Oakland Raiders 2010s All-Decade Team: Defense

Oakland Raiders

The defense of the Oakland Raiders has been awful for a very long time. There have been some bright points along the way. However, the defense as a whole has consistently been in the bottom half of the league. Even when the Raiders were able to scrape together a .500 record, they relied heavily on their offense to outscore teams. Oakland has had a lot of trouble keeping players for an extended period of time as well. Most of the longest-tenured players have been on the squad for three years or less, with a couple of anomalies. This list has some good players on it but, unfortunately, mostly all of them played their best years with different clubs. This list is in a base 4-3 scheme.

Raiders All-Decade Team on Offense

Oakland Raiders 2010s All-Decade Team: Defense

Cornerback (2):

Nnamdi Asomugha (2003-2010)

The football player turned actor Nnamdi Asomugha was one of the best draft picks the Raiders had in the early 2000s. He played his best years with the Raiders in the 2000s as well. His last year in Oakland was in 2010 before he jumped ship to join the Philadelphia Eagles. He was arguably the best corner in the league for his last three years with the Raiders.

In 2010, although it was his only season in the 2010s with Oakland, he was unstoppable. Asomugha made the Pro Bowl in his last three seasons with the Raiders including two All-Pro nods as well. He was only thrown at a TOTAL of 87 times in those final three years: 30 times in 2008, 28 times in 2009, and 29 times in 2010. The Raiders haven’t had a dominant performer like that since he left. Raider fans have been waiting for Nnamdi 2.0, but have had no luck so far. His 2010 year was enough on its own to make this list.

Charles Woodson (1998-2005, 2013-2015)

Charles Woodson might be the most influential Raider since their Super Bowl-winning days. He was a big part of the playoff teams in the early 2000s before heading to the Green Bay Packers to win a Super Bowl. If you can remember, it was a young Woodson who strip-sacked Tom Brady in the “tuck rule” game. He made an instant impact on the team coming off of his Heisman Trophy season at Michigan.

Although he was not the same player during his second stint in Oaktown, “C-Wood” had a major impact on the Raiders’ defensive backs. He came back to seemingly retire, but he was essentially a coach on the field for three years. The Raiders had quite a few young players in the secondary at the time and Woodson accepted the challenge to help. After his teachings and retirement, the young secondary stepped up and helped the team make the playoffs. Woodson’s biggest impact on the team was in the 2000s, but he helped a lot in the 2010s as well. Woodson might be the most iconic Raider on this list, and most likely the last Hall of Famer drafted by Al Davis.

Free Safety:

Tyvon Branch (2008-2014)

Tyvon Branch was one of the fan favorites on a defense that never seemed to have continuity. Most players, as stated earlier, only played on the team for two to three years. Branch was a hitter but also had great ball skills. His best years were 2009-2011 when he stayed healthy and started all 16 games. He was just shy of making the Pro Bowl in 2011 as he led the team in tackles with 109 total. After hiring Jack Del Rio in 2015 and changing defensive philosophies, he was let go. His seven years as a starter, when healthy, makes him the best candidate for this list.

Honorable Mention: Reggie Nelson (2016-2018)

Reggie Nelson was a big part in teaching young players like Karl Joseph and Erik Harris the ropes.

Strong Safety:

Karl Joseph (2016-2019)

Coming out of West Virginia, Karl Joseph was a first-round pick by the Raiders in 2016. There is something about draft picks and Raiders fans. It seems like players either have their best years after they leave the Raiders, or they already had them before signing. Karl Joseph was beloved by the fans because he seemed like a player who would be a staple on a growing defense. He has since signed with the Browns for the 2020 season.

Joseph made a big impact on the Raiders defense when he was on the team though. As a safety, he had an interception in each of his four seasons with the club. He was fourth on the team in tackles in 2017 which was his best season. The safety also forced and recovered a fumble and had four passes defended. There have not been a lot of high impact safeties on the Raiders in the recent past. Karl Joseph was a good enough player and was loved by the fans enough to be the starting strong safety.

Middle Linebacker:

Rolando McClain (2010-2012)

Rolando McClain was drafted by the Raiders the be the savior of the defense. The Raiders hadn’t had a good middle linebacker since Bill Romanowski in the early 2000s. McClain was highly touted coming out of Alabama and as the eighth pick overall, so a lot was expected from him. He was not a bad player, but he never turned out to be the perennial Pro Bowler they had hoped. He made a good amount of tackles, but his sideline to sideline speed left something to be desired. There has not been another middle linebacker on the Raiders since McClain who made a significant impact. Most other inside linebackers were only on the team for a year or two. Most of them were past their prime as well. To be honest, McClain makes the list due to a lack of better options.

Outside Linebacker (2):

Kamerion Wimbley (2010-2011)

Kamerion Wimbley might be the best outside linebacker in a 4-3 base that the Raiders fielded in the last 20 years. He was slightly past his prime when he arrived in Oakland, but he still played good football. He was fourth on the team in tackles in 2011 and led the team in quarterback hits by far. They ran a 3-4 defense at the time so he rushed the passer a lot, but he also had four passes defended that season. Wimbley was only on the team for a short time, but with the Raiders’ awful defense, he was the best player for this position.

Bruce Irvin (2016-2018)

Coming over from the vaunted Seattle “Legion of Boom” defense, Bruce Irvin was expected to make a big impact right away. He did just that by joining Khalil Mack to create one of the best defensive end combos in the league. Irvin brought a lot of veteran experience to help teach younger players like Mack, Justin Ellis, and others. The group had a lot of trouble getting to the quarterback, but they were able to look to Mack and Irvin to make timely sacks and big plays. Bruce Irvin had 25 quarterback hits which were just behind Khalil Mack’s 26. He also had seven sacks during the 2016 campaign. He followed that season up with 8 sacks in 2017 just behind Mack again. Irvin made a big enough impact by making plays and being a veteran leader to make the cut for this list.

Defensive Tackle (2):

Richard Seymour (2009-2012)

After leaving the New England Patriots, Richard Seymour was the first high price free agent the Raiders signed since Randy Moss. There was skepticism among fans because the Moss signing did not pan out, to say the least. Richard Seymour, however, was a much needed huge addition to a Raiders defense. He was the only impactful player on the defensive line until Lamarr Houston arrived. Since there were no other serviceable players, Seymour was constantly doubled. His stats don’t reflect great seasons with the Raiders because of the extra attention by the offense. Seymour did eat up blockers and made enough of an impact on the team to want to retire with them.

Raiders fans hated him for being with the Patriots, but similar to Bill Romanowski when he “joined the dark side,” he became beloved. Seymour loved it in Oakland, and the fans loved him back. He was the best defensive tackle the Raiders have had in decades.

Justin Ellis (2014-2019)

Justin “Jelly” Ellis was known as a big-bodied guy coming out of Louisiana Tech. At 6’2” and 350 pounds, Ellis is a monster of a human. He was brought in to eat up space and blockers to let Khalil Mack feast on the outside. He played a key role in doing just that in the 2016 season. Ellis was great in the run game and that was the Raiders lone bright spot during that playoff year. They were last in just about every category except for being ranked 23rd in rushing yards allowed. Justin Ellis was a big part in helping the defensive line make plays to aid their playoff push.

Defensive End (2):

Lamarr Houston (2010-2013)

Although Lamarr Houston was only on the team for four seasons, he got better every single year. In his last season with the Raiders, he was sixth in tackles, first in quarterback hits, and first in sacks. He was getting consistent pressure on quarterbacks and almost earned him a Pro Bowl nod. What Houston did earn was a big payday. The Chicago Bears saw him as a huge asset, shelling out a five-year, $35 million contract with $15 million guaranteed. Unfortunately for the Bears, he didn’t pan out in Chicago and didn’t even finish out his contract before retiring. If it wasn’t for Khalil Mack, Houston would be the best pass rusher the Raiders have had since the early 2000s.

Khalil Mack (2014-2017)

Khalil Mack is by far the best player on this list. If he finds any more success in the future with the Bears, he will end up with a gold jacket. Mack was already named in the NFL’s 2010s All-Decade Team. In 2015, Mack was the first player in NFL history to be named First-Team All-Pro at two different positions. He was only behind J.J. Watt for the most sacks in the league that season. The following year he was just as good, if not better. Although the Raiders were ranked dead last in sacks as a team, Mack was ranked eighth in the league with 11. Even with all the Raiders defensive woes, he still managed to win Defensive Player of the Year in 2016.

Mack was an absolute monster during his years with the Raiders. Not only was he the best defensive player on the Raiders, but arguably, the best defensive player in the league. He’s only won DPOY once, but his impact on the team was like no other. After the shocking trade that sent him to Chicago, a lot of die-hard Raider fandoms went with him. Mack is the best player the Raiders have had in a long time. Now in Las Vegas, they may not see another player like him for generations.

Honorable Mention: Maxx Crosby (2019-Present)

Maxx Crosby, even though only playing his rookie season so far, seems like he might be a staple on the team for years to come.

Special Teams

The Oakland Raiders, despite being a below-average team during the decade, had very good special teams throughout. They had continuity at the key positions and that led to fielding one of the best kicking duos in the league.

Kicker:

Sebastian Janikowski (2000-2017)

Everybody thought Al Davis was crazy for taking a kicker in the first round of the draft. They may have thought he was crazy for other reasons, but this seemed outlandish at the time. 18 very productive years later, any general manager would call that pick a success. Sebastian Janikowski started all 18 seasons and was old reliable for close to all of those years. Janikowski tied the record for the longest field goal in NFL history in 2011 at 63 yards. He held that record for two years until Matt Prater broke it in 2013 with a 64 yarder.

“Seabass” was surprisingly only a Pro Bowler one time although he was considered for the honor multiple times. He is the longest-tenured Raiders player of all time. Janikowski is also tied with Tom Brady for the third-longest career with the same team. He is loved by all Raiders fans, and even though he was a kicker, he embodied the Raider mentality.

Punter:

Shane Lechler (2000-2012)

Also drafted in the same draft as Janikowski, Al Davis was clearly trying to shore up his kicking game for a long time. Shane Lechler had a 13-year career with the Raiders and did not want to leave when he did. The Raiders chose not to bring him back. Lechler and Janikowski are still best friends to this day and will be the most beloved Raiders kicking duo of all time.

Shane Lechler had a more decorated career than Seabass though. He was named First-Team All-Pro six different times over the span of 11 years. Luckily for Lechler’s numbers, the Raiders were a bad team for the majority of his career. With the offense consistently sputtering, Lechler took advantage of his opportunities. He led the league in total punting yards three times and yards per punt five times. If punters made the Hall of Fame more often, he would absolutely be considered. The only punter in the Hall of Fame is former Raider Ray Guy. Lechler and Janikowski go hand in hand and they both are the only ones deserving of this list.

Utility Special Teamer

Jon Condo (2006-2017)

Most of the other teams’ lists will not include this position, but it was necessary for the Raiders during the 2010s. Jon Condo was perennially the best special teamer in Oakland for years. He was in the top five in special teams tackles for every year that he played. He was also the team’s only long snapper for 11 years. Eight of those years were during the 2010s. Since the team was so bad, it is necessary to highlight the true fan favorites, and Condo was one of them.

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