Raiders: 3 reasons this season will be different for Malcolm Koonce
Learning from the Best
The reasons Koonce should see an immediate bump in snaps is both his versatility and depth at positions he’ll likely play. The reason he should look better on the field, though, is who he’ll be playing with.
The first big move this off-season for the Raiders was signing first-team All-Pro Chandler Jones. Ngakoue totaled double-digit sacks last season, which is a great number. It’s also a number Jones has hit every season dating back to 2015, outside of his ’20 campaign where he appeared in just five contests.
Back in 2019, Jones was second-up for the Defensive Player of the Year award. He recorded a career-high 19 sacks, and a league-leading 8 forced fumbles. The former Cardinal also knocked down opposing quarterbacks 26 times, which is a number he replicated last season to go along with his 6 forced fumbles and 10.5 sacks.
Chandler Jones is the cream of the crop when it comes to edge rushers.
Jones isn’t the only All-Pro on the defensive line, though; Recently extended Maxx Crosby led the league in pressures last season, per Pro Football Focus. Crosby made the Pro Bowl where he earned defensive MVP, and was awarded the honor of being a ’21 second-team All-Pro.
These two players make up the starting edge rusher duo for the Las Vegas Raiders. Ultimately, this means no matter which of the two Koonce rotates in for, in all likelihood he’ll be playing opposite of an All-Pro edge rusher.
Crosby is coming off of his best season as a pro, and Chandler Jones is already one of the most respected names in football off the edge. Moving forward, you can bet they’ll be the focus of every pass protection game plan, while an additional pass rusher such as Koonce will be an afterthought. This is something that should prove easy to exploit.
The Raiders traded their first and second-round picks for Davante Adams, but the thought of getting back into those rounds intrigues Zielger.
Although some of this may change after the draft, there’s no reason to believe Koonce won’t see a noticeable spike of time spent on the field. Furthermore, There’s no reason to believe Koonce won’t reap the benefits of playing with two of the league’s premier edge rushers. If there was ever an ideal situation for a young player to be in, this is it; All the cards are there for the second-year defender to thrive.