Defensive line hasn’t exactly been a strength for the Las Vegas Raiders since they traded Khalil Mack. The team was 30th in the NFL in sacks last season, 26th in 2019 and 32nd in 2018. This offseason, the Raiders made it a point of emphasis to upgrade the defensive line.
The biggest addition was Yannick Ngakoue, who has never had a season with less than eight sacks. Outside of him, there are still questions as to whether or not the other defensive ends can consistently get after the quarterback. Jake Rill of Bleacher Report believes the Raiders should take a look at former Cleveland Browns and New York Giants star pass rusher Olivier Vernon, who is currently a free agent:
There are still some question marks on the Raiders’ defensive front, particularly surrounding 24-year-old Clelin Ferrell, who hasn’t lived up to expectations after getting taken with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft. If he underperforms again, then Las Vegas’ depth will be tested, and it could lead to some struggles.
That’s why the Raiders should consider signing Vernon, one of the top remaining free-agent pass rushers, to provide a boost to a unit that held back their defense in 2020. It couldn’t hurt for Las Vegas to have depth there so it can rotate players in and out and keep its defensive front fresh at all times.
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Should Raiders Target Vernon?
The Raiders haven’t been opposed to adding big-name talent since the start of training camp. They signed Gerald McCoy last month and just recently signed K.J. Wright. Las Vegas clearly believes they have a chance to make the playoffs this season and are prepared to go all out.
Vernon had a really good year last year with nine sacks, which was his best total since 2013. However, tore his Achilles in Week 17 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. That’s not the type of injury that a 30-year-old player can always return from. He may not even be fully healthy right now. If he is, then he could be worth taking a chance on. Vernon would provide solid depth and obviously has pass-rushing ability when healthy. Plus, his price would likely be very low right now.
Raiders Should Feel Good About DL
Does it hurt to keep adding solid defensive line depth? Obviously not. However, if the Raiders don’t sign a guy like Vernon, it’s not the end of the world. The team is really hyped about the duo of Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby. Those two could easily combine for 20 sacks next season.
Carl Nassib and Clelin Ferrell will provide the depth at defensive end. Neither guy was that productive last season but could be much improved with Gus Bradley as the defensive coordinator. Ferrell is a really strong run defender while Nassib does provide some pass rush. Now, if anybody of those guys get hurt, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to add a player like Vernon. As of right now, the Raiders appear happy with what they got.