Who Will Be the Raiders' Award Winners in 2012?
As we grow ever closer to the start of the season (why is it taking so darn long?), it’s time to start considering who might be the standout performers for the Oakland Raiders this season. No matter how the team performs, no doubt there will be some great individual efforts this year. So let’s speculate as to who might have a great year for the Raiders this season.
MVP: Carson Palmer
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I covered this in an earlier article, because in my mind, Palmer is the logical choice. He’s the quarterback, and the quarterback has the ball in his hands more than anybody.
But beyond that, Palmer is also the most talented player on the roster; yes, even more talented than the amazingly fast Darren McFadden. Palmer possesses an ability to throw the ball with incredible power and accuracy if he chooses the right spot. Much like the original gunslinger, Brett Favre, Palmer’s mistakes often come from errors in judgment, not ability. There’s no doubt that he can make all the throws, but he has to make the right reads beforehand.
Look for him to have a bounce-back season this year. He’s still going to make some boneheaded passes that infuriate you at times, but I expect him to make more great throws than terrible throws this season. I’ll also choose him as the Offensive Player of the Year, because let’s be honest, when has the MVP not also been the OPY?
As much as we may say that “defense wins championships,” we still always favor the offense when it comes to offseason awards.
Defensive Player of the Year: Tyvon Branch
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Is there a better choice for this award than Tyvon? I don’t think so. Branch is that rare combination of talent that can help in coverage and in run defense. Does he excel in either? Not always. But he can make big plays in both aspects of the game and is a very gifted tackler.
New coach Dennis Allen ought to have a defensive philosophy that leads to a better performance from the front seven, so hopefully, Branch doesn’t need to contribute as much to run defense. I’ll be very interested to see him focus more on coverage, and I’ll bet that he responds well to it.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Rod Streater, WR
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Streater has been earning rave reviews in camp and appears to be a possible sleeper candidate this season. An undrafted free agent out of Temple, Streater has impressed coaches so much, he was running offseason drills with the starters when receiver Denarius Moore was out due to injury.
Fellow rookie receiver Juron Criner is more physically talented than Streater, but terribly slow (he ran a 4.68 40-yard dash at the combine). Look for Streater to impress this season with great plays at unexpected times.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Miles Burris, OLB
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This is a bit of a surprise pick from me because I wasn’t so high on Burris when the Raiders drafted him in the fourth round of the draft. Look, there’s no doubt that Burris is very physically gifted, but that doesn’t always translate to NFL success. But I’m picking Burris because I think he’s going to come in motivated to prove he wasn’t a bad pick and will surprise people with his play-making ability.
Although Aaron Curry gave the Raiders’ front seven a nice boost in the second half of the year, the linebacking corps still left a lot to be desired. There’s plenty of opportunity for Burris to show he’s the real deal, and I think he’ll take ample advantage of it.