Las Vegas Raiders: David Irving a break out candidate in 2021
By BD Williams
The Las Vegas Raiders took a chance on David Irving in 2020, and that chance could pay big dividends in the upcoming season.
The Las Vegas Raiders quietly re-signed defensive linemen David Irving early this off-season, as they continue to see what they can get out of him. Irving joined the Silver and Black midway through the 2020 season after serving a year suspension for habitually violating the NFL’s marijuana policy, but was once a pretty solid player.
Irving re-joined Rod Marinelli, who was his defensive coordinator and position coach while the two were in Dallas together, and it took Irving sometime before he was in good enough football shape for the conditioning staff to sign-off on him playing in a live game.
After logging only four tackles on 40 snaps for Las Vegas in 2020, why would the front office bring him back? Let’s take a look at the prototype interior rusher for Gus Bradley’s scheme and how it could unlock Irving’s potential.
Irving perfect for the Raiders new defense
Gus Bradley’s defenses in Jacksonville got off to a tough start in his first few years. One of their issues was translating his famous legion of boom Seattle defense to the personnel he had in Jacksonville. In 2016, Jaguars made 6’5 295lb interior rusher Malik Jackson a very rich man with a 6 year/$86 million dollar contract, and he immediately made an impact, racking up a then-career-high 6.5 sacks in Bradley’s scheme.
When Bradley took the Chargers defensive coordinator position he put together strong defenses despite not much statistical production from the defensive tackle position. Bradley shifted to favoring taller lighter interior rushers selecting Isaac Rochelle 6’4 280 (5 sacks in 2018) and Jerry Tillery 6’6 290 (3 sacks in 2020) both from Notre Dame.
Now that we see Bradley has a type, it’s no wonder their first move this off-season to bring back Irving (6’7 295) on a one-year deal.
Now, let’s look at Irving who despite being in the NFL since 2015 has bizarrely logged fewer snaps (1118) than almost every player currently rostered save for Clelin Ferrell (1109). But if we look at the impact he’s made during that sample size, we’ll see a player who on a snap by snap basis has out-produced every defensive lineman currently under contract for the Raiders by a wide margin.
Irving’s 12.5 Sacks, 17 TFLs, 5 FF, 12 passes defended, and 37 run stops (per PFF), is good for an impact play ever 7.47% of his snaps. Yannick Ngakoue is almost a full percentage point lower (6.57%) despite Ngakoue playing almost twice as many snaps over the last 3 years as Irving has played in his entire career.
If Irving continues to log impact plays at that rate while playing a full load of say ~500 snaps in 2021 his stats would look like this: 5.5 sacks, 8TFLs, 2 FF, 5 PD, and 16 run stops.
A year like that would be the best production of any interior defensive lineman for the Raiders since Denico Autry in 2017. Of course, Autry got some help from Khalil Mack but certainly, we can expect Irving to draw some 1v1s with the likes of Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby rushing off the edge.