The Raiders roster contains an immense amount of talent in 2014. The off-season has been filled with acquisitions and changes to lead them into the season will new found hope. With all the talent assembled it will be interesting to see if individuals, while playing for a unified goal can gain enough recognition to make it to the pro bowl.
Both sides of the ball have some players who have the potential to gain their first, second or third pro bowl selections. Who can take that potential and bring it to fruition remains to be seen.
Marcel Reece is the most likely player to gain a pro-bowl selection in 2015. He finally reached that height this year in Hawaii. After a decent season with a great 4.7 yard average per carry Reece was finally recognized for what has been a great career thus far. Entering the 2014 season Reece can return to the Pro Bowl with a 4+ yard per carry average and another consistent performance not only in the running game but in blocking and receiving. His chances at Honolulu highly depend on if the coaching staff gets him the ball.
The next most likely candidate for the Pro Bowl is Maurice Jones-Drew. MJD has made three trips to the big game and led the league in rushing in 2011 with 1,606 yards. Last years Pro Bowl running backs had three things in common. They all had 1,100-plus yards on over 250 rushing attempts for over a 4-yard per carry average. Jones-Drew is highly capable of that kind of season and has done it several times. With a revamped line and more than enough talent in the backfield to help wear defenses down MJD has a great chance at once again being an elite player in the NFL.
Another candidate for a return to the Pro Bowl is Justin Tuck. The two-time pro-bowler has been away from the paid vacation since 2010 and had a great comeback year in 2013. He recorded 11 sacks last season and his numbers were very close to the six defensive ends that made the cut. The one knock on Tuck is his inability to consistently stop the run that is the likely factor that had him on the outside looking in last season. If he can gain a few more sacks, tackles and hurries than the 2013 season Tuck maybe getting his third appearance in the Pro Bowl.
The Raiders have far more than the above three players with the potential to make the Pro Bowl. On offense other likely candidates are Stefen Wisniewski and Matt Schaub. “Wiz” was ranked 10th on profootballfocus.com for NFL centers in 2013 which placed him ahead of two of the four players selected to the Pro Bowl. Another solid year with a better supporting cast may get him the recognition he deserves.
Matt Schaub has been to Hawaii twice and would love to return with a new team. He is one season removed from being a top six QB in the league and could return with a NFL rating of 87 or better, 3,500-plus yards and a good TD/INT ratio. James Jones and Rod Streater will be imperative in reaching those goals.
On defense there are a few players that can make the leap to the Pro Bowl. Lamarr Woodley has not been since 2009 and his numbers have declined every year since. Maybe the new team and great talent around him to rush the quarterback will give him the opportunity and numbers needed to get back to elite status. He will likely be used mostly to rush the quarterback and cause havoc which in turn could mean big “glamour” stats like sacks and QB hits.
Pat Sims could possibly make the leap to the Pro Bowl this year. He was highly ranked on PFF and had a great year on the interior. He simply did not get to the quarterback enough to be notice for the Pro Bowl. His tackles were up there but he only had seven sacks and not enough hurries to make the impact needed. If he can be more disruptive he will be in the running.
Lastly the line backing core is almost all capable of being Pro Bowlers. Sio Moore, in limited time was explosive. Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett played a ton of downs and had big tackle numbers. The wild card will be Khalil Mack. His talent is undeniable but how much he can accomplish in his rookie season is anyone’s guess.
Even talking about Pro Bowl caliber players the last few season for the Raiders has been a short and quiet conversation. With the talent amassed in 2014 the conversation has changed. Look for three to five players to make the trip to Hawaii in early 2015 and hopefully that end recognition will have meant that not only the players but the team was successful in 2014.
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