This current Oakland Raiders team has talented players, young and old. And I decided that would rank the best 10 players on the team. It was hard making this list. I had to do my research before I made this list.
1. Richard Seymour, Defensive Tackle
Even at 32 years-old, Richard Seymour is still one of the most dominant Defensive Tackles in the game. He is still solid in run-defense ans is one of the better pass-rushing DT’s in the NFL. He constantly commands double-teams from opposing teams, opening things up for other players on the D-line. If you think that Tommy Kelly’s rise in production since Richard Seymour arrived is a coincidence, you are wrong. Even in Chuck Bresnahan’s archaic defense, he was able to tally 6 Sacks last year. He is a consummate professional and a true leader, class act.
2. Shane Lechler, Punter
12 years ago, almost no one thought there would be a better Punter than Ray Guy. Today, people are wondering if anyone will surpass Shane Lechler as the best Punter ever. Those may be strong words, but they’re true. He consistently gets good hangtime on his punts, allowing the coverage team time to get downfield. He averaged 50.8 Yards Per Punt last year. Without him last year’s defense would’ve even worse, which is hard to imagine.
3. Jared Veldheer, Left Tackle
Jared Veldheer is the best Left Tackle the Raiders have had since the pre-2003 Barry Sims. With the exception of the Bears’ game last-year (he allowed 3 Sacks that game), Jared Veldheer was lights-out. He was able open huge holes for the Running Backs, as well as protecting Carson Palmer’s and Jason Campbell’s blindside as well as anyone in the game. He is only 24, so he still has time to get even better.
4. Darren McFadden, Running Back
Darren McFadden plays like the best player on the Raiders as well as the best Running Back in the league. The Reason he isn’t on the top of the list is because he isn’t able to stay healthy. He arguably one of the most explosive players in the league. When he sees a whole, he explodes through it, getting to the second-level of the defense quickly. With Darren McFadden you have to pick your poison; Do want to get shaken out of your shoes? or do you want to get knocked out of your shoes? He can outrun most defenders and he can knock 250-pound Linebackers on their back. If he can put together a full 16 game season, he’ll be on the top of the list next year.
5. Carson Palmer, Quarterback
Whether you agree with me or not, Carson Palmer is a Franchise Quarterback. He is a game-changer and immediately upgrades the QB position the day we traded for him. If we didn’t trade for him, the Oakland Raiders’ QB situation would be in shambles right now. With a full offseason, as well as the best supporting cast he’s had in his career, he should return to his 2005-2006 form. He has one of the best arm’s in the league, all he needs to do is improve his decision-making.
6. Denarius Moore, Wide Receiver
At this point in his career in may be surprising that Denarius Moore is already ranked this high early in his career, but it’s well deserved. He didn’t have the most overwhelming stats last year, but his play opened things up for the rest of the offense to be successful. He came in as an elite deep-threat and because of that, the defense had to play on their heels, allowing other Receivers to make plays on intermediate and short timing-routes. As he learns to be more consistent and improves his route-running, he should become one of the better Receivers in the NFL.
7. Sebastian Janikowski, Kicker
Yes, another specialist on the top-10 list. You can perceive that as a reflection on the Raiders’ lack of talent on offense and defense, or we just have the best Kicker/Punter combo in the NFL. Sebastian Janikowski has always had excellent power when kicking, but over the last 2 years he’s developed accuracy and consistency. He is no doubt the best Kicker in the NFL, and if there was any doubt to that he proved the doubters wrong Week 1 of the 2011-2012 season against the Broncos. He tied the NFL record with a 63-yard field goal. I also consider him an offensive weapon. The offense doesn’t have move the ball as far as other teams to get points from a drive.
8. Stefen Wisniewski, Center
Playing Left Guard last year, Stefen Wisniewski was a solidifying presence on the O-line. This year he will be playing Center, his natural position. He is a smart player and he should be more than able to make the line-calls. He’s a mauler and opens huge holes in the run-game, he isn’t a slouch in pass-protection either. He only allowed 1.5 Sacks in the 2011-2012 season. He will improve even more if he adds some more lower-body strength. Some bigger Defensive Tackles were able to push him back with ease, disrupting a lot of plays.
9. Lamarr Houston, Defensive End
I’ve been very hard on Lamarr Houston in the past, but it’s not his fault that he is playing out of his natural position. That being said, he is probably the best run-stopping Defensive Ends in the NFL. He is always disrupting plays by getting penetration in the backfield and forcing the play into traffic. If he was a Defensive End, his inability to rush the passer wouldn’t be a huge deal. It looks like he will be a Defensive End for the near future, so he will need to improve his pass-rushing skills if the defense wants to improve.
10. Mike Brisiel, Right Guard
Mike Brisiel is one of the better Zone-Blocking Guards in the league. He is able to hold his own in pass-protection, allowing only 1 Sack in the 2001-2012 season. In run-blocking he is superb. He is very good at help-blocking, a staple of the ZBS, he also can disengage and get the second-level of the defense quickly. His play should help ease the Raiders’ transition to the ZBS in 2012.
It was a very difficult list to make. But I made all of my choices based on film evaluation, and the player’ importance to the team. Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below or get @ me on twitter.