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Most fortunate Raider on defense: Malcolm Koonce

Young pass rusher can grow into his role

Las Vegas Raiders v Los Angeles Rams
Malcolm Koonce
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The focus of the Raiders’ new front seven will inevitably revolve around incumbent star Maxx Crosby and free-agent addition Chandler Jones. Crosby and Jones are an elite pass-rush duo and should be among the very best in the NFL. Both players made the Pro Bowl in 2021. Crosby had eight sacks and led the NFL in pressures in 2021, while Jones had 10.5 sacks last season.

They should be fearsome in 2022 for Las Vegas.

However, let’s not forget about second-year player Malcolm Koonce. The 2021 third-round pick has a chance to really benefit from both Crosby and Jones’ presence, but the move to new Las Vegas’ defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s system.

While it remains to be seen if Koonce is a perfect it for Graham’s scheme, surely Graham has a lot to work with in the 6-2, 250-pound specimen. Koonce had an interesting rookie season after being a third-round pick from Buffalo. He was inactive for most of the season, and played in just five games. Yet, he flashed at times and had two sacks.

The Raiders didn’t have to rush Koonce because of the presence of Crosby and Jones. But with fellow backup pass-rusher Carl Nassib released, Koonce has a chance to develop into a solid rotational pass-rusher and getting him prepared is a big part of Graham’s role. The tema also signed Kyler Fackrell, who had 10.5 sacks in 2018 with Graham as his position coach in Green Bay. He has had eight sacks in three seasons since,

If Koonce can develop into a consistent rotational player in 2022, the Raiders’ arsenal of pass-rushers can be devastating. This is a great situation for Koonce to be in.