Raiders promising defensive talent getting national recognition

The Las Vegas Raiders have some budding stars on their defense, and one is starting to get some national recognition.

Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders
Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

In 2023, the Las Vegas Raiders failed to make the playoffs, but the season was not without its bright spots. The Raiders were able to finish the season strong under interim head coach Antonio Pierce, and their run over the last few games helped earn Pierce the job on a full-time basis in 2024.

One of the bright spots that should thrill Raiders fans going into next season was the play of the defense. Las Vegas finally got strong play on all three levels, and in the end, proved to be one of the more consistent units throughout the second half of the 2023 NFL season.

Going into 2024, many of the big names are back, including one edge rusher who is finally coming into his prime, and starting to get some national recognition.

Raiders Malcolm Koonce getting national recognition

Over at, Jeffrey Chadiha put out a list of five players who will benefit from the early free agency moves around the NFL. The list was led off by Tennessee's Will Levis, Atlanta's Drake London, and Chargers running back Gus Edwards, but the first defensive player mentioned was Malcolm Koonce from the Las Vegas Raiders.

Koonce burst onto the scene last season, becoming a big part of Patrick Graham's defense once Pierce took over as head coach. Koonce had three sacks against the Kansas City Chiefs alone on Christmas Day, serving as an excellent complement to Raiders star Maxx Crosby.

Entering a contract year, the Raiders may want to get Koonce signed up for a new deal, hoping to avoid an issue next offseason. If he can build off what we saw in the final eight games of the 2023 campaign, the Raiders should be set at defensive end for the foreseeable future.