The first day of free agency was pretty light for the Las Vegas Raiders but they did make a very big move. The team has been desperate for a top-tier pass rusher since they traded away Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears. Though Mack is pretty much irreplaceable, the Raiders were able to land one of the better pass rushers in the NFL with the signing of Yannick Ngakoue.
The 2018 Pro Bowler has never had a season where he notched less than eight sacks. Not a single Raiders player last season reached eight sacks. The addition of Ngakoue should help the entire defensive line. Maxx Crosby, Clelin Ferrell and Arden Key all had strong reactions to the news.
It’s good to see that the young Raiders’ defensive ends are happy about their new teammate. Some players might not love having a proven star taking away their reps. Regardless, the team needed a boost at pass rush and that’s exactly what Ngakoue will bring. Even if Las Vegas doesn’t make any more moves in free agency, they have to be happy that they found a star pass rusher.
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Ferrell & Ngakoue Will Likely Start
With Ferrell and Crosby, the Raiders certainly have a pair of young defensive ends that they like. The former is a stout run-stuffer while the latter is good at getting to the quarterback but not stopping the run. With Ngakoue coming to town, one of them will be pushed down the depth chart.
The most likely candidate is Crosby. The Raiders love him and he’s been their best pass rusher over the last two seasons. However, Ngakoue is also a non-factor against the run. Las Vegas isn’t paying him $13 million a year so that he can come in on third downs. While Crosby will see his role lessened, this could be really good for him. He can now focus on rushing the passer, which is what he’s really good at. With Crosby and Ngakoue on the defensive line, the Raiders should see their sack numbers go way up but they need to sure up more spots on the defensive line.
Raiders Still Need to Upgrade Interior DL
Adding Ngakoue was a great move but that doesn’t mean the Raiders’ defense is going to be elite overnight. They need to upgrade defensive tackle. Maliek Collins signed elsewhere and Johnathan Hankins is a free agent. As good as Ngakoue is, he spent a lot of his career having Calais Campbell next to him wreaking havoc on the inside.
Maurice Hurst has shown some really good flashes but the Raiders still need more. The team doesn’t need to spend big but they should at least find somebody who can push the pocket from the inside. Free agency and the draft won’t offer a ton of great options this year but the Raiders can land an impact player. If they can get some push from the inside, the entire defense will be better off.