The Las Vegas Raiders brought Yannick Ngakoue in to help with the pass rush, but they need more than just sacks out of him in 2021.
The biggest free-agent signing on defense for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2021 was Yannick Ngakoue, a talented edge rusher who split time between the Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings in 2020. Coming out of college, Ngakoue was a third-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, whose head coach back then, Gus Bradley, is now the Raiders defensive coordinator.
As Ngakoue heads to Las Vegas to help a pass rush that mustered only 21 sacks last season, he needs to be overly productive on the field. He is joining a position group with young, but talented players, including Maxx Crosby, Clelin Ferrell, and 2021 draft pick Malcolm Koonce.
For Ngakoue, he will have to be a mentor to these young players, and I believe he is up for the challenge.
Raiders need Ngakoue to emerge as a leader in 2021
Since donning the Silver and Black, Ngakoue has not been shy either, calling him and Maxx Crosby the best pass-rushing duo in the NFL. Those are certainly strong words, but it was great to see a player come to the Raiders and be vocal about his expectations for the team, taking on a leadership role.
Bradley and this defense are going to need more of that from Ngakoue, as recent defensive free agency signings have not made an impact positively in Year 1. Just look at Cory Littleton last season, who came over from Los Angeles and was supposed to be a missing piece of the puzzle for the Silver and Black.
He struggled mightily under Paul Guenther but should improve in Bradley’s scheme, and the hope is that he becomes a leader on that side of the ball as well.
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There is no reason why Ngakoue cannot come into this organization and become a leader, taking a lot of these younger players under his wing. He is a proven player at the NFL level, and in a position group that is improved in 2021, he has to emerge as not only a key statistical player, but the voice in the locker room as well.
Raiders are looking for leaders on that side of the ball, and Ngakoue has the talent, and personality to be just that.