The Las Vegas Raiders defense only mustered 27.0 sacks last season, which was the third-lowest of any team in the NFL. Pro Bowl defensive end Maxx Crosby was responsible for 12.5 of them. The biggest area where the team struggled to get to the quarterback was from the interior of the defensive line.
Raiders defensive tackles combined for 3.0 sacks last season. The team didn’t make any significant moves to address the position outside of using a third-round pick on Alabama’s Byron Young. It’s a position group the team could consider addressing further as training camp nears. There are still some appealing options in free agency. In a June 26 column, Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox pushed the Raiders to sign former Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Matthew Ioannidis.
“Ioannidis has also remained productive through his seven-year career, recording at least 31 tackles and a sack in four of his last five seasons—he missed all but three games in 2020 with a torn biceps,” Knox wrote.
“At 29 years old, he is also still young enough to be a potential long-term piece of the Raiders defense. He could obviously help Las Vegas’ run defense this season, but adding him wouldn’t be strictly a win-now move.”
Background on Matthew Ioannidis
Matthew Ioannidis originally came into the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick of the Washington Commanders in 2016. He started to carve out a role in his second season with the team and had 4.5 sacks. He had 7.5 sacks the following year and then 8.5 sacks the season after. However, he hasn’t been as productive of a pass rusher in recent years.
He has combined for 5.0 sacks over the last three seasons. He joined the Panthers last year and only gave them one sack. Injuries are also a concern as he has only played a full season just once in his career in 2019. Overall, he has 25.5 sacks over his career, which is more than any current Raiders defensive tackle.
Las Vegas Raiders DL Ranked 24th in the NFL
Rushing the passer is something the Raiders have struggled to do for years. The team hasn’t been top-15 in the NFL in sacks since the 2015 season. Maxx Crosby is one of the top pass rushers in the league right now and they just added Texas Tech defensive end Tyree Wilson with the No. 7 pick in the 2023 NFL draft. That’s not to mention Chandler Jones, who has the third most sacks all-time among active players with 112.0.
Despite all of that, Zoltan Buday of Pro Football Focus isn’t convinced that the Raiders have a strong unit. In a June 16 column, he went through and ranked all of the defensive lines in the NFL. The Raiders came in at 24.
“Maxx Crosby earned a top-five grade in both 2021 and 2022 and has cemented himself as one of the best edge rushers in the league. However, none of the other members of the Raiders’ defensive line managed to rank in the top 64 at their position in 2022, which shows the struggles this unit can expect in 2023,” Buday wrote.
“This year’s seventh overall pick, Tyree Wilson, could be the savior of this unit, but it remains to be seen when he will be able to get on the field for Las Vegas following his foot injury.”
The Raiders have the potential to be a top pass-rushing unit, but they still have a lot to prove.