Las Vegas Raiders: 15 best draft-day steals of all-time
In true Al Davis fashion, the late Raiders owner decided that with the team’s first-round draft pick they would select a kicker. Now, this should not come as a surprise given that in 1973 Davis selected punter Ray Guy in the first round of the draft. The point is, the precedent was there, but this pick was still perplexing in 2000.
A left-footed kicker out of Florida State University, Sebastian Janikowski was regarded as a huge reach at the time. The Raiders finished 8-8 in the 1999 season. Yes, they needed a better kicker, but in the first round? Ahead of guys like Chad Pennington and Shaun Alexander? At the time, it was quite questionable and Al Davis received his fair share of criticism for the pick.
As the saying goes, hindsight is 20-20. After 17 seasons in the Silver and Black, Janikowski holds numerous records both for the franchise, as well as the NFL.
He is the Raiders’ all-time leading scorer with 1,799 points, one short of an even 1,800. The next closest? George Blanda with 863. “The Polish Cannon” accumulated more than twice as many points as Blanda, which is nothing short of dominance.
Granted, being with any team for over 15 years lends itself to setting records. Even still, Janikowski is one of the most impressive kickers to ever play football. His two kicks over 60 yards are tied for the league record, as is his record of three 50+ yard field goals in one game. Needless to say, the Janikowski pick paid off for the Raiders. He can be considered a ‘steal’ for that reason.