The Las Vegas Raiders made a splash with the signing of former Pro Bowl defensive end Yannick Ngakoue in their efforts to revamp the defense.
The Raiders kept it going by securing some quality depth along the defensive line with the signing of Johnathan Hankins and Solomon Thomas. They also made a splash by adding Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson to the mix.
It is safe to say that Ngakoue fielded his fair share of interest given the market for proven pass rushers. However, the Raiders did a tremendous job of providing some extra incentive.
Ngakoue already has some ties in Las Vegas with both Jefferson and new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. He’s admittedly excited to be reuniting with his former teammate via the team’s official website.
“It’s a great thing, it’s a beautiful thing,” Ngakoue said when asked about reuniting with Jefferson. “That’s a guy I got drafted with, we have the same birth date, we have the same goals as far as we wanted to be remembered as men, as football players. It’s divine timing having a guy like that being able to rush with and play football with.”
It is easy to see why Ngakoue is excited about the sense of familiarity in Las Vegas. He and Jefferson played together during their college days at the University of Maryland and are now slated to start a new chapter of their professional careers side by side.
Bradley was the head coach of the Jaguars when Ngakoue was taken in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He is hoping to replicate the success he enjoyed during the 2017 campaign when he registered a career-high 12.0 sacks and six forced fumbles en route to Pro Bowl honors.
Now that Jefferson will be added to the mix, the pair will have a chance to recreate their production from their days as Terrapins. He and Ngakoue combined for 31.5 sacks, 51.5 tackles for loss, and 190 tackles during their three seasons at the University of Maryland.
They will now be expected to take on integral roles in Bradley’s 4-3 scheme heading into the 2021 NFL season. If they have any hope for a potential resurgence on this side of the ball, it will need to begin up front in the pass rush department.
Fortunately, the track record between Ngakoue and Jefferson leaves good reason to be optimistic. The onus will now fall on Bradley to make it come to fruition.