The bye week for the Las Vegas Raiders has come at a pretty good time. Not only are the Raiders able to get healthy, but it’s also nearly the halfway point of the season so a perfect time for Silver and Black Pride to drop its midseason awards.
Each writer - Bill Williamson (BW), Marcus Johnson (MJ), BD Williams (BD) and Matt Holder (MH) - submitted their picks for Las Vegas’ MVP, Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year, along with a brief explanation. The only rule was no repeats so a player that wins MVP cannot also be OPOY, and so on.
Consensus pick: Derek Carr
BW: Derek Carr
Carr is an NFL MVP candidate, so this is an easy choice. He has been brilliant in all five of the Raiders’ wins this season. This is finally the year there won’t be any offseason questions about the Raiders’ future at the quarterback position.
MJ: Derek Carr
Derek Carr has become the leader of the franchise with Gruden’s departure. The last two weeks have stood out with tremendous performances back-to-back that have him playing at an elite level. Eye manipulation and anticipation are a part of his game regularly, and it has helped this team get to 5-2 on the young season. It has Carr eighth in ANYA and right in the MVP race.
The former Fresno St. Bulldog is second in the NFL in yards, and if you are into PFF grades, he is also third on that list. While he could throw for more touchdowns, it doesn’t matter when you are leading scoring drives and handing it off for scores as well.
BD: Maxx Crosby
Maybe we’re past the days of defense winning championships, however no player has taken a bigger jump in impact than Crosby. He has shown an increase in focus and strength at the point of attack to round out his game. So far this season he has been thriving in Gus Bradley’s attack oriented scheme. His sphere of influence on the football field has allowed the defense to take the massive strides in 2021.
MH: Derek Carr
This one is pretty easy. Not only has Carr put up some ridiculous numbers and leads or is near the top of just about every statistical category this season, but his leadership has never been better as well. The Raiders’ captain has handled the Gruden situation perfectly and led the team to a 2-0 record since the former head coach’s departure.
Offensive Player of the Year
Consensus pick: Hunter Renfrow
BW: Hunter Renfrow
This was a difficult one. And that’s a testament to the ensemble cast the Raiders have put together on offense. There are so many pieces. But Rneforw does stand out. He is leading the team with 38 catches and it seems like all 38 of them were important.
MJ: Hunter Renfrow
This one was tough for me, but I decided to go with Hunter Renfrow. At the same time, the numbers are not eye-popping. He is still on pace for 90 receptions and 969 yards on the season. Add on his 11 missed tackles forced using PFF metrics. Renfrow is one of the most reliable players on the football team, and he has proven himself as a rising star at the slot position.
BD: Derek Carr
Obviously the passing game showing signs of competing with the high flying aerial attacks of the AFC (Chiefs, Bills) was huge for this teams confidence. However after a shaky two week stretch, Carr has taken control of the offense in the Post-Gruden era —flashing consecutive games of a more surgical passing operation. This offense boasts a plethora of talented wide-outs, the list continues to grow. At some point you got to point to the guy who is distributing the ball.
MH: Hunter Renfrow
The most talented player on Las Vegas’ offense is Darren Waller without a doubt, but Renfrow has been the most valuable, in my opinion. Renfrow leads the team in targets, is tied for the most first downs and has the second-most targets. While a lot of the Raiders’ receivers have put together big, standout performances, the third-down wizard has been the most consistent pass-catcher game in and game out.
Defensive Player of the Year
Consensus pick: Maxx Crosby
BW: Maxx Crosby
Like Carr, Crosby is a candidate for the league award. There’s not a lot to explain here. Maxx has been a monster all season long. He is fresh this year and is a constant pressure threat.
MJ: Maxx Crosby
Defensive POY was the easiest one to answer with Maxx Crosby having a breakout season. According to PFF, he leads the league in total pressures with 47 and is second in win rate at 19.1%. He has been dominant all season and even exhibited his talents against a pro bowl right tackle last weekend. Crosby has emerged as one of the best pass rushers in the NFL.
BD: Denzel Perryman
Perryman’s presence as a run defender between the tackles allows this scheme to go. Sure the Raiders aren’t a great run defense, because they focus on rushing the passer over stopping the run. Perryman’s job is to clean up missed reads and play off the defensive linemen’s leverage to make the scheme correct.
Perryman is the hard hat in the defense, absorbing a ton of blocks and allowing the defensive line to continue in the mindset of hunting the quarterback. Perryman might not be great in coverage, but his contribution to the pass rush is a good enough reason to keep him out there...for now.
MH: Maxx Crosby
This one was actually a little harder for me since Casey Hayward has played like an All-Pro, but ultimately, Crosby impacts the game a little more and has also been the best player at his position. At this rate, Mad Maxx will be in contention for the NFL’s DPOY by the season’s end.
Rookie of the Year
Consensus picks: Nate Hobbs and Tre’von Moehrig
BW: Nate Hobbs
Second-round pick, safety Tre’von Moherig is having a nice season, but Hobbs has made a big impact and has been a stabilizing force at cornerback. What a great fifth-round pick he was.
MJ: Tre’von Moehrig
The easy player to pick here is Nate Hobbs, but I’m going with Trevon Moehrig. The Raiders are one the best teams playing deep passes over 20 yards in the league, and Moehrig is a big difference-maker. He does not make it to the broadcast since he is playing post safety in a cover 3 system. He already has an interception under his belt. The rookie is displaying promise early on in his career.
BD: Tre’von Moehrig
Certainly a toss up here. Nate Hobbs and Moehrig have each played well as rookies. I give the slight edge to Moehrig however for his ball production; 4 passes defensed, 1 INT. The rookie free safety has also been so steady in the back-end, keeping the top of the defense plugged, you rarely hear his name on gamedays. The defense in top 10 in passing yards per game (223) and Moehrig has allowed only 37.5% catch rate and 45.8 QBR (both lead the team).
MH: Nate Hobbs
Tre’von Moherig has made a push for this award lately, but Hobbs gets the nod for being more consistent all year. This will be a fun side battle to watch throughout the rest season to see which rookie defensive back will outplay the other, the benefactors of which will be the Raiders and all of us.
Comeback Player of the Year
Consensus pick: none
BW: Casey Hayward
There are a few candidates here, but Hayward stands out. He was cut by the Chargers in the offseason and was on the market for nearly two months. He wasn’t great last season. He’s been playing at Pro Bowl level this season.
MJ: Henry Ruggs III
After a disappointing rookie season where the talk of the town was his targets, Henry Ruggs has bounced back in a big way. He leads the team in yards and the league in yards per catch. He has been used more underneath this season, where he displayed in the intermediate pass game. We are seeing him evolve into a complete receiver while building chemistry with Carr.
BD: Solomon Thomas
I wrote Thomas off coming into this year. He was rarely an impactful player earlier in his career with the 49ers. Thomas has taken the necessary steps to ressurect his career, certainly if his current play holds up. Boasting a stop rate of 7.83%, 6th best on defense. Thomas has a serious chance of setting career numbers in every statistical category. His two forced fumbles, and 2 batted passes were the first statistical plays of that kind credited to Thomas at this point in his career.
MH: Johnathan Abram
Hayward is a good pick because he struggled last year and many people in the league thought he was washed, that’s why he was available so late in free agency. However, in the spirit of this award focusing on the Silver and Black, I’ve got to go with Abram. Last year, Abram was a defensive liability at safety, but he’s been playing in the box more this season and has become an impact player.