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Raiders 2018 midseason awards: MVP, best rookie, Top Baller & Busters

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It’s the halfway mark of the 2018 season. Time to dole out some awards.

New York Jets v Oakland Raiders Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

On a team like this, it can be hard to find positives. Many of the awards end up being the lesser of the evils. But that’s just where we are. Even the lesser of the evils deserve credit for not being as terrible as everyone else.

Rookie of the midseason

Maurice Hurst

There also hasn’t been a lot of competition for this slot. Hurst hasn’t been able to make a huge impact for the Raiders’ defense, but he’s been a steady presence who, should he get some help from the outside pass rush at some point, could make and impact in future seasons. He leads the current roster with 2.0 sacks along with 17 tackles and has batted down 3 passes at the line.

Top newcomer

Daryl Worley

Though he’s only played four games, he’s shown himself to be the best defensive back on the team. He’s aggressive, both in coverage and as a tackler. He has one interception and four passes defended in those four games.

Breakout player

Gareon Conley

Basically a rookie because he missed all but two games his rookie season with a shin injury. The team needed him to be healthy this season and start at one of the cornerback spots. He needs to work on his tackling, but his coverage has been good. He has certainly stepped up to be the starting cornerback they need him to be.

Most disappointing addition

Offense: Martavis Bryant

Defense: Tahir Whitehead

There were a few candidates for this one. Especially if you include coaches (which I didn’t). Some who didn’t make the cut, but could have include Jordy Nelson who hasn’t been the upgrade over Michael Crabtree he was supposed to be. Rashaan Melvin for giving up big plays and then getting benched. Or Derrick Johnson who was benched and then released; though anyone who expected much from a 36-year-old was fooling themselves.

Gruden sent a third round pick to the Steelers for Bryant only to cut him before the season and then re-sign him. He was supposed to be the piece to this receiving corps that would make it among the better units in football. He’s done next to nothing. He wasn’t even named the starter after Amari Cooper was traded away.

Most expected Whitehead to be the team’s top free agent acquisition and he’s been plain dreadful. He hasn’t hardly stopped a pass to his receiver all season and doesn’t stop a lot of runs from getting by him either. Not what the Raiders expected from their top defensive signing.

Surprise player

Marquel Lee

We didn’t see much from Lee last season to suggest that he could step into a starting role with this team. Now a half season in, he’s easily the team’s best linebacker. Even if that is a pretty low bar.

Best position group


The depth at this position is a nice surprise. Even with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie’s sudden retirement, they still have plenty of corners to rotate, all of whom have shown enough talent to step up. Daryl Worley, Gareon Conley, Rashaan Melvin, Leon Hall, and Nick Nelson is a decent group. You may just not see it considering the lack of a pass rush has allowed opposing quarterbacks days to find an open receiver.

Best game

Week 4 vs Browns

Their only win, so...yeah. It required a late comeback against a bad and beat up Browns team to tie it up at 42-42 and take it to overtime where they won it. But it was the only time this season the Raiders showed fight late in a game. In so doing, the offense put up some big numbers with Derek Carr throwing for over 100 yards, and Jared Cook, Amari Cooper, and Marshawn Lynch each going over 100 yards.

Those numbers allowed them to put up 21 points in the fourth quarter and win it in overtime. Even in the games early in the season in which they were competitive, they fizzled out down the stretch. Since that win over the Browns, they haven’t been competitive at any point in any game.

Special teams player of the midseason

Dwayne Harris

It was basically between Harris and the long snapper. I went with Harris. He contributes all over the special teams units. He returns punts and kicks and plays coverage teams as well and leads the team with 7 specials teams tackles.


Rodney Hudson

The steady hand on this Raiders team that has been erratic at most every position. Even while Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson are not having great seasons beside him, Hudson continues being one of the best centers in the league. He has given up just two pressures all season and routinely gets downfield on run blocks.

Top Baller

Marshawn Lynch

A Top Baller once this season and a Ballers a total of four times in his six games. Jon Gruden said it best when he said Lynch was the heart and soul of this team. He put up 376 yards in six games which put him on pace to go over 1000 yards this season. And many times he was misused or underused. Not to mention he was once again running behind a Tom Cable offensive line that was getting him hit at or behind the line quite a bit.

Honorable mention

Jared Cook

Cook had three great games for the Raiders. He opened the season with a bang, catching 9 passes for 180 yards. His 494 yards receiving still leads the team, putting him on pace to approach 1000 yards this season.


Jon Gruden

A buster four times and twice Top Buster. Gruden destroyed any chance this team could compete this season by trading Khalil Mack a week before the opener. It was a kick to the gut of a team that actually had hopes of competing this season. His offense has been dreadful, second only to the historically bad defense. The team morale is shot and players are fleeing this sinking ship en masse.

Derek Carr

Also a Buster four times and Top Buster twice. Carr’s pass numbers look great, but his touchdowns are way down and his interceptions are way up. He has had two good games this season and each time fell flat on his face the following week.

Tahir Whitehead

Can’t stop anything as mentioned above.

Kolton Miller, Brandon Parker

The rookie tackles. Both are among the worst tackles in the league. Miller has been injured some which has caused him to give up a lot of sacks over the past few games (7) after starting out the season holding up well. Neither is ready for their starting roles, but here we are.

Reggie Nelson, Marcus Gilchrist

The elder statesman and the journeyman. Both playing like it. This is the safety tandem Paul Guenther trots out over and over because he sees them as the most capable of running his defense. That hasn’t worked out well. Time to try something else.

Rashaan Melvin

Was a Buster three times in the first five games. Was benched in the sixth. And has been inactive the past two weeks.

Arden Key

The rookie showed some outstanding pass rush moves in camp. Turns out maybe that was just because he was facing Raiders tackles. He has mostly disappeared this season, getting just 1.0 sack who more often showing a lack of discipline versus the run.

Martavis Bryant

See above.

Johnny Townsend

The worst punter in the league. No, seriously. He’s ranked dead last (33rd) in average (41.9) and is 29th in punts inside the 20 (6). The past few weeks he seems to have forgotten how to punt, with punts of 23, 25, 27, and 28 yards.