The Las Vegas Raiders added a much-needed boost to their pass rush with the addition of defensive end Yannick Ngakoue in free agency this offseason.
The move to revamp this group came as no surprise following a poor outing in 2020. Despite the early promise from defensive ends Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell as rookies, the Raiders boasted one of the worst pass rushes in the league with just 21 sacks last season.
Crosby was understandably giddy about the addition of Ngakoue and wasted no time getting acquainted with him prior to his arrival for offseason workouts. He is admittedly excited to learn from the veteran and help get this group back on track.
It appears Ngakoue has since doubled down on their pairing as one of the best pass rush duos in the league.
“I think that Maxx and myself are the best duo that’s going to come hit the scene,” Ngakoue said. “I’m already putting that out there. I feel like the NFL has kind of shied away from that and that’s cool, but Maxx is a hard worker. He’s a guy that’s putting in the work. Literally, I’m lifting weights right now and Maxx is in there doing things to get better. It’s the dedication and commitment. I can play all day with a guy like that.”
Although this may be a rather bold statement coming from Ngakoue, it is indicative of the confidence that is brewing in the locker room. Fortunately, the talent between these two certainly is intriguing leading up to the 2021 NFL season.
Crosby proved to be quite the steal after the former fourth-round pick put up double-digit sacks as a rookie. While the defense may have struggled as a whole last year, the 23-year-old has done what he can to set the pace with 17.0 sacks through his first two seasons.
Regardless, the Raiders made it clear that they were looking for more consistency up front, and Ngakoue fits that billing. The former Pro Bowler has registered at least 8.0 sacks in each of his five seasons in the NFL.
Between Ngakoue’s experience and Crosby’s potential, Las Vegas has good reason to be excited about the new tandem. But, bold predictions aside, it is encouraging to see a strong sense of mutual respect between key players at the same position.
It will be interesting to see if Ferrell can find a way to get added to the mix as a potential trio this season.