Raiders News: Maxx Crosby Sees ‘Really Bright Future’ For Malcolm Koonce
Malcolm Koonce, Raiders
Buffalo Bulls defensive end Malcolm Koonce (50) in action against the Northern Illinois Huskies during the first half of an NCAA football game on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in DeKalb, Ill. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

The Las Vegas Raiders and general manager Mike Mayock have made it known they are not afraid to draft players several spots higher than when most analysts predict them to go.

The Raiders raised some eyebrows during the 2021 NFL Draft after selecting Alex Leatherwood in the first round. Las Vegas was intent on adding the talented run-blocker though it is likely they could have selected him on Day 2.

In the middle of the third round, the Raiders found themselves on the clock and took defensive end, Malcolm Koonce, No. 79 overall. Again, numerous people called Koonce’s selection another reach, but fellow pass rusher Maxx Crosby believes the rookie has plenty of upside.

“Oh yeah, I talked to [Head] Coach [Jon] Gruden before the draft,” Crosby said. “He was one of the guys that popped up and we watched the film and things of that nature. Obviously, him being a MAC guy, I was somewhat familiar with him and I was happy we drafted him.

“He came in, he’s a super quiet, humble kid. But I like his personality, he wants to come here and be the best player he can possibly be. That’s all you can ask for as a rookie. You try to learn, try to get as healthy as you possibly can to try to get up to speed. He’s been really good. I think he has a really bright future and I’m excited to play with him.”

Defense was the clear focus for the Silver and Black in the draft, and in Koonce, they get another prospect who, in theory, should help their pass-rushing efforts. In his last two seasons at Buffalo, Koonce racked up 14 sacks in 19 games, displaying his length and ability to bend on the edge to get to the quarterback.

There are some concerns about Koonce’s frame and strength, but that should ideally come when he is put into an NFL training program. It may have been a gamble to take Koonce so early, but only time will tell whether or not the Raiders were right to do so.