After struggling to get after the quarterback in 2018, the Oakland Raiders went out and did something about it, drafting ClelinFerrell and MaxxCrosby.
"Salt and Pepper, baby!", Oakland Raiders rookie defensive end Clelin Ferrell loudly exclaimed on national television after a win over the rival Los Angeles Chargers. There was plenty to celebrate that night after combining with fellow rookie Maxx Crosby for eleven tackles and three sacks, the fearsome rookie tandem made a living in the Chargers backfield.
Fast forward to present day, with the Oakland Raiders now deemed the Las Vegas Raiders, a lot has changed since that fateful night. The playoff hopes have long passed, and the two rookies known as 'Salt and Pepper' will now be preparing for Year 2 in a new city.
You couldn't pick two guys with such different paths. Clelin Ferrell was a two time All-American and national champion coming out of Clemson. Maxx Crosby was a little known prospect out of Eastern Michigan.
Despite all of the accolades, Ferrell was not a popular choice among draft analysts or Raiders fans when he was selected fourth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Due to injury, Ferrell did not fully participate in workouts, and this was a major reason for his slide in many mock drafts, as well as many media pundits and fans being higher on fellow defensive end Josh Allen out of Kentucky. When Ferrell was indeed selected, Raider Nation let him have it, and boos were heard all throughout Nashville that night.
With only four and half sacks through 15 games, it would look on paper as though everyone was right, especially when you consider that Allen finished the season with a staggering 10.5 sacks. However, it's only the first season for Ferrell and after speaking with defensive line coach Brentson Buckner, he was very high on Ferrell, even complimenting his "Tremendous work ethic."
Now let's slide over to Madd Maxx Crosby. The fourth round pick out of Eastern Michigan, whose appearances on HBO's 'Hard Knocks' had led many Raider fans to build a cult following around the incoming rookie. Crosby did what basically not many had expected from a fourth round pick, and that was dominate.
Dominate to the tune of 47 tackles, 10.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles to go along with four pass deflections. The production of Crosby seems even more larger than life when you factor in the previous year, the previous season the Raiders as a team, only accounted for a grand total of 13 sacks.
Madd Maxx almost had this production by himself.
Crosby in Vegas is a ticket seller in itself, and going into Sin City, I expect Crosby to continue his dominant play, in fact, I believe he will improve upon his stellar rookie season. With a high IQ, as well as motor and tremendous strength, there is a lot to love about Madd Maxx. Despite being only a fourth round pick, Crosby has shown that being from a small school does not mean you do not have big talent. 'Salt', is a defensive monster, and Vegas will love his energy and strong play.
Now Raider Nation, I am here to tell you to not get so down on Ferrell. Despite his numbers not being as great as Josh Allen or Crosby for that matter, there is certainly potential in the young defensive end. With another season in the system and a full bill of health, he should return to his more dominant play which was typical of him at Clemson. Also take in to effect that during the second half of the season he did make significant strides in his play.
The 2019 season is behind us. It did not go as well as many had hoped, but now with Salt and Pepper leading the defensive line into a new city, there is plenty to be hopeful for in Vegas. In fact, do not be surprised if they reach the 20 sack mark as a combo in the upcoming season.