The Raiders franchise went into the 2019 NFL Draft with a gaping hole in the pass rush, this after Jon Gruden traded away Khalil Mack prior to the 2018 NFL season. Mack was a generational talent for the Silver and Black, and without him, the Raiders had the worst pass rush in the NFL, led by an old Bruce Irvin.
Luckily for the Raiders, the 2019 NFL Draft class was loaded with edge rushers, including Ohio State star Nick Bosa, who was the No. 2 overall pick that year. The Raiders, picking at No. 4 overall, could have selected Kentucky star Josh Allen, widely considered the second-best edge rusher in the class, and a perfect fit for the Raiders defense.
However, the combination of Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock decided to pass on Allen, choosing Clelin Ferrell from Clemson instead. Ferrell had an ousttanding career at Clemson, winning two national titles, but he was not seen as a top-5 talent, and most felt he was a fringe first-round guy.
Regardless, he was the pick, and four years later, he is not even on the Raiders roster anymore. Still, the draft was not a loss when it came to the position group, as the Raiders struck gold on Day 3, selecting Eastern Michigan star Maxx Crosby at pick No. 106 overall.
Since that day, Crosby has become one of the best young defensive players in the game.
Raiders star's impact goes well beyond the stat sheet
Crosby burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2019, notching ten sacks, including three in one game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Since then, he has added 27.5 more sacks to his total, including a career-high 12.5 last season, a year where he had very little help in the pass rush.
In fact, Crosby is mostly double-teamed on every play, and if you watch the Raiders play on a consistent basis, you can see him getting held more often than not. Sure, his 37.5 sacks across four seasons is a solid number, but it only tells part of the story in terms of what Crosby means to the Raiders defense, and the team as a whole.
An inspirational story both on and off the field, Crosby has become a leader for the Silver and Black, and a real menace on Gameday. He is someone that all opponents have to gameplan for, and even when they do, his presence is felt on every play he is on the field, whether or not he makes a tackle, or gets a sack.
This season, Crosby will have added help in the pass rush, as the expectation is Chandler Jones will be better, and rookie Tyree Wilson makes an impact in Year 1. That could lead to more sacks for Crosby, but even if he does not match what he did on the stat sheet last season, that does not mean he did not bring the same kind of impact every play.