The Las Vegas Raiders signed Yannick Ngakoue to a lucrative contract this offseason for him to be their best pass rusher.
But many in the Raider Nation don’t think the veteran, who has 45.5 sacks in five NFL seasons, will lead the team in sacks in 2021.
In our poll asking which Las Vegas player will lead the team in sacks this season, Maxx Crosby — the Raiders’ third-season defensive end — beat out Ngakoue. Crosby received 49 percent of the vote, while Ngakoue received 43 percent of the vote. Defensive ends Clelin Ferrell, Carl Nassib and rookie Malcolm Koonce predictably lagged behind.
It wasn’t so predictable that that Crosby would win, however. He is a fine player, but he hasn’t been as established as Ngakoue when it comes to getting to the quarterback. Don’t get me wrong, Crosby can bring the heat. He has 17 sacks in two NFL seasons.
Crosby made more of an impact as a rookie. Last season, Crosby, who played despite injuries that ended up needing surgeries, wore down in 2020.
Having Ngakoue on the field should help him — and count his new teammate as someone who believes Crosby will shine in 2201. At the team’s minicamp last month, Ngakoue said he thinks he and Crosby can be the best pass rush tandem in the NFL this season.
“I think that Maxx and myself are the best duo that’s going to come hit the scene,” Ngakoue told media members on Wednesday. “I’m already putting that out there ... Maxx is a hard worker. He’s a guy that’s putting in the work. Literally, I’m lifting weights right now and Maxx is in there doing things to get better. It’s the dedication and commitment. I can play all day with a guy like that.”
If Crosby can get 12 sacks and Ngakoue — who hasn’t made had a double-digit sack season since he registered 12 sacks in 2017 — can get 10 sacks, this defense will be in much better shape than last season.
I hope that our fan poll is right on the money.