For the first time in a long time, the Las Vegas Raiders appear to have solid depth along the defensive line. Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby are leading the charge at defensive end with Clelin Ferrell and Carl Nassib coming off the bench. That projects to be the best group of pass rushers the team has had since Khalil Mack was traded.
However, it never hurts to have even more depth. Nassib and Ferrell should be better this year but the two combined for only 4.5 sacks last season. If the Raiders are worried that those two won’t bring much of a pass rush, they could take another look at free agency. Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox believes that former Detroit Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah would be a fit in Las Vegas:
While the 32-year-old is coming off a torn biceps and hasn’t had a double-digit-sack season since 2017, he could still have something to offer the Raiders as a reserve. He had 2.5 sacks and 10 quarterback pressures for the Seattle Seahawks in 2019 despite playing only 32 percent of their defensive snaps.
Ansah doesn’t project as a starter, as the Raiders have their primary edge-defenders in Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby. However, he would be a valuable and likely inexpensive depth option to help keep pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
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Ansah Is Years Removed From Success
It’s been a tough ride for Ansah, who once looked like one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. In 2015, he had 14.5 sacks and was named Second-Team All-Pro. Unfortunately, Ansah has been plagued with injury issues ever since that epic season. The only other season where he played more than 13 games was in 2017 and had 12.0 sacks.
He’s had extreme difficulty staying healthy since 2017. Just last season, Ansah tore a bicep and only played in two games. He should be healthy now but it’s fair to question if his body can last a whole season. Perhaps a situation where he can be on the Raiders’ practice squad and only occasionally play may be best for him at this stage in his career.
Raiders Don’t Need DE Help Yet
It’s clear that many in the media still aren’t buying the Raiders defensive line. However, it’s a group that could surprise some people. Ngakoue and Crosby have looked great this offseason and are poised for an excellent year. Ferrell and Nassib provide capable backups.
Perhaps a more durable player would be welcome but the Raiders can’t count on Ansah. He was once a great pass rusher but those days are in the past. Las Vegas should wait and see how the pass rush comes together this season. Right now, things look like they’re on the rise but the Raiders have disappointed in the past. The team will be thrilled if Crosby and Ngakoue step up as they are both under 27 years old. The two could be the Raiders’ pass-rushing duo for a very long time.
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