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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Oakland Raiders
(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images) /

(1982-90). Vann McElroy. 11. player. 28. . FS

  • Super Bowl Champion (XVIII)
  • 2x Pro Bowl (1983-84)
  • 4x Second-Team All-Pro (1983-84, 1986-87)
  • 31 career interceptions for 296 yards in 101 games w/Raiders

The Raiders’ culture of excellence in the defensive backfield had already been established prior to the organization’s move to Los Angeles. One of the first draft picks the Raiders made after leaving Oakland for Los Angeles was two-time All-American safety Vann McElroy out of Baylor.

McElroy was a third-round selection out of Baylor in the 1982 NFL Draft, the first after the Raiders had moved to Southern California. Though he spent nearly all of his decade-long NFL career with the Raiders, his stint with the Silver and Black was exclusively in Los Angeles. Not that it really mattered, as McElroy was a key part of the Raiders’ defensive backfield in the 1980s.

As a second-year pro in 1983, McElroy would experience his breakout season. He started all 16 games, picking off eight passes for 68 yards and a long of 28. Along with three fumble recoveries for five yards, McElroy made his first of two career trips to the Pro Bowl.

He earned his first of four Second-Team All-Pro nods during that campaign as well. Most importantly, the Raiders were able to win Lombardi Trophy No. 3 in franchise history, as Los Angeles took care of business versus the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII. To date, this is the most recent Super Bowl championship earned by the Silver and Black.

McElroy would again be a Pro Bowler in 1984, as well as a Second-Team All-Pro. That fall, he had four interceptions for 42 yards and a long of 31. He recovered four fumbles for 12 yards, too. While he only appeared in 12 games in 1985, McElroy bounced back with another All-Pro season in 1986, where he had seven interceptions for a career-high 105 return yards and a long of 28.

1987 was obviously a strike-shortened campaign, but McElroy did make his fourth and final Second-Team All-Pro squad. He had four interceptions for 41 yards and his only career trip to pay dirt on a 35-yard return.

McElroy would play with the Raiders a few more seasons, but his productivity would wane in the late 1980s. After appearing in only seven games in 1989, McElroy leave the Raiders midway through the 1990 NFL season for the former AFC West rival Seattle Seahawks. McElroy would play 10 more NFL games with Seattle before eventually retiring for good after the 1992 NFL season.

Though not as talented as other Raiders’ defensive backs, McElroy is synonymous with winning during the 1980s. While only high-end complementary defensive back in the NFL at his peak, Los Angeles doesn’t win Super Bowl XVIII without McElroy’s contributions on the gridiron for the Silver and Black. He ended up with 31 career interceptions for 296 yards and a touchdown in 101 games with the Raiders.