Raiders History: Best Draft Steals of All Time

It’s well-known that the Raiders have missed on some draft day prospects in recent years. On the other hand, they’ve nailed some late-round selections as well. Here are some of the Raiders’ best late-round steals in franchise history. 

Bo Jackson, running back

If you’re familiar with the Raiders’ history, you knew ‘Bo’ was going to be on this list. The Raiders selected Jackson with their seventh-round pick in 1987’s draft. As a matter of fact, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had used a first-round selection on him the year before, but he decided to play baseball for the Kansas City Royals instead. The ‘Bucs’ had to relinquish his rights, so in 1987 he was up for grabs again.

Since Jackson was still so committed to playing baseball, not many teams were willing to take a flyer on him. He fell all the way to the seventh round, where Al Davis took a flyer on him. He worked out a deal with Jackson to play both at the same time. Because of his commitment to both sports, Jackson only played 11 games a year for four years with the Silver and Black. He totaled 2,782 yards and 16 touchdowns in four seasons with the Raiders. As a seventh-round pick, he was the ultimate steal.

George Atkinson, safety

Here’s another seventh-round pick. The Raiders took George Atkinson out of Brown College with the 190th pick.

Atkinson was originally drafted as a safety but roamed all over the field with the Raiders. He played 144 games and tallied a whopping 30 interceptions. That amount was good for fifth in Raiders’ franchise history.

Atkinson also had a lot to offer in the return game. He returned three punts to the house, with a total of 1,247 yards. He also reached 1,893 yards on kick returns. Atkinson was an electric returner for the Raiders and helped complete their secondary. He won a Super Bowl with the team in 1977 and retired shortly after.

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Art Shell, left tackle

Art Shell is one of the most infamous names in all of Raider Nation. The Raiders took the ‘hog molly’ in the third round, much higher than the first two on this list. Still, he is a massive steal, and a large part of the team’s fanbase would include him on their Raiders’ Mount Rushmore.

Shell played left tackle for 15 years, and during that time, he made eight Pro Bowls and was a First-Team All-Pro and Second-Team All-Pro two times each. He was enshrined in the Hall of Fame, and then returned to coach the Raiders in the early 1990s. He would give coaching a shot once again in 2006, but we all know how that one went. Nevertheless, Shell is more than a legend in Raiders’ history.

Rod Martin, linebacker

Rod Martin might just be the best steal on this list, as the Raiders chose him in the 12th round with the 317th overall pick, back when the selection meeting had more than just seven rounds.

Martin played outside linebacker for the USC Trojans and was picked up by the Silver and Black at the tail-end of the 1977 draft. He spent 12 years with the Silver and Black, in which he helped the team win two Super Bowls. Rod did more than just help, as he tallied three interceptions in the Raiders’ route of the Eagles in Super Bowl XV, and then recovered a sack and a fumble recovery in Super Bowl XVIII.

Martin went to two Pro Bowls and was a two-time All-Pro. As a 12th round pick, he became one of the better linebackers in Silver and Black’s history.

Shane Lechler, punter

Yes, a punter made this list. Lechler was much more than just a punter though, and if you ask the new generation of Raiders fans for their most iconic Raiders’ players growing up, the Texas A&M product is sure to make that list.

Because of how bad the Raiders’ offense was in the early 21st century, Lechler saw a lot of action. He spent his first 13 years filling up his trophy cabinet. Shane was a nine-time All-Pro with six of them being First-Team designations. He also made the Pro Bowl seven times.

For a long time, Lechler was the best player on the Raiders team. His name rivals Ray Guy when it comes to the all-time greatest punters in team history. Even though it sounds hard to imagine, the Silver and Black would have been even worse without the presence of Shane Lechler.

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Top Photo: Tony Tomsic/Associated Press

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