able-to-play-man-coverage, Johnson combined with Asomugha to form arguably the best cornerback duo in the league.
Now to sort out the run defense...
No. 7: Thomas Howard
Through three seasons playing every game, Howard has 302 tackles and led the league in interceptions by a linebacker in 2007. Most of those tackles (245) have been solo tackles, and he has 17 passes defensed.
Howard is arguably the second best linebacker on the team and the seventh best player.
No. 6: Zach Miller
Through two seasons, Zach Miller has 100 receptions for 1,222 yards and emerged in 2008 as the Raiders' leading pass catcher and JaMarcus Russell's favorite target.
Miller looks like a rising star who is set to break out, and he would have been ranked higher if he had more than one touchdown in 2008.
No. 5: Shane Lechler
Fifth best player on a team would usually be very high for a punter, but this is Shane Lechler, the highest-paid punter in NFL history and holder of the record for highest career punting average at 46.5 yards per punt.
This places him as the only player with a higher average than Sammy Baugh. Combine that with the fact that the Raiders are still a relatively weak team, and he is No. 5.
No. 4: Kirk Morrison
Coming off four consecutive seasons with 100-plus tackles, including 135 tackles, two forced fumbles, and an interception in 2008, Morrison is the star of the linebacking corps.
Exceptionally durable, not having missed a game in his career, he has had at least 91 solo tackles each season.
No. 3: Darren McFadden
In an injury-hampered rookie season, McFadden was on target for 1,000 yards if he had as many rushes as Justin Fargas.
Coming into 2009, McFadden is injury free and has looked impressive rushing and receiving in minicamp and the first OTAs. McFadden should have a great sophomore season behind veteran blocker Lorenzo Neal now that his toe has healed.
No. 2: Sebastian Janikowski
Some people may disagree with ranking a placekicker so highly, but Janikowski has a special place among current Raiders.
He holds Raiders records for most career points, highest field goal percentage, and the longest field goal made in franchise history, as well as the league record for longest field goal attempted—a hilarious 76 yards, in case anyone has forgotten—and the longest field goal to win an overtime game in NFL history.
No. 1: Nnamdi Asomugha
No surprises here. Asomugha is arguably the best cornerback in the NFL and is certainly paid like it.
He doesn't amass huge statistical numbers, but that's a difficult proposition when even the best quarterbacks are afraid to throw the ball your way.