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Two Raiders named to all-rookie team

A duo of Oakland Raiders were named to the Pro Football Writers Association all-rookie team.

Somehow, quarterback Derek Carr was not one of them.

Linebacker Khalil Mack and defensive tackle Justin Ellis were voted all-rookie by the PFWA, with Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater edging out Carr.

Carr put up numbers that are well above the NFL average for a rookie passer: 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, 3,270 passing yards, a 58.1 percent completion rate, and took only 24 sacks despite a questionable offensive line.

His surrounding cast on offense was questionable, and the run game was absent until the Week 12 emergence of running back Latavius Murray.

Bridgewater did not have the same personnel woes, nor did he face the number of quality opponents Carr did.

He also threw only 14 touchdowns to 12 interceptions — nearly double the interception to touchdown ratio as Carr.

He played better throughout the year, though Carr received my vote. And Bridgewater wasn’t even close in statistical and eye-test evaluations.

Mack and Ellis were phenomonal in their rookie seasons, and Mack finished as one of the best players in the league, especially at his position.

Speaking of which, isn’t always linebacker.

Despite finishing the season as the best 4-3 outside linebacker in pass coverage, Mack often lined up with his hand in the dirt — especially after defensive end Lamarr Woodley was placed on injured reserve.

Mack was often double-teamed as the focal point of many offenses’ pass and run blocking. It got to the point that several opposing coaches noted during telephone interview that Mack was held on a number of plays.

Yet he still finished with 48 stops — individual plays that constitute an offensive failure — according to That’s more than Von Miller, Geno Hayes, K.J. Wright and Anthony Barr.

Justin Ellis wasn’t nearly as dominant, though he was more than serviceable as a rookie. Fifteen stops with 10 quarterback hurries while playing the run more often than the pass, Ellis finished the season in similar light as Timmy Jernigan (Baltimore), Aaron Donald (St. Louis), and Kony Ealy (Carolina).

So, for some part, there’s some consolation for Raiders fans who whole-heartedly feel as though Carr got snubbed. And for that, you’re not wrong.

How I Voted

Award Vote
Rookie of the Year Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders
Offensive Rookie of the Year Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers
Defensive Rookie of the Year Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders
Rookie Quarterback Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
Rookie Running Backs Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams; Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals
Rookie Wide Receivers Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers; Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
Rookie Tight End Richard Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Rookie Center Weston Richburg, New York Giants
Rookie Guards Gabe Jackson, Oakland Raiders; Joel Bitonio, Cleveland Browns
Rookie Offensive Tackles Ja’Wuan James, Miami Dolphins; Taylor Lewan, Tennessee Titans
Rookie Defensive Linemen Justin Ellis, Oakland Raiders; Aaron Donald, St. Louis Rams; Aaron Lynch, San Francisco 49ers; Timmy Jernigan, Baltimore Ravens
Rookie Linebackers Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders; C.J. Mosley, Baltimore Ravens; Anthony Barr, Minnesota Vikings
Rookie Cornerbacks Jason Verrett, San Diego Chargers; Kyle Fuller, Chicago Bears
Rookie Safeties Terrence Brooks, Baltimore Ravens; Tre Boston, Carolina Panthers

Note: There are a number of Raiders on my ballot. Yes, I cover the Oakland Raiders. No, that did not influence my votes. Every decision was made with thorough analysis from film and stats provided by multiple services. 

Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.

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