Are the Las Vegas Raiders already set with their defensive line ahead of this weekend’s NFL draft? General manager Mike Mayock has certainly alluded to it recently.
Several mock drafts had the Raiders taking Alabama’s Christian Barmore with the 17th overall selection. While that scenario was popular in the early stages of the offseason, it has since dissipated. This is mostly attributed to the signings that Las Vegas completed, most notably Yannick Ngakoue, Solomon Thomas, and Quinton Jefferson. In addition to the free-agent acquisitions, the team retained Johnathan Hankins and David Irving.
While the Raiders could still draft a pass rusher this weekend, it appears that the unit as it stands is solid according to Mayock. Let’s not forget the team still has Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell, both of them looking to prove something in 2021. Recently, Mayock expressed optimism ahead of the draft, speaking highly of new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.
“Whether it’s the players, the fellow coaches, the scouts, he [Bradley] is all-in. He’s trying to help you make your job better.”
The Raiders did a fine job retooling the D-line…
This bodes well as the team looks to bounce back after a less than stellar defensive performance in 2020. Reshaping the defensive line was clearly a priority. The organization went to work, quickly adding versatile and talented players while opting to part with ones they felt had peaked. In fact, Mayock made it clear he believes this unit has the most talent since his arrival. Thomas is a player whose signing might’ve not received national praise but Mayock believes still has upside as a former first-round choice.
“Solomon Thomas is a former first-round pick, still young. We’re excited about him. We’re excited about each of those guys for different reasons.”
Nevertheless, Mayock knows that Nagkoue’s arrival could be game-changing for the Raiders. He could very well end up being the reason that this retooled defensive line leads the way in 2021. More than anything, the general manager believes Ngakoue will help Crosby and Ferrell reach another level due to the attention he will command. Given all the critical needs that the Raiders still have, perhaps the defensive line isn’t one, at least for this draft.
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