Maybe its just the Al Davis is me, but it seems to me that the NFL channel’s “The Top 100: Players of 2012″ is missing its commitment to excellence. Being a Raider fan for my entire life I am accustomed to the media’s bias against the silver and black. It is just sad when practice squad players like Tim Tebow can be ranked on a list that should be reserved for the deserving. Honestly, I’d rather have Khalif Barnes and his almost ritual false start penalties on my team then a qaurterback who relied on Von Miller. So I thought I would make a list of the Raiders who I believe should be on the list.
100: Sebastian Janikowski and Shane Lechler – I cannot think of a much better kicker/punter tandem then this. Jano is Oakland’s all time leading scorer and possibly one of the best kickers to ever play the game. Shane Lechler averages 47.3 yards a punt (NFL record)! The ability to control field position in the NFL is crucial which is why I landed this tandem at 100.
92: Marcel Reese – This spot belonged to John Kuhn of the Green Bay Packers on the NFL channel’s list so I thought it was rather fitting to place Reese here. Marcel Reese is one of the most dynamic players on the Raiders offense. Thats saying something when you are talking about an offense bolstered by Darren Mcfadden, Jacoby Ford, and Denarius Moore. Reese is not only able to pound the ball up the gut like an average fullback, but he can also catch and run like a receiver.
75: Tyvon Branch – I truly believe Tyvon Branch is one of the most under rated players in the NFL. The performance given by Branch last season was a glimpse of hope for the future of Oakland’s defense. Branch may not be the cover safety Micheal Huff is that is true. However, his physical brand of football not only makes up for Huff’s immense fear of contact, but it also renders memories of Raider greats such as Jack Tatum and George Atkinson. This spot will become much more obvious as the 2013 season unfolds, and Branch becomes recognized for his defensive prowess.
59: Stephen Wisnewski – The offensive line of the Oakland Raiders experienced their share of problems (PENALTIES!). Despite beginning the season as a cause for concern the big boys up front ended as one of the NFL’s most feared blocking units. This group had less depth then a bathtub, and made it through the season thanks to a rookie who stepped up and proved himself worthy to follow in his Uncles footsteps. Stephen’s performance week in and week out allowed an array of play makers whether it be Carson Palmer or Jason Campbell, Darren McFadden or Micheal Bush, Marcel Reese or Brandon Meyers to make the plays needed to score points. Had the defensive line matched the caliber of their counterparts we may have experienced a fourth Lombardi trophy in Oakland. The best part about this rookie is that he is simply that, a rookie. Wisnewski has put in one good year, and hopefully there are more to come.
50: Jared Veldheer -If Stephen Wisnewski was Robin then Jared Veldheer would be Batman. With a healthy Darren McFadden this offensive line will have their work cut out for them. Fortunately we have two vigilante superheroes to prevent any further harm from coming to our prized McFadden. So even the Saints will experience trouble inflicting their damage on our running backs. Barring any injuries this line has more than enough potential to put forth the league’s number one rushing offense.
25: Richard Seymour – Despite his age Seymour still stands as one of the most impactful defensive players in the league. As a leader on and off the field Seymour shows his worth week after week. A perfect example comes from a game in week 16 against the rival Chiefs when Seymour managed to block three field goals and keep Oakland’s playoff hopes alive. Seymour is extremely valuable to have on your team as both a play maker and a mentor.
5: Darren McFadden – Due to his injury issues I just didn’t feel right placing Mcfadden lower than 5. The fact is this player has yet to be in a super bowl, break any NFL records, or win a playoff game. That should say a lot to the potential seen in this athlete. McFadden is often seen by the public as the savior of the Oakland Raider franchise. The truth is that the public has yet to see McFadden’s full potential. Once unleashed from his injury problems McFadden can be the most dangerous weapon in the running game the NFL has seen in a long time. However, the word “can” cannot be emphasized enough. One more injury and McFadden also has the potential to seep away into Raider bust legacy right next to the qaurterback that must not be named.
Honorable Mention: Carson Palmer and the Raider Receivers – This group of players have yet to prove themselves as elite athletes of the NFL. Much like McFadden they have much potential. Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford have had their glimpses of greatness. Palmer’s chance to be aligned with McFadden may prove to be a dangerous combo in the backfield. However, until results are achieved on the field the Raiders will remain a team with potential and without a trophy.