The Las Vegas Raiders added some big names to the defensive line this offseason, and based on the initial 53-man roster, it should be vastly improved.
One area the Las Vegas Raiders were looking to improve this offseason was upfront along the defensive line, and that included getting better on the interior, as well as off the edge. Gus Bradley needs good athletes to run his 4-3 scheme, so the plan was to bring in some veteran talent via free agency, and hope the best men could win the job.
In terms of incumbents, the Raiders had Maxx Crosby, Carl Nassib, and Clelin Ferrell as edge rushers, as well as Johnathan Hankins returning as the nose tackle. After getting rid of guys like Maurice Hurst and Arden Key, it was clear that the Raiders planned to hit the reset button up front, and they definitely got better.
Making the initial 53-man roster were Solomon Thomas, Darius Philon, and Quinton Jefferson at defensive tackle, as well as a former Pro Bowler in Gerald McCoy. That is a much better group of talent than the Raiders went into the 2020 season with, and the addition of Yannick Ngakoue on the edge makes the team a legitimate threat to get after the quarterback.
Raiders keep ten defensive linemen
All told, the Raiders kept ten defensive linemen within the first 53-man roster release, and as a whole, there is a lot to like. Rookie Malcolm Koonce flashed this summer, and will be in the rotation on the edges, while the hope is that they can get enough push across the four-man front to finally start causing some mistakes and getting turnovers.
In 2020, the hype was centered around Maliek Collins coming out of camp, as Jon Gruden said he would be a cornerstone of the defense. In 2021, there is better talent up and down the defensive line, and with Ngakoue in the fold, Ferrell can become a swing player, playing inside or out when need be.
The Las Vegas Raiders have a budding superstar in Maxx Crosby, who has become the vocal leader on the defensive side of the ball.
After only 21 sacks as a team last season, Las Vegas should have a bolstered pass rush, especially if Ngakoue and Crosby gel as much in the regular season as they have in the summer months. They could be one of the more dominant duos in the league, and if the Raiders can get pressure inside, quarterbacks are going to be a lot more uncomfortable than they were a year ago.