When the Raiders drafted Clelin Ferrell fourth overall out of Clemson, they got a three-down right defensive end who can set the edge, stop the run and rush the passer equally well. He’s a guy you can stick at RDE and not worry about that position for the next five years at least. But the Raiders’ defensive end/edge rusher group was basically nonexistent by the end of last season, and someone has to man the left end position. Who does Oakland have that can step up into that role?
Arden Key: The tall pass-rusher out of LSU was pressed into major duty last season after the trade of Khalil Mack, and he probably wasn’t quite ready for that. He’s the sort of guy Charles Barkley would refer to as “light in the ass”, meaning he didn’t have the frame or thickness necessary to deal with professional offensive tackles on a consistent basis. Key got plenty of pressures and hurries and QB hits, but only one sack. He’s probably best suited for situational pass-rush duty, and hopefully that’s where he ends up flourishing.
Josh Mauro: Just about every one of Oakland’s initial free agency signings by Mike Mayock were known commodities who you could point to and say, “this guy will help the Raiders.” And then there was Josh Mauro, who everyone pointed to and said, “Who?”
He’s been a rotational end for the past five seasons, and only has three sacks to his name. He excels at stopping the run, but really hasn’t had enough playing time to come into his own. That may change with the Raiders, so hopefully we will see what he can do, if anything. Since the team has issues with both run and pass defense, he can certainly be of some use even if he doesn’t play the whole game.
Benson Mayowa: He served with the Raiders for two years as a rotational end, and then went to Dallas in 2016 where he had his best season as a pro. Mayowa had six sacks and eight TFL that year, and last year found himself in Arizona where he picked up another four sacks. He’s certainly a smart pickup for a team which needs pass rushing off the edge, but can he handle a full-time starting role? The fact that he’s only started 15 games in six seasons shows that no coaching staff has trusted him as a team cornerstone yet.
Alex Barrett: Maybe you don’t remember, but the Raiders signed this guy out of the San Diego Fleet of the AAF after it shut down. He got two sacks in eight games with the Fleet. Who knows what the Raiders have in him, but he’ll probably get plenty of preseason playing time to show off to the coaching staff.
Maxx Crosby: Mad Maxx was clearly drafted to be the left defensive end of the future, but will he get there this season? He has the physique of a frat boy trying to pick up chicks on San Pedro Island on Spring Break, but his talent is through the roof and Raiders brass have compared him to Ted Hendricks. His motor is terrific and he’s got tremendous tenacity, but he’ll have to keep getting bigger and stronger to earn more playing time.
As of now, those are the options. I suspect it will be some combination of all these guys (at least the ones who make the final roster) because they weren’t signed for nothing. Each of them brings their own unique skillset and potential, and some of them have been straight-up overlooked. Now is their chance to shine and show why they deserve the chance to start opposite Clelin Ferrell.
Who will start the most games for Oakland at the left DE spot this season?
This poll is closed