There have been some major ups and downs this offseason for the Las Vegas Raiders but they did make one great move. The signing of Pro Bowl defensive end Yannick Ngakoue should immediately bolster the team’s pass rush. That’s probably been the biggest area of weakness for the team since they traded Khalil Mack.
The Raiders have been eying Ngakoue for over a year now. They tried to trade for him around draft time last year. They didn’t end up pulling off a deal but he admitted that he has been hoping he would land in Las Vegas.
“This was a place that I always dreamt about being to work, but also the Raiders organization definitely tried to reach out and grab me early in the process and unfortunately it didn’t go the way we both wanted,” Ngakoue said. “It took time and ultimately I’m back here where I wanted to be. Everything happens for a reason.”
Based on those comments, it’s clear that Ngakoue has wanted to be a Raider for some time. If he can average 10 sacks a season while he’s with the team, he’s going to quickly become a superstar in the fan base.
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Ngakoue Talks Gus Bradley Connection
One of the big reasons the Raiders likely had to have Ngakoue this offseason was the fact that they hired Gus Bradley as the team’s defensive coordinator this offseason. Bradley coached the defensive end during his rookie season in Jacksonville. He’s hyped about teaming up with his former coach.
“It was a no-brainer,” Ngakoue said of playing under Bradley again. “Coach Gus had input in drafting me back in 2016, he knows what I bring to this game, and I feel like that’s a coach that knows how to utilize my skillset to make it super effective to help the team as much as possible. So, with Gus being here I know it’s like another father figure for me, it’s another guy that can help me out when I’m out here on a different coast, so it’s a blessing.”
Bradley was clear when he took the Raiders job that they have to fix the defensive line. Signing Ngakoue is a big step in the right direction. There are still plenty of kinks to work out but there’s no doubt the team’s pass rush will be better in 2021.
Ngakoue Believes Raiders Have Talent on Defense
Over the last few years, the Raiders have fielded some of the worst defenses in the NFL. They’ve tried to address it through the draft and have found some solid players. However, it hasn’t translated to on-field success. Ngakoue believes the Raiders do have talent and just need to step things up.
“You got a lot of defensive talent … defensive linemen that if we can just jell together and put the knowledge that we have as far as playing the run and pass rush that we can turn this thing around and make it real special and get over the hump,” Ngakoue said.
The Raiders have invested heavily in young players on defense but the results haven’t been great. Bradley has a history of developing players so perhaps he’s a better guy for the job than Paul Guenther was. There’s no way to know until the Raiders hit the field in 2021.