It’s no secret the Las Vegas Raiders grabbed an absolute steal when they selected Maxx Crosby in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL draft. Crosby has had an excellent first three years in the league, and during this season, he’s cemented himself as one of the best pass rushers in the league.
Crosby is having the best season as a pass rusher since Khalil Mack sported the Silver and Black, no doubt about that. However, the Raiders have seen some exceptional pass rushers before. Let’s take a look at where Mad Maxx ranks among them at this juncture of his young career.
For comparison, here are Crosby’s stats in 2021.
- Sacks: 5
- QB Hits: 20
- TFL: 5
Those are some pretty impressive numbers, and the 20 hits show Crosby has been a tad late getting to the quarterback or been held without a penalty call or both.
Howie is arguably the best defensive lineman to ever put on a Raiders uniform and, he’s got the stats to back it up.
While Long never had more than 13 sacks in a season, he also played in an era where the lack of passing gave him far fewer opportunities for sacks than there is now. Unfortunately, many of the stats kept today were not around when Long played, so the only stats we have to base his game off of are his number of sacks.
In 1983, 1984, and 1985 Long recorded 13, 12, and 10 sacks. Those are impressive considering both the consistency of those numbers and the run-heavy time Howie played on. They also are a bit more impressive than Crosby’s numbers. Crosby reached ten sacks his rookie year and is on pace to hit that again, but he hasn’t shown the ability to hit 12 or 13 yet. Crosby still has plenty of years left, and he may very well see his name next to Howie’s in the future. At this point, he hasn’t reached it.
While Howie is often seen as the best pass rusher in Raiders history, Townsend is up there alongside Long. Greg also played in an era that ran the ball far more often. So in retrospect, it’s important to realize if he played in the current NFL, these numbers might be far higher.
Townsend reached at least ten sacks in seven different years, with a career-high of 13 coming in 1990, while also reaching 12.5 in the year before. Townsend also forced 15 fumbles in his career, although Crosby has already forced four in just two and a half years, making it a reasonable expectation that he can reach that milestone.
Crosby’s 2021 season isn’t up to the standard of any of Townsend’s best years, but looking at his career stats compared to Greg’s, it’s hard not to get excited. Crosby does seem capable of reaching and maybe even surpassing some of Greg’s numbers.
We all knew this was coming. Luckily, Mack played in an era that kept far more stats. Let’s compare Mack’s best season in 2015 to Crosby’s 2021 season.
- Sacks: Mack: 15, Crosby: On pace for 10, currently 5.
- QB hits: Mack: 24, Crosby: On pace for 26, currently 13
- TFL: Mack: 23, Crosby: On pace for 10, currently 5.
Crosby is leading in the QB hits, but Mack leads pretty handily in the other two. After looking at these, it’s fair to say Mack’s best year in 2015 was better than Crosby’s 2021 campaign. However, in many other years of Mack’s career, his stats look very similar to what Crosby is on pace for this year. Crosby is close, but he hasn’t yet reached the echelon of Mack.
It’s unfair to expect Crosby to compete with these three players, but it is encouraging that he’s pretty close in most of these stats. There’s one thing we can say; Crosby has been a tremendous player, and if he can prolong this production across his career, he’ll find his name up there with the Raiders’ greats.
*Top Photo: Jason O. Watson/Getty Images