As the 106th player selected in the 2019 NFL Draft, Maxx Crosby has been increasing his impact for the Raiders steadily this season. The fourth-round pick came into the NFL viewed as a developmental project; high upside, with a need to add strength.
Crosby has quickly dispelled the strength narrative, showing he can play with the physicality required to make an impact in the big leagues. Let’s take a look at how Crosby has developed through 8 weeks.
Week 1 against Denver, Crosby played 23 defensive, snaps subbing in at either end spot. He didn’t make much of an impact rushing the passer, but he did prove that teams couldn’t just run the ball right at him with this run stop on an outside zone. Crosby, playing right end, extends his arms and locks the tackle out before disengaging and getting in on the play.
In Week 2 against the Chiefs, Crosby still showed room for improvement as a pass rusher. Playing on the right side, he gets punched and is immediately pushed backwards, failing to generate any pressure. Strength can help here, but his technique is also lacking.
Week 4 against the Colts was Crosby’s coming out party as an NFL player. He affected the passer, coming up with two passes knocked down and one hurry. Crosby was used as an inside rusher for much of the game and used his height and long arms to disrupt the throwing lanes of Jacoby Brissett.
He also showed the hustle that made him so fun to watch in college. Playing left end, Crosby reads out of his rush and gets after the screen pass up the numbers. On the same exact play that broke his hand during pre-season, he doesn’t hesitate to punch the ball out when he sees an opportunity.
Week 5 saw Crosby really start to put his pass rush together. He does a better job of landing the initial punch against the Bears left tackle. Crosby converts his bull rush into an inside move and makes a true, NFL-caliber sack.
Week 6 continued to show development his development. He wins on another inside move, but this time it comes early in the play. When Crosby gets doubled, he follows it up with a spin move to get free and sack the elusive Aaron Rodgers. This is Crosby’s best pass rush rep as a pro. A true highlight-reel play.
Last week against the Texans marked another impactful game for Crosby. The rookie played a complete game as a defensive end, making plays against the run and contributing pressure on the passer. Crosby had four run stops in this game, tied for the most of any Raider in a single game this season. He also punched the ball out late in the game.
While he has the benefit of focusing on a single position, it can’t be argued that the rookie DE is making a bigger impact than fellow rookie Clelin Ferrell. Crosby has more run stops, pressures, and sacks than Ferrell.
As an every down player, Crosby can make plays in multiple ways. His run defense is very exciting, as this was an area of his game that was unfinished coming into the NFL. For as good Crosby is right now against the run, his true potential lies in his pass rush ability.
Crosby played in over 88% of the defensive snaps last week after Josh Mauro left with a groin injury. He has become a starter and a building block for this defense. Look for him to make an even bigger impact over the latter half of the season.