The halfway point of the 2016 NFL season is approaching, and the Oakland Raiders enter Week 8 with a record of 5-2. The Silver and Black have been able to achieve their current record with solid performances from a variety of players.
The Raiders have an arsenal of weapons on their roster, so let's take a look at seven potential Pro Bowl candidates from the team.
**Quarterback Derek Carr
In the early going, Carr has looked like a potential MVP-candidate, and has earned the respect and praise of several football analysts around the country. The third-year signal-caller has completed 65.9 percent of his passes for 1,808 yards, 13 touchdowns, and limited his interceptions to only three. What doesn't show up in the stat sheet is his ability to lead clutch game-winning drives in the final moments of games.
Punter Marquette King
King has established himself as one of the premier punters in the NFL, and ranks second in multiple categories. The punter out of Fort Valley State has placed the football within the 20-yard line 15 times, tied for the second-best in the NFL this season. According to ProFootballFocus, in Week 4 against the Baltimore Ravens, King's performance earned him the best grade for any punter in the last 10 years. Needless to say, the man is putting his best foot forward to make the Pro Bowl.
Wide Receiver Michael Crabtree
Crabtree spent a majority of his career across the Bay in San Francisco helping the 49ers reach a Super Bowl, but also battling injuries. Now in his second season with the Silver and Black, the eight-year veteran is producing at a high-level with a solid quarterback throwing his direction. Through seven games this year, Crabtree is tied with wide receiver Mike Evans for the most receiving touchdowns. His strong hands, consistent production, and athletic ability provide the Raiders with reliable weapon on offense.
Defensive End Khalil Mack
Oakland's defense hasn't been stellar this season, but regardless of the numbers, Mack continues to demonstrate he can cause problems for opposing offensive lines. On the year he has three sacks, but has 32 tackles, which ranks as the third-best among defensive lineman. His physicality, speed, and aggression prove to be a handful for offensive lines week-in and week-out. Mack's numbers should improve going forward.
Wide Receiver Amari Cooper
Last season, Cooper was the sixth Raider in franchise history to be named to the Pro Bowl in their rookie campaign. In his second season in the league, the Alabama-product has shown his immense talent and athletic abilities. He currently ranks sixth this season in receiving yards with 614, only trailing star players like Odell Beckham, Jr., Julio Jones, and A.J. Green. Cooper should continue performing at a high level for the remainder of the season.
Linebacker Bruce Irvin
The former Seahawk has never participated in a Pro Bowl before, but could potentially make his first appearance in the NFL All-Star game as a member of the Silver and Black. Over the course of his four years in Seattle, Irvin forced four fumbles, in his first seven games as a Raider he's already matched that number. As a compliment to fellow pass rusher Khalil Mack, Irvin has been able to pressure the quarterback and force costly mistakes. Irvin can thrive in his role on the Raiders, and going forward should continue to convey his versatility.
The Offensive Line
The Raiders offensive line has been productive all season, limiting defenders from reaching the quarterback, and each member of the group deserves to be considered for their stellar play thus far. Derek Carr has only been sacked seven times, and hit 15 times, both of which are the fewest in the NFL. The team has been able to thrive because of the pass protection, and the running lanes provided by the big men in the trenches. What is most impressive is the fact that the offensive line has been able to battle through injuries, and still perform at a high level. Every member of the offensive line – starters and backups – has filled in at some point or another. The tackles, guards, and center never receive much appreciation, but for the 2016 Oakland Raiders, the offensive line has been the core of the team. Don't be surprised if this entire group makes an appearance in Orlando.
Pro Bowl voting is open, vote for any of your favorite Raiders, here.