Two Oakland Raiders were named to the Pro Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie team: linebacker Khalil Mack and defensive tackle Justin Ellis. Many believe Mack’s rookie year was worthy of the Defensive Rookie of the Year award (Aaron Donald took that honor), so his inclusion is not surprising. In fact, being the fifth pick overall comes with such high expectations, it would have been a letdown had Mack not made the 2014 All-Rookie squad.
Ellis, on the other hand, is a nice little surprise for the Raiders. Everyone knew the fourth round pick was a talented player, but with issues maintaining his weight there was concern about his commitment. Ellis, who’s ideal playing weight is in the 330-350 range was closer to 400 lbs when he was drafted. Luckily for the Raiders, the gamble was worth it as Ellis has kept his weight down and played very well this season.
But perhaps the bigger surprise is the fact that Derek Carr was left off of the all rookie team in favor of Teddy Bridgewater. Carr finished the year with 3,270 yards while completing 58.1% of his passes and throwing 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Bridgewater threw for 2,919 yards while completing 64% of his passes and scoring 14 touchdowns with 12 interceptions.
It’s been years since the Raiders have hit on a first round pick. In 2014, the Raiders had four picks who were starters (Gabe Jackson, Khalil Mack, Derek Carr and Justin Ellis) and had a fifth who saw significant playing time before becoming a starter at the end of the year due to injuries (T.J. Carrie). For a team that typically swings and misses in the draft, this was a grand slam of a class.