Starters: Clelin Ferrell, Josh Mauro
Backups: Benson Mayowa, Arden Key, Maxx Crosby, James Cowser, Quinton Bell, Alex Barrett
After a season in which the pass rush was historically bad, the first chance the Raiders had to fix it was free agency. A week in and the Raiders had signed a total of zero edge rushers.
A few days into free agency, they added former Giants defensive end Josh Mauro. The thing is about Mauro...he has 3.0 career sacks...in five NFL seasons. He isn’t rushing anything. He’s a run stopping defensive end and that’s pretty much it.
The Raiders were midway through April and were no closer to having a pass rush than when they ended the season. They had Arden Key and his one sack from the edge rusher spot. And that was it.
The final two weeks of April saw them add the largest portion of what figures to be their hopes at edge rusher. First they signed Benson Mayowa whose 4.0 sacks last season in Arizona would have led the Raiders. Then come the draft, they used three picks on edge rushers including Clelin Ferrell with the 4th overall pick.
While Ferrell and Mauro currently look to be the starters, Key will be looked to as a third down rusher which is what the team drafted him to be last year. He has put on some weight, which one hopes is mostly muscle. He says he is up to 260 after playing around 240 much of last season. The hope is that with his added strength and a year under his belt he will be able to finish off a few more of those 7 or 8 missed sacks from his rookie season.
Competing with Key for that third down edge rusher job will be fourth round rookie Maxx Crosby. The others will have a hard time breaking through for a roster spot.
Adding a proven pass rusher was a must for a team with a complete lack of pass rush last season. And they completely neglected it. Edge rushers flew off the board one by one and the Raiders seemed to sit back and watch. Building through the draft is a great strategy in theory and in general. But it’s a luxury to do so and it often takes time to feel the impact of those draft picks. Remember even Khalil Mack had just 4.0 sacks as a rookie. So, now their edge rush unit will be made up of two rookies and three players who had a combined 6.0 sacks between them last season. Assuredly there will be some improvement, but that’s not saying a whole lot.
What condition do you think the edge rusher position is in for the Raiders?
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