Finding gems in the draft is a sign of good fortune for NFL teams, and the Las Vegas Raiders found one in Maxx Crosby. Here’s a review of the strong season of the defensive standout.
The elite franchises in the NFL separate themselves by seizing opportunities that others fail to capitalize on. The draft is an excellent example of this: in the first round, you either hit the mark in drafting an immediate franchise impact player, or you don’t. But in the middle of the draft, the third, fourth, and fifth rounders? That is where you can find hidden gems that can change the fortunes of your team.
The Raiders drafted Maxx Crosby with the 106th pick in the fourth round of the 2019 draft. The lack of a viable pass rush, and the lack of an elite pass rusher, was an evident Achilles heel of the Raiders since the trade of Khalil Mack. When Crosby heard his name called, the Raiders likely hoped they were getting added depth to the position at best.
By the end of the 2019 season, they ended up getting a potential franchise cornerstone of the defense for years to come.
Maxx Crosby didn’t notch his first regular-season start until Week 5 against the Chicago Bears, but he firmly planted himself as a contender for Defensive Rookie of the Year by season’s end (and Raiders fans should not be alone in thinking this). As a matter of fact, he very much outplayed a former Raider himself.
Crosby recorded 10 sacks, 35 solo tackles, and four forced fumbles in his rookie season, despite starting in only 10 of those games). The presumed Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa had just nine sacks, 32 solo tackles and one forced fumble for the San Francisco 49ers.
Football may be a team sport, but awards tend to be given for individual accomplishments. And given the statistical production Crosby put together, without the supporting cast that Bosa had, you wouldn’t be far fetched to say the Raiders rookie has a compelling case to make for some hardware.
For reference, Khalil Mack had just 8.5 sacks for the Chicago Bears this season, even with a better supporting cast on defense compared to the Raiders. Do the stats argue that Crosby is superior to Mack or Bosa? No, but it makes what he accomplished in his rookie year all the more impressive.
The Raiders should be thrilled by the return they got from their fourth-round pick, and if getting snubbed of proper recognition is going to motivate Maxx Crosby more, then one can’t wait to see what’s in store next season. Raiders fans should be excited, and the rest of the league should be put on notice.