The Las Vegas Raiders have been working hard in OTAs but there have been a couple of notable absences. The prize of free agency for the team was former Pro Bowl pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue. There’s a ton of excitement surrounding Ngakoue but he has yet to show up to OTAs.
He’s stayed silent on the matter and there hasn’t been any word on what he’s been up to. Ngakoue finally broke his silence and revealed how he’s been spending the offseason. The defensive end showed off an impressive physique and revealed he’s gained 12 pounds since last season.
Ngakoue has clearly been putting in some hard work and has bulked up. He’s been one of the best pass rushers in the NFL over the last few years but hasn’t always been effective in the run game. The added muscle could help him be more impactful in run defense.
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Ngakoue Named Among Best Offseason Additions
The Raiders’ pass rush has been among the NFL’s worst over several years. They’ve tried addressing the issue in the draft but have had mixed results. By signing Ngakoue, the team now has a proven sack artist and he will get after the quarterback. According to ESPN’s Mike Clay, signing the defensive end was one of the best moves by any team this offseason.
“Ngakoue is a huge addition for a Raiders defense that ranked 29th in sacks last season and hasn’t ranked better than 24th in the category since 2015,” Clay wrote. “Las Vegas now has plenty of potential in the sack department, with Ngakoue joining youngsters Maxx Crosby, Clelin Ferrell and Malcolm Koonce on the edge.”
The addition of Ngakoue should also open things up for other Raiders defensive linemen. The most appealing thing about him is his consistency. He’s never had less than eight sacks in a season.
Jon Gruden Comments on Ngakoue
After the 2020 season ended, Jon Gruden made it clear that the Raiders needed to get better on defense. The quickest way to make that happen is to have a great pass rush. Gruden believes that Ngakoue is the key to the entire Raiders defense.
“The quarterback can’t make a pizza standing back there. You just can’t let him go back there and cook dinner and look around back there and throw the ball. We have to get after the quarterback. So, it all starts with Ngakoue,” Gruden said recently told the Raiders Report. “Getting Yannick in here, a guy we think can be a great pass rusher, we draft a kid named Malcolm Koonce [and we tell him], ‘Just watch Ngakoue — watch what he does. You’ll learn something.’ And I think Solomon Thomas, Quinton Jefferson are going to give us a better inside rush than we have had. And we’ll see. You know Maxx [Crosby] will be there, and I’m expecting more from Cle Ferrell as well.”
The Raiders already have a solid offense and should continue to be good in 2021. If the defense can start to pick up the slack, Las Vegas could be back in the playoffs.