Since trading away Khalil Mack before the 2018 season, the Raiders have really struggled to get to the quarterback. But over the last few years, the team has made significant moves to try to upgrade that spot.
Going into the 2021 season, the defensive line finally looks like a unit that will actually be able to create some pressure. Obviously, the team is relying on players like Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby to have big seasons, both players have already had double-digit sack seasons in their careers and are more than capable of doing it again.
In a recent article by ESPN’s Mike Clay Jr., he broke down every positional unit in the NFL heading into the 2021 season. At defensive line, he ranked the Raiders at No. 17 but did say they are a unit that could surprise this season. Here is what Clay had to say about their defensive line this year:
“The Raiders’ defense continues to be torn down and rebuilt during the Jon Gruden era, and that includes at edge rusher. Las Vegas made one of the league’s top free-agent signings when it snagged Yannick Ngakoue from Baltimore. Ngakoue is one of only five players in NFL history with 8.0-plus sacks in each of his first five seasons. The other four? Aaron Donald, Derrick Thomas, DeMarcus Ware and Reggie White. Ngakoue’s running mate will be Maxx Crosby, who sits 14th in the league with 17.0 sacks over the past two seasons. Clelin Ferrell, Carl Nassib and third-round rookie Malcolm Koonce are the top depth options for an ascending group.”
With the addition of Ngakoue and the signing of Gerald McCoy, it’s clear that the depth in Las Vegas at the defensive line position is better than ever. If this group can play like a top-10 unit, the defense might actually have a chance to be better than average this year. Combined with what should be a good offense and this team could easily be a playoff contender.
A strong defensive line is exactly what the Raiders need in order to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2017 season.
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