Las Vegas Raiders: 15 best defensive backs of all-time

Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Trayvon Mullen (27) Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Trayvon Mullen (27) Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /
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Charles Woodson, Oakland Raiders
Mandatory Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images /

28. . DB. (1998-2005, 2013-15). Charles Woodson. 1. player

  • NFL 2000s All-Decade Team w/Raiders
  • 5x Pro Bowl w/Raiders (1998-01, 2015)
  • 2x First-Team All-Pro w/Raiders (1999, 2001)
  • 2x Second-Team All-Pro w/Raiders (2000, 2015)
  • NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (1998)

Woodson is in that rarefied air of Willie Brown and Mike Haynes as great hall of fame Raider defensive backs. Like Brown and Haynes before him, Woodson earned first-ballot enshrinement. But what made Woodson so great? It’s really not that simple to define, as there may never be another defensive back akin to Woodson.

He was the No. 4 overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft out of Michigan. To date, Woodson is the only predominantly defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy, beating out the likes of Peyton Manning, Randy Moss, and Ryan Leaf.

Woodson won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1998, rattling off four-straight trips to the Pro Bowl in the Silver and Black. From 1999 to 2001, Woodson made three-straight All-Pro teams with the Raiders. He was part of the 2002 AFC Championship team that ultimately fell short to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl.

Frankly after that season, the Raiders went into a slumber as a franchise. Obviously, that had a negative impact on Woodson’s latter part of his first stint in Oakland. After three-straight down years in 2003 to 2005, Woodson would reluctantly sign as a free agent with the Green Bay Packers in 2006. That turned out to be the best thing for his football career.

In Green Bay, Woodson was re-energized, as he made four Pro Bowls and four All-Pro teams during his seven years with the Packers. Twice he would lead the NFL in interceptions – in 2009 and 2011.

Woodson won NFL Defensive Player of the Year with the 2009 Packers. As a member of the 2010 Packers, Woodson got to hoist the Lombardi Trophy for the only time in his career, as Green Bay beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.

After the 2012 NFL season, Woodson decided that he needed to come back to the Raiders to take care of some unfinished business.

Though in his late 30s, Woodson played with the same grace he showed as a young player in the early 2000s and the same purpose he found in the late 2000s with Green Bay.

Though the Raiders weren’t a good football team, perhaps his last season with the team in 2015 brings his whole career into perspective? At 39 years old, Woodson took on a new role of free safety.

Not only did he shine in that new role, but made his ninth career trip to the Pro Bowl and his eighth career All-Pro. Woodson finished his illustrious 18-year NFL career with 65 interceptions for 966 yards and 11 trips to paydirt.

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