With only 97 days until the opening game of 2020, we start the count down with the best Raiders player at every jersey number. Today we focus on No. 97.
There have been plenty of legendary players to put on the Raiders uniform, ranging from Hall of Famers, to guys who have been inexplicably left out of Canton. Through the team's sixty years of existence, thousands of players have come and gone, each leaving a mark on the organization, no matter how small.
With the season a few months away, we take a look at the best player to wear the jersey number of the number of days left before the opener on September 13, 2020 against Carolina. That game will kick off the new era of Raiders
We continue our series with No. 97.
Mario Edwards Jr. (2015-2017)
The son of a former NFL player, Mario Edwards Jr. was the Raiders second round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Edwards, who starred at Florida State, winning a national title, was expected to come in and anchor the team's defensive line, but injuries really derailed him during his time with the organization.
Edwards was twice put on injured reserve in his three seasons with the Raiders, and in September of 2018, he was waived by the team. As a 23-year old in 2017, Edwards actually had his best season with the Raiders, starting 14 games, and setting a career-high with 3.5 sacks, but head coach Jon Gruden decided it was best to move in another direction.
Gruden had expected Edwards to start for him in 2018, but he had a terrible preseason, and was waived right before the opener. The team was moving in a new direction in the summer of 2018, as they spent two draft picks on defensive tackle, and traded away generational talent Khalil Mack.
In 50 games with the Raiders, Edwards made 24 starts and racked up 5.5 sacks.
The Raiders will get to see their old teammate in Week 2 of the 2020 NFL season, as they open up Allegiant Stadium on Monday Night Football against the Saints. Edwards did not have the kind of career the franchise was hoping for with the Raiders, but he is still playing, and is coming off a three-sack season in New Orleans.
The good news is, the current Raider wearing No. 97 has the talent to become the best player to ever wear the jersey number, as there are high expectations on newcomer Maliek Collins. Collins is a very underrated player, and along this young, and talented Raiders defensive line, he will be a key cog in what they do in 2020 and beyond.