The Las Vegas Raiders have been absolutely starved for pass-rushing talent since they traded away Khalil Mack. When the team drafted Clelin Ferrell early in the first round, they figured he was Mack’s heir apparent. While he did flash potential at times, he was completely overshadowed by fourth-round pick Maxx Crosby. Crosby didn’t flash much in the team’s first few games, but he blew up over the last three-quarters of the season and finished with 10 sacks on the year.
Crosby’s development wasn’t supposed to be as rapid as it was. He was supposed to be more of a project thanks to his relatively skinny frame. He surprised many and added on a lot of muscle before the season started and proved that the Raiders got an absolute steal. Howie Long is one of the greatest Raider defensive linemen ever and he had some extremely high praise for “Madd Maxx.”
“Well, Crosby is an interesting guy,” Long said. “I said, golly, I think it was week four or week five… Crosby to me — I think he was a fourth-rounder — he reminds me a lot of Jared Allen. He’s like a big kind of flamingo with long arms, and I think he does what you want to see Ferrell do more of, which is just letting it loose. Instead of trying to be perfect, just cut it loose.”
The Jared Allen-Maxx Crosby comparison has been thrown around a bit and there’s a reason why. They were both fourth-round picks out of small schools and game out of the gates with strong rookie seasons. They are also very similar in size. Allen was a four-time All-Pro in his career and accumulated 136 sacks, so the Raiders would be very happy if Crosby even got close to that level of production.
Long Urges Patience With Clelin Ferrell & Crosby
Though Crosby got a faster start out the gate, the Raiders are still high on Ferrell. He was a very productive player in college and did show signs of amazing potential during the season. If Ferrell and Crosby can continue to get better, they could form a very strong defensive end duo. People want to see both of them produce right away, but Long pointed out that it takes time for young players to reach their full potential.
“It’s a difficult transition [from college to the pros] and one of the things that’s always been in my mind a hallmark of the organization is patience with young players, and that’s hard to have,” he said. “We’re in an attention deficit society and we want it now. We want our second-round picks and our first-round picks to be great right now, but if that were the case when I got drafted we’d be in trouble. I think as an organization I think they’re ready to take a step forward.”
Some are ready to label Ferrell a reach by the Raiders because he was outplayed by a number of players taken after him. That said, he still has plenty of time to develop into a really good player. The team has a new defensive line coach in Rod Marinelli and maybe he can unlock Ferrell’s full potential.
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Long Talks Raiders Future
With a massive move to Las Vegas for the Raiders already in motion, there’s a lot of excitement around the team. The Raiders improved quite a bit from 2018 to 2019 and Long thinks big things are on the horizon, but explained what the team needs to do to get over the hump.
“I think transitioning to Las Vegas with the cap room they have, and the picks, I think they’re excited about the prospect of fielding a very good team and being better down the stretch,” Long said. “One thing they discovered over the last four, five weeks of the season is the depth. The really good teams have great depth and they don’t have that right now.”
The Raiders fell apart towards the end of the year and much of that was because of injury. It will be a big focus for the team to compile a deeper roster heading into 2020. Fortunately, they are armed with the cap space and draft picks to make a splash in the offseason.