Four players on the Oakland Raiders were named to the Pro Football Writers of America 2016 All-AFC team.
The 2016 season was one to remember. Along with a 12-4 record and their first playoff berth in 14 years, the Oakland Raiders earned a long list of accolades along the way.
The most recent set of accolades are the players selected to PFWA’s annual All-AFC team. The players were Khalil Mack, Donald Penn, Rodney Hudson, and Kelechi Osemele.
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Khalil Mack was almost a shoe-in for this honor. On the season, Mack had 73 tackles, 11 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, an interception for which he returned for a touchdown, and a league leading 96 QB pressures. Khalil not only stuffed the stat-sheet, but he gained the reputation on becoming one of the league’s best closers. With added pieces to the defense, you should expect to see Khalil’s name on this list virtually every year.
The other three members of the PFWA All-AFC team were a trio of Raiders offensive lineman, aka ‘Carr Insurance’. The three players are Donald Penn, Rodney Hudson, and All-Pro Kelechi Osemele.
All three players were more than deserving. While giving up the least amount of sacks in the NFL, the offensive line was the main cog in the Raiders being the 6th ranked rushing offense in the NFL, which was a major improvement from the year prior.
The improvement in the run game could be credited to Kelechi Osemele. Osemele brought physicality, but also competed with Gabe Jackson and the other offensive lineman to see who could get the most pancake blocks.
Donald Penn had a Pro Bowl season, and has proven that age is just a number. Penn has more than lived up to his contract, and it is going to be great to see Penn finish his career with the Silver and Black.
Rodney Hudson was regarded by many other teammates as the smartest of the bunch. Hudson keeps a close relationship with Derek Carr, and it has proven because of how reliable each player has become. Quality center play should never be taken for granted.
Below shows how well the O-Line works together, and the scary part is that it is only going to get better.
There were a couple of players that were clearly snubbed. You could easily have made a case for Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Gabe Jackson, and Reggie Nelson.
Amari Cooper had a career high in receptions and yards. Cooper totaled 83 receptions, 1,153 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns. Amari brought a big play ability to his game considering all of his touchdowns were 25 yards plus.
Michael Crabtree had his first 1,000 yard season since 2012. Although Crabtree led the league in drops, he also came up with a whole highlight reel worth of clutch catches. Some of those highlights include the two-point conversion in the season opener, the 49-yard reception late in the 4th quarter against the Panthers which led to a game winning field goal, and let’s not forget the ‘slice of blue’ catch, which was one of the more memorable plays of the season.
Crabtree led the Raiders with 89 receptions, 8 touchdowns, and was 2nd on the team in receiving yards with 1,003.
Gabe Jackson has become the forgotten man on the offensive line. Unfortunately, Jackson was the odd man out on a lot of the accolades, even though he has become a premier guard in this league. Jackson also needs to be strongly commended for willing to make the switch from left guard to right guard, and he only became better and better as the season wore on. Gabe will be poised for a big 2016 season as he grows more comfortable with his new position.
Reggie Nelson did not have his greatest season, and as the season was coming to a close, it appeared that Nelson’s age was clearly starting to show. Although Reggie will not be the long-term answer at free safety, he still led the Raiders with 5 interceptions and also came up with clutch plays late in games. Nelson added 2 fumble recoveries, and 12 passes defensed.