ALAMEDA – The Raiders had seven players make the Pro Bowl in honor of last year’s 12-4 season.
To the victor, as the cliché goes, go the spoils.
That’s definitely true in a breakout year. After that, respect carries some weight in all-star voting. That’s how the Raiders got four guys into the annual exhibition, which will be played on Jan. 28 in Orlando.
The Raiders list features edge rusher Khalil Mack and offensive linemen Donald Penn, Kelechi Osemele and Rodney Hudson.
The Mack selection was a given. The reigning NFL defensive player of the year has 10.5 sacks with two games remaining, and has 71 total quarterback pressures. He’s also considered one of the NFL’s best run defenders, someone who commands respect with double teams and sometimes more off the edge.
The Raiders blocking trio made the Pro Bowl for a second straight year.
Hudson may be the league’s best center, and is certainly deserving of this honor. Osemele was dominant yet again, and is widely respected for his physicality, pass protection and run blocking. A rusher’s sweet spot is between Osemele and Penn, who man the line’s left side. Penn allowed four sacks this season and was somewhat inconsistent at the start, but closed with his best football before getting hurt Sunday against Dallas.
The Raiders also have six alternates in line to take a Pro Bowl spot should any first-ballot players bow out, an annual postseason tradition among stars around the NFL. Linebacker NaVorro Bowman, quarterback Derek Carr, kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson, offensive lineman Gabe Jackson, running back Marshawn Lynch and punter Marquette King are alternates for this year's game.
King was the biggest surprise omission from the first ballot. He won the fan vote by a decent sum, but Tennessee's Brett Kern, who sports the NFL's highest net punt average, was the AFC's representative.