Las Vegas Raiders: 5 position battles to watch after the 2020 NFL Draft
By Matt Holder
Strong Side Defensive End
Last year’s draft class was a tale of two different edge defenders for the Raiders. Fourth-round pick Maxx Crosby had an outstanding season, racking up a team-high 10 sacks and earned a nomination for defensive rookie of the year. However, first-round pick Clelin Ferrell was a different story.
Ferrell struggled to make much of an impact as a pass rusher for the majority of the season. Towards the end of the year, he started to turn things around and blossomed into a good run defender for the team. This trend will need to continue for the Clemson product to maintain his starting spot, as the organization brought in some competition at the position this offseason.
Las Vegas signed Carl Nassib to a three-year $25 million contract in free agency, making him the highest-paid defensive lineman on the roster next season. The former Buccaneer has accumulated 12.5 sacks in the last two years and, he’s good against the run with 20 tackles for loss in the same time frame. Given the veteran’s contract and production, he’s clearly a candidate to start next season.
My Prediction: Carl Nassib
Admittedly, this position battle has nothing to do with the draft as both players were on the roster before the event. Nonetheless, it will still be one of the more intriguing training camp battles to keep an eye on.
I think Nassib will ultimately get the nod as the starter because he’s the more well-rounded player of the two. Ferrell will still get a significant amount of playing time as the Raiders frequently rotate their defensive linemen, but he’ll need to significantly improve as a pass rusher to beat out his counterpart.