PFF gives Raiders’ defensive line high ranking

Finally, the Las Vegas Raiders' best unit is getting some love from PFF.
Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders
Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

It was no secret that adding Christian Wilkins to the Silver and Black was going to be incredibly beneficial to an already strong Raiders defense. The defense was a top-10 unit in the league after Antonio Pierce took over as head coach, and this signing bolstered a position they lacked depth.

Commonly though, the league views offseason moves by the Raiders less favorably, but not this time. The team is now considered to have one of the best defensive lines in the league according to Pro Football Focus' latest.

Raiders Rank 9th

Out of every team in the NFL, PFF's Sam Monson listed the Raiders as having the ninth-best defensive line.

“The Raiders are another team that found its superstar a while ago and has been slow to build around them," Monson wrote. "Maxx Crosby has been one of the best in football and now has help around him for the first time.  was the team’s big offseason addition (literally and figuratively), while edge rusher was so impressive last season that he may insure against if he doesn’t develop in year two. 

This is the most formidable Raiders defensive line in a while.”

Maxx Crosby has had some help before, but never consistently. Yannick Ngakoue was great for a year in 2021 and Malcolm Koonce came on strong in the latter half of the season last year, but in 2024, it feels like Crosby will have at least two surefire players next to him that can reliably get to the quarterback as well.

Koonce recorded 8.0 sacks in the second half of 2023 and Wilkins recorded 9.0 in his campaign last year, not to mention veteran Adam Butler is back and Tyree Wilson should have a big offseason. Butler got to the quarterback five times last year and though Wilson only recorded 3.5 sacks in his rookie year, he should make strides in 2024 after getting a full offseason, unlike last year. 

I have high hopes for this group and I am pleasantly surprised to see them in the top 10; it always feels good to get some respect. I do believe that if Wilson develops in Year 2 like Khalil Mack did, the Raiders will have the best defensive line in the entire league. 

Where they rank

Based on these rankings, the Raiders have the fifth-best defensive line in the AFC, including the best in the AFC West. It is hard to argue against the Jets having the best defensive line room in the league, and both the Browns (fifth) and Steelers (eighth) have legitimate arguments to be ahead of the Raiders right now as well.

However, the Colts (seventh) being ranked ahead of us is a little confusing. DeForest Buckner is considered to be the best player on the defensive line for Indianapolis by PFF but he only recorded 8.0 sacks and 45 solo tackles last season. What the Colts do have is four players who recorded over 8.0 sacks, but none that recorded 10. With the star power on the Raiders and the attention that offensive lines must pay to them, I could see the group far outperforming the Colts unit. 

Behind the Raiders in the AFC West are the Chiefs (14th), Chargers (22nd) and Broncos (31st). The Raiders have the best unit in the division by a significant margin and should wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks.