Pass rusher has become one of the most important positions in the NFL and having a defensive lineman who can rush the passer from the interior of the line is incredibly valuable. The Las Vegas Raiders have Maxx Crosby, who is one of the best edge rushers in the NFL but he didn’t get much help last season. Defensive tackles on the team combined for just 3.0 sacks in all of 2022.
The Raiders need to come out of the offseason with a pass-rushing defensive tackle whether it be in free agency or the draft. There’s one player the team should keep a close eye on. Georgia’s Jalen Carter either won’t be available to the team at No. 7 in the first round or his character concerns will scare off most teams. According to Pro Football Focus, the second-best defensive tackle in the draft is Pittsburgh’s Calijah Kancey. Taking him at No. 7 would be a bit of a reach but if the Raiders trade back several picks, Kancey would be a logical fit.
He loves the idea of playing in Las Vegas.
“That would be an honor,” Kancey told Hondo Carpenter of Sports Illustrated about potentially getting drafted by the Raiders. “I would love to play for the Raiders. Especially next to Crosby man, he’s a great, great defensive lineman. He (Crosby) plays with a high-motor and I watch his film as well. He’s a great player, but I would love to come play for the Raiders.”
Kancey Undersized for a DT
If Kancey was 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds, there would be talk of him being a top-5 pick in the upcoming draft. The 2022 ACC Defensive Player of the Year has serious skill as a pass rusher but his lack of size hurts him in the run game. He’s only 6-foot-1 and 280 pounds, which is very small for an interior defender. However, there’s another undersized defensive tackle out of Pittsburgh who got taken in the first round before named Aaron Donald. The Los Angeles Rams star is one of the greatest defensive players ever and was measured at 6-foot-1 and weighed 285 pounds coming out of college.
Donald is the exception to the rule but it’s hard not to see the parallels between Kancey and him. They both received the top athleticism score for a defensive tackle from NFL.com from their respective NFL Scouting Combine performances. Kancey’s 4.67 40-yard broke an almost decade-long record held by Donald’s 4.68 40-yard dash time in 2014.
Kancey Getting Compared to John Randle
Donald isn’t the only all-time defender that Kancey is getting compared to. Some see him as the next John Randle. The Minnesota Vikings Hall of Famer was also undersized during his playing days and his 137.5 sacks are tied for the 10th most in NFL history.
“He is John Randle 2.0, and he is a disruptor about an inch or two taller and never stops,” an executive said of Cancey to Carpenter.
Even if Cancey could provide half of the production that Randle provided the Vikings over his career, it would be a major improvement over what the Raiders have had over the past decade. If Las Vegas doesn’t like any of the quarterbacks available to them in the first round when they pick, they can’t go wrong with giving Cancey a shot as he could potentially fill a massive need for a long time.