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Silver Minings: Yannick Ngakoue named biggest X-Factor for Raiders

Las Vegas defensive end was one of their biggest free agent signings this offseason

Divisional Round - Baltimore Ravens v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

If the Raiders are going to reach the playoffs in 2021, they’ll need a lot more from their defense next year. We know what we’re going to get from their offense, but their defense will need to step up if they’re going to take the next step.

Bleacher Report ranked the biggest “X Factor” on every NFL team, and not surprisingly they said it comes on defense for the Raiders. According to them, it’ll be one of their newest additions, Yannick Ngakoue.

The Las Vegas Raiders recorded just 15 takeaways and 21 sacks last season, ranking in the bottom five in the NFL in both categories. The defense is actually quietly loaded with young but unproven talent, especially in the secondary. But to make it all work, you get the feeling the unit’s newest established veteran will have to excel. That veteran is Yannick Ngakoue, who signed a two-year, $26 million contract in March and has the playmaking ability to transform that defensive front.

The 26-year-old has recorded 45.5 sacks and 18 forced fumbles in five professional seasons. Only future Hall of Famer Khalil Mack has forced more fumbles during that span, and he, Mack and Aaron Donald are the only players with at least eight sacks in each of the past five NFL campaigns. That said, it’s a bit of a red flag that he’s on his fourth roster in less than a year. He’s a boom-or-bust player who could make or break the Raiders’ D.

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