Sebastian Janikowski was an Oakland Raider for 18 years until last week when the team announced it would not re-sign him this year. Janikowski, a free agent, intends to continue to play.
While Janikowski is on the way out, his legacy was so rare and complicated it is still worth looking at the circumstances.
Janikowski, of course, was a shocking selection of the Raiders with the No. 17 pick of the 2000 draft. He was the first primary placekicker to be drafted in the first round of the modern era. Many people thought the late Al Davis made a mistake by taking Janikowski. Some in the Raiders’ organization also weren’t sold on the Seabass idea. It’s been reported that then-Raiders coach Jon Gruden – who, of course – is the Raiders’ new coach, wanted to draft either Alabama running back Shaun Alexander or Jackson state receiver Sylvester Morris at No. 17 instead of a kicker.
Alexander went to Seattle at No. 19 and Morris went at No. 21 to Kansas City.
Alexander had a great NFL career. He was a two-time All-Pro selection and he was the NFL MVP in 2005 as he led the Seahawks to the Super Bowl. He led the NFL in rushing twice and Alexander was on the NFL 2000s All-Decade team. He obviously would have been a terrific choice. Morris, though, was a bust. Injuries curtailed his career. He had just 48 career catches.
Below is how the 2000 first round shook out after the Raiders took Janikowski. There are some decent players on this list and there were some busts. Just like every year. Please note Janikowski has played so long it he was drafted in the days before the Houston Texans existed. And that’s why there were only 31 players picked in the first round:
|18||New York Jets||Chad Pennington||QB||Marshall|
|19||Seattle Seahawks||Shaun Alexander||RB||Alabama|
|20||Detroit Lions||Stockar McDougle||T||Oklahoma|
|21||Kansas City Chiefs||Sylvester Morris||WR||Jackson State|
|22||Seattle Seahawks||Chris McIntosh||T||Wisconsin|
|23||Carolina Panthers||Rashard Anderson||FS||Jackson State|
|24||San Francisco 49ers||Ahmed Plummer||CB||Ohio State|
|25||Minnesota Vikings||Chris Hovan||DT||Boston College|
|26||Buffalo Bills||Erik Flowers||DE||Arizona State|
|27||New York Jets||Anthony Becht||TE||West Virginia|
|28||Indianapolis Colts||Rob Morris||LB||Brigham Young|
|29||Jacksonville Jaguars||R.Jay Soward||WR||USC|
|30||Tennessee Titans||Keith Bulluck||LB||Syracuse|
|31||St. Louis Rams||Trung Canidate||RB||Arizona|
Honestly, I’ve always operated under the notion that Janikowski was not worth the pick because of a value of a kicker is so less than other position. Yet, it is difficult to argue that someone who spent 18 years with one club and is the team record holder in points scored and games played was a bad choice.
He was a unique choice, but he gave the Raiders value. He has a huge legacy in Oakland.
Would Alexander have been the better choice? Of course. But there’s no sure things in the NFL draft. Janikowski was a special Raider, so he was worth it, no matter that he plays a position where kickers are never taken as high as he was.