After adding offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Las Vegas Raiders turn their attention to the defensive side of the ball. They traded up to draft Trevon Moehrig in the second round and took Malcolm Koonce with their first third-round selection.
The Raiders’ defense looks better after the additions they made on Day 2 of the draft. While their safety room will welcome Moehrig, their pass rush got an infusion of talent. A two-year starter at Buffalo, Koonce will become a situational rusher in Sin City. He doesn’t have the ideal size and length to play the position in the NFL. However, he has quick acceleration and knows how to get offensive lines off him.
Heading into the NFL, Koonce is raw and needs to work on his technique. Defensive line coach Rod Marinelli will have to work his magic and get the most out of him. If the New York native can make the transition to the pros, he will be a solid situational pass rusher in the Raiders’ defensive front. He doesn’t have to start right off the bat just make the most of his snaps. Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby are the projected starters, and Koonce would be a solid complementary contributor.
The Raiders are taking the steps to fix the defense
One of the biggest criticisms surrounding the Raiders is the lack of attention their defense receives. Even though they have some enticing weapons on offense, their defensive counterpart has been among the worst in the league in the last 18 years. This year though, things feel a bit different. Las Vegas gave defensive coordinator Paul Guenther the boot after three years or marginal results. Moreover, they brought in Gus Bradley to take his place and are making sure he has enough players to install his scheme.
Signing Ngakoue this offseason and drafting Koonce shows a change of attitude. Last year, the Raiders had a top ten offense. Although the unit can still play better, it was the defense that set them back. While it’s not reasonable to expect Las Vegas to turn into a defensive powerhouse, they are taking steps to turn things around.
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Top Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press