How free agency impacts each Las Vegas Raiders position group
By Matt Holder
Ever since trading Khalil Mack, the Raiders’ defensive line and specifically the pass rush has suffered. The team addressed the issue with a handful of draft picks the last couple of years, but a veteran presence was needed to help flatten the learning curve within the position group. Insert defensive end Carl Nassib and Maliek Collins on the interior.
Nassib signed a fairly lucrative three-year $25 million – $17 million guaranteed – contract, making him one of the highest-paid players on the Silver and Black’s defense. That amount of money would suggest he’s going to start, which means less playing time for last year’s number four overall pick, Clelin Ferrell. The former Buccaneer has accumulated 12.5 sacks the last two seasons, creating a nice one-two punch between him and breakout star, Maxx Crosby.
Collins received a “prove-it” deal in the form of a one-year $6 million contract. He’ll likely walk in as the day one starter at the three-technique spot in Paul Guenther’s defense, which makes for an interesting training camp battle between the four-year veteran and Maurice Hurst. Regardless of who the victor is, Las Vegas will have a solid rotation of defensive tackles throughout the season.
Given these acquisitions, it’d be surprising to see the organization’s decision-makers prioritize the defensive line in the draft. They could opt to go with the best player available, which could definitely be Derrick Brown or Javon Kinlaw, but that hasn’t really been the MO in the Gruden 2.0 era. If I’m an oddsmaker, I’d set the over/under line at pick 90.5 for when the Raiders will select a pass rusher, with the smart money on the over.