Las Vegas Raiders: Defense suddenly not just about star Maxx Crosby

The Las Vegas Raiders defense has been the story this season, and on Thursday, their young stars proved to be building blocks for the future.

Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders
Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders / Candice Ward/GettyImages

One of the big question marks surrounding the Las Vegas Raiders going into the 2023 NFL season was just how good the defense could be. Last season, we saw a few standout players, including Maxx Crosby lead the way, but the supporting cast around No. 98 was bad to say the least.

Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham had all eyes on him going into this season, as there were real questions as to whether or not he was the right guy to command the defensive side of the ball. After 14 games, it is clear Graham is one of the better coordinators in the league, and there is real head coach buzz surrouding him coming down the stretch.

The biggest adjustment has been the talent the Raiders have put on the field this season, as they hit home runs in free agency in both linebacker Robert Spillane and safety Marcus Epps. This Raiders defense is loaded on all three levels all of a sudden, and we are seeing some younger players step into major roles in 2023.

If they can continue to grow as a unit, and Graham does not leave for a head coaching job, this Raiders defense could be very good for a very long time.

Raiders defense not just Maxx Crosby anymore

Drafting Tyree Wilson at No. 7 overall looked like a mistake early on in the 2023 NFL season, but he has really come on as of late. He is teaming well with Crosby coming off the edge, as is Malcolm Koonce, who looks like a legitimate NFL playmakers as well at defensive end.

Divine Deablo has stepped up in a big way at linebacker, giving Spillane the kind of help he needs at the second level, and it seems the secondary is loaded with playmakers now as well. Trevon Moehrig has taken a big step forward while learning from Epps, and free agent addition Jack Jones could end up being a CB1 for the Raiders when all is said and done.

Overall, the growth of the defense has been shocking this season, and based on their ages, you would think this is just the tip of the iceberg. We know about all the elite weapons the Raiders have on offense, but now the defense has stepped to the forefront of this team, and it is a Las Vegas team that looks like nothing we have seen in a very long time on that side of the ball.