The Las Vegas Raiders made a splash in free agency with the addition of defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. His arrival is expected to provide a much-needed boost to a group that Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell already lead.
The Raiders struck gold when they picked up their pair of pass rushers with the first and fourth-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. However, it became evident last season that they needed another sack expert to produce on a consistent basis.
Ngakoue track record as a proven pass rusher should pay some major dividends for this group in the 2021 NFL season. Not only that, his connection to defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has undoubtedly helped ease the transition to Las Vegas.
Although Ngakoue still has yet to report to OTA’s, Crosby is chomping at the bit to get to work with him.
“It’s super exciting. Me and Yannick, we talk often. We talk a lot of things. Obviously, we want him here and he’s going to be here very soon. I can’t wait to just go out there and play with him. He’s a great player, I’ve been watching him from afar. We have a lot of similar influences in our lives and it’s kind of crazy how things work. I’m really excited and looking forward to playing with him. He’s a stud.”
Crosby’s comments are certainly understandable, considering he has not yet had the opportunity to learn from a veteran pass rusher of Ngakoue’s caliber. After all, he has been the Raiders’ go-to option with 17.0 sacks through his first two seasons.
Crosby will now have an opportunity to beef up his repertoire while maintaining an integral role on defense. Meanwhile, head coach Jon Gruden has made it clear that Ngakoue will be tasked with leading the charge when applying consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Fortunately, Gruden has good reason to be confident given Ngakoue’s resume and previous success in Bradley’s scheme. During his rookie year, he put up big numbers with 8.0 sacks, four forced fumbles, and an interception while they were together with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ngakoue still managed to record 8.0 sacks despite playing for two different teams during the 2020 campaign. Not only that, he is admittedly excited to reunite with another familiar face in defensive tackle, Quinton Jefferson.
Ngakoue was one of six players that were not on the field during their recent OTA session. Others include Jefferson, running back Josh Jacobs, tight end Derek Carrier, cornerback Isaiah Johnson and linebacker Divine Deablo.