T.J. Carrie Is Unheralded Star of Raiders’ Rookie Class

Quarterback Derek Carr, outside linebacker Khalil Mack and left guard Gabe Jackson have highlighted the Oakland Raiders’ outstanding rookie class in 2014, but cornerback TJ Carrie is the unheralded star of the group.

In many ways, the seventh-rounder out of Ohio University has outshone last year’s first-round pick, D.J. Hayden.

Both of Oakland’s young cornerbacks are playing well, but it’s rare for a rookie to do so—especially a seventh-round pick. So fear not, Raider Nation, because that says more good about Carrie than bad about Hayden.

Outside of quarterback, cornerback is perhaps the most difficult transition from the college game, so Carrie’s play is notable. Carrie has actually been impressing since training camp, but he’s been lost in a troubled season and overshadowed by his fellow rookies.

When Bleacher Report presented its mid-season All-Rookie team, Carrie garnered three votes as a returner and, surprisingly at the time, two votes as a cornerback. A lot has changed in the few weeks since then, and Carrie is one of the players on the list who has actually strengthened his case.

In addition to his stellar play at cornerback, Carrie recently reclaimed his role at punt returner. For the first eight games, Carrie was the primary punt returner. However, an injury slowed him down and the team explored other options because he was more valuable as a cornerback.

Now that he is completely healthy and primary kickoff returner Latavius Murray started getting the bulk of the carries at running back, Carrie has become the team’s best option to return kicks as well as punts. Carrie isn’t getting good blocking, but he’s doing better than anyone else for the Raiders in both roles. 

In last week’s upset win over the 49ers, Carrie made several plays that serve as a great example of what makes him the unh...

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