Despite what we’ve seen over the last few years, the Raiders have actually drafted really well in the second round of the draft.
Before the likes of Jihad Ward, Menelik Watson, Obi Melifonwu, or Mario Edwards Jr., the Raiders used to clean up in the second. The most recent example is Derek Carr, love him or hate him, the team’s all-time leading passer. But before that, what about Ken Stabler? Howie Long? Freddy Biletnikoff? Dave Casper? Matt Millen? Some of the greatest Raiders in history were taken in the second round. But who was the greatest?
Greatest Second Round Pick in Raiders History
With a murderer’s row like that, how could we possibly pick the best? You could make an argument for any of those guys. So in order to get to the bottom of this, we have to determine what makes someone a great player, or more importantly, a great Raiders player. Firstly, we’ll narrow it down to only Hall of Fame players. Then, we’ll look at the guys who made the biggest impact for the team. And finally, how long did they stick with the team? Did they play for anyone else?
Ultimately, it comes down to Long, Biletnikoff, and Stabler. In order to determine who the best of the best was, we’ll need to take a closer look at all three of them.
How great was Freddy Biletnikoff? It’s easy, ask any collegiate wide receiver as they all are probably vying for the award that bares his name. One of the best route runners (with the stickiest fingers) in league history, Freddy B caught 589 passes for 8,974 yards and 82 touchdowns. He played all 190 of his career games for the Oakland Raiders, helped the team beat Minnesota in Super Bowl XI, and was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988.
To this day, the only Raider with more receptions, yards, and touchdowns is Tim Brown. Considering that Biletnikoff mostly played during the 14 game era, that’s pretty impressive.
What is there to say about Long that hasn’t been said a million times? One of the greatest defensive linemen of all time, Long was a bad, bad man. A five-time All-Pro, an eight-time Pro Bowler, and a Super Bowl Champion, he won Defensive Player of the Year in 1985, when anyone from the legendary Bear’s defense could’ve laid claim to the title.
Long was a fiercely intimidating force for the Silver and Black, registering 84 *official* sacks in 13 seasons with the team, and playing a big part in the 1983 Super Bowl squad. Howi-ever, I think my favorite stat about Howie is that he only ever played for the Raiders. He was drafted an Oakland Raider, moved to Los Angeles with the team, and retired wearing the Silver and Black.
Also, he did this. And by definition, Howie was “a person who attacks an enemy in the enemy’s territory; a marauder,” aka, a Raider.
Howie Long tells a story about the time he walked into the Seahawks offensive huddle and stole their water bottle. pic.twitter.com/fyDfJBcRce
— Funhouse (@BackAftaThis) July 29, 2019
I wanted to talk about Howie and Freddy because they’re Raiders legends, but could it really be anyone else? Sure, the Snake didn’t spend his entire career in Oakland, but any Silver and Black Mount Rushmore would be incomplete without #12.
In an era where passing stats meant something, Stabler set all the records for the Raiders, and he still holds the records for touchdowns and yards per attempt. Stabler was a Pro Bowler, an All-Pro, an Offensive Player of the Year, a league MVP, and a Super Bowl Champion. The greatest quarterback in Raider history, nobody personified the swagger that defined the golden age Raiders like Snake.
Stats? He’s got em. Championships? He delivered Madden his only Super Bowl? Memorable moments? Kenny Stabler has so many games with names, it’s unreal. The Sea of Hands, The Immaculate Reception, The Holy Roller, Stabler’s fingerprints are all over the history of the NFL. On and off the field, Stabler defined what it meant to be a Raider.
And to think, he wasn’t a first-round pick. Ridiculous.