When the Las Vegas Raiders hired Gus Bradley to take over as the team’s defensive coordinator, he showed a willingness to bring over plenty of players and coaches from the Los Angeles Chargers. One player that seemed like a logical fit was defensive end Melvin Ingram. The three-time Pro Bowler was injured for most of last season but has a long track record of rushing the passer. Considering the Raiders needed defensive line help, it was easy to figure that it would be a matter of time before Bradley brought over his former star defender.
However, nothing happened and Ingram stayed in free agency for months. Even though the Raiders signed Yannick Ngakoue in free agency, it didn’t seem like a bad idea to land Ingram on a cheap deal. Well, he decided to sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers this week so that’s off the table. We now have a bit more information on why Las Vegas wasn’t interested. According to The Athletic’s Vic Tafur, the Raiders were initially interested but found out that he wasn’t in the best shape.
The knee injury he suffered last season likely played a role in why he wasn’t in shape. Had the Raiders been able to pair a healthy Ingram with Ngakoue, the pass rush would be elite. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like they had a chance at adding prime Ingram.
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Raiders Should Be Feeling Good About Pass Rush
Ingram or not, the Raiders have to be feeling a lot better about their pass rush. Ngakoue was a great addition and should immediately lead the team in sacks. In five seasons, he’s never had less than eight sacks. He also should form a strong duo with Maxx Crosby.
“I think that Maxx and myself are the best duo that’s going to come hit the scene,” Ngakoue said during minicamps. “I’m already putting that out there.”
Crosby was banged up last year but still led the team in sacks with seven. As a rookie, he had 10. Having a guy like Ngakoue on the line to help steal some attention should seriously help Crosby’s numbers. If Crosby and Ngakoue are as good as they think they’re going to be, the Raiders’ pass rush should get a big boost.
Raiders Should Consider Adding an Interior Pass Rusher
The Raiders should be just fine on the edges of the defensive line. However, there are still some questions regarding the interior defensive line. They have some solid run defenders in Johnathan Hankins, Quinton Jefferson and Solomon Thomas but none of those guys are strong pass rushers.
Having more push on the inside could do wonders for the defense. Luckily, there are some big names still available. Geno Atkins and Kawann Short were recently cleared to resume football activities. Though those two are getting up there in age, they have been some of the best interior pass rushers in the NFL, especially Atkins. The Raiders should strongly consider trying to sign one of them before training camp.