When it comes to the race for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, it looks as if Cleveland’s Myles Garrett, Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt, and Dallas’ Micah Parsons are leading the pack. But by all accounts, Las Vegas Raiders’ star Maxx Crosby deserves to be in the thick of that conversation as well.
Crosby has more tackles than any player with at least 10 sacks and is tied for the league lead in tackles for loss with 21. Perhaps the lack of team success has hurt Crosby in his quest for the award, but there is no doubt he is one of the best defenders in the NFL, and Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham believes he deserves to be recognized with that award.
“I mean, he’s the most disruptive defensive player in the league, in my opinion,” Graham said. “As much attention as he draws in the run and the pass and still being able to make plays, whether it’s tackles for loss, pressures, QB hits, sacks.
“And then the thing that stands out to me, and I tell him all the time, when he puts on the cape, and he does the Superman stuff in terms of the plays from the backside. I mean, whether it’s a screen, whether it’s chasing down the quarterback, whether it’s backside on the run. You know each week the focus is on him because he’s a game wrecker, and he knows that and he’s embraced that, and he’s still out there making plays.”
For Crosby to do what he has done for the Raiders over the past couple of seasons despite so much focus coming his way every week, and very few other players to help take the pressure off of him, is truly amazing. Graham also noted Crosby’s growth as a leader and raising the level of his teammates as well.
“It speaks to who he is as a person, speaks to who he is as a player, it speaks to his teammates because just naturally he’s raised the level of his teammates,” the Raiders coordinator added. “AP [Antonio Pierce] talked about it because everyone is trying to match his level of intensity.
“And it’s just the influence he has on this locker room, on this organization, and I think on the fan base as well. I can see it; I can’t really speak for it. But, I mean, it’s hard to say who’s more valuable than him in my opinion.”
The football world is finally beginning to give Crosby the respect he has long deserved, and it’s pretty safe to say there won’t be another All-Pro snub coming his way this season. But the Raiders star is just as deserving of some Defensive Player of the Year consideration, and that hasn’t come the way it should have just yet.