General Manager Reggie McKenzie and Defensive End Khalil Mack
Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was the Oakland Raiders.
General Manager Reggie McKenzie has spent the last four years constructing a team that's about to play its first playoff game in 14 seasons. For a franchise that's been hungry to win, McKenzie never rushed the process of establishing a foundation for a team that wants to contend for a Super Bowl.
2016 free agent acquisitions like safety Reggie Nelson and linebacker Bruce Irvin have helped bolster a Raiders defense that is tied for the league lead in takeaway differential ( 16). After losing veteran safety Charles Woodson a season ago, the added leadership of Nelson and Irvin has helped a young team grow in its maturation.
Undrafted free agent finds like running back Jalen Richard and fullback Jamize Olawale have proved to be effective in an already dangerous Raiders offensive attack. Obviously McKenzie's 2014 picks of defensive end Khalil Mack and quarterback Derek Carr will be cornerstone pieces to the franchise for years to come, but his patience and ability to find talent lurking under the surface have attributed to the Silver and Black's recent success.
Mack's success this season has been more than noteworthy. The All-Pro defensive end has tallied 11 sacks, five forced fumbles, and a pick-six off of last season's NFL MVP. His clutch performances in the closing moments against the Carolina Panthers and the Buffalo Bills solidified two of the Raiders' 12 wins.
What's scary about No. 52's production level is that he's only 25 years of age and in his third-year has established himself as an elite pass rusher. Mack and McKenzie have both contributed to the Raiders success, which is why MMQB has named them their Defensive Player of the Year and Executive of the Year.
A panel of 31 members voted on the categories and consisted of the media, former and active NFL personnel, such as Browns quarterback Josh McCown and NFL's Ian Rapoport. The official league awards will be given out on February 4th in Houston, Texas at the NFL Honors event night. If you'd like to read MMQB's full article it can be viewed, here.