3 things the Oakland Raiders defense must do to improve in 2019
Get after the quarterback
Last season the Raiders were extraordinary bad at getting after the quarterback and bringing them down for a sack. They ranked dead last in sacks, with 13 last season. To take a closer look at how inefficient they were in sacking the quarterback, the Raiders only recorded 13 sacks as a team, and were 17 sacks away from the second worst team. They clearly lacked explosiveness off the edge, but project to be much better in 2019.
Although the Raiders were one of the most active teams in free-agency, they weren’t the busiest team in signing edge rushers. They brought in Josh Mauro, Benson Mayowa, and Alex Barrett, who will help provide depth, but none of the bunch are an established sack artist by any means. So, that meant it was all up to the draft in order to help solve their pass rushing issues.
After selecting Ferrell with the fourth overall pick, Gruden clearly has big plans for the former ACC defensive player of the year. Ferrell will need to emerge as a cornerstone edge rusher for the Raiders who can translate his college game film into similar production in the NFL. In college, Ferrell flashed the ability to set the edge and stop the run, meanwhile also being able to pressure the quarterback and come away with an abundance of sacks. In his final year at Clemson, he totaled 55 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 2 passes defended, and 3 forced fumbles.
Mike Mayock and Gruden weren’t done there, as they remained focus on solving their pass rushing difficulties when they picked Maxx Crosby with the 106th overall pick. Crosby may have played his college ball at a small school (Eastern Michigan), but he projects as a prospect who plays with high effort, and uses his hands well fighting off defenders. His sack numbers weren’t eye-popping in college, but as he develops in the NFL he could turn into a quality defensive end with his length and superior football IQ.
Gruden and Mayock finished off the draft taking Quinton Bell with their last pick. Bell is a physical specimen, who has freakish athletic ability. He’s still learning the position, as he’s a converted wide receiver, so his ceiling still remains unknown, but he looks like he could turn into something special if everything clicks. It’s unclear if he’ll make the final 53-man roster or be place on the practice squad, but his potential looks very promising.
The defensive end position still appears to be the Raiders largest hole on the roster, but with a lot of youth, and players who have yet to reach their potential, it may turn into something they can work with.