When Maxx Crosby was drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL draft, the idea of him becoming a solid rotation piece seemed like a win. The best case was that he would be a decent starter. Not many could have predicted he’d wind up becoming one of the league’s elite pass rushers. The Las Vegas Raiders found a diamond in the rough, to say the least. The front office is also aware of this and has made sure he won’t be going anywhere any time soon.
Crosby signed a four-year contract worth $94 million before the 2022 season began. He’s been worth every penny so far and then some. Crosby is by far the best player on the Raiders’ defense. To be honest, that isn’t much of an accomplishment. However, how does the former Eastern Michigan prospect stack up against the rest of the league’s elite defenders?
Maxx Crosby: Winning or personal production?
When it comes to matters of personal accolades like Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) and Most Valuable Player (MVP), the overall team’s success is often taken into account when choosing a winner. This is where Crosby’s overall chances could take a severe hit. As of November 29th, Crosby has the fourth-best odds of winning DPOY, according to Sports Betting Dime. The four candidates above him are Micah Parsons, Nick Bosa, Matthew Judon. Chris Jones is currently right behind him. Unlike the other candidates on this list, Crosby is the only one playing on a team with a losing record.
Although, what would happen if we looked solely at the personal performances of each candidate? All stats referenced further are prior to any Week 13 games being played and sourced from Pro Football Reference. We’ll be taking a look at some specific statistics to evaluate each player. While there are several stats to choose from, these are often the most talked about when evaluating the value of a defensive player. We’ll look at sacks, tackles (solo, total, and for a loss), forced fumbles, percentage of snaps played, total snaps, hurries, and pressures.
How does No. 98 fare in those categories?
So, where does Crosby fall in all of these categories? Well, he’s fourth in sacks, tied for second in forced fumbles, first in solo tackles, total tackles, and tackles for a loss, first in percentage and total snaps played, last in hurries, and tied for third in pressures. The last two are purely subjective and can vary from source to source. Crosby being able to hang with the big boys is why he’s even in consideration for DPOY. However, why isn’t overall value weighed more than production via numbers?
Personal production vs. team production
I mentioned earlier that Crosby was like finding a diamond in the rough. A more appropriate metaphor would be like finding tanzanite in a purse at a thrift shop. Crosby’s value to his team cannot be overstated. The guys in charge recognize this as well, as Crosby has been asked to play an astounding 95 percent of the defensive snaps so far this year. The coaching staff knows they’re better with a tired Crosby than any other option at this time. This, in turn, hurts the odds as of right now but could help if voters delve more deeply into the numbers when it comes time to submit ballots.
As it stands, Crosby has played 694 snaps on defense; the next closest player on the previously mentioned list is Chris Jones at 609. Now why would this hurt Crosby’s odds of winning DPOY? Well, with more opportunity, you should be getting more results. Ranking first in only the tackle categories, while impressive given the fact that Parsons is a linebacker, isn’t enough. Voters would want to see more production, especially in the bigger categories like sacks and pressures. However, when you compare all the candidates’ numbers to what their respective teams have produced, the numbers skew more in favor of Crosby.
Crosby “is” the Raiders’ defense
The Texas native is responsible for 66 percent of the sacks the Raiders have registered. Specifically, fifteen percent of the total tackles, which is outrageous when taking into account that Crosby plays edge, and the next closest player on the list is at 10 percent, and that’s Parsons, a linebacker. To round it all out, however, Crosby is responsible for 43 percent of his team’s recorded tackles for a loss. He ranks first in all those categories when compared to the other candidates. Crosby is a one-man wrecking crew and is left to do a lot on his own. which should in turn add tremendous value to his case.
Long shot odds for Maxx Crosby
As previously stated, Crosby ranks fourth in the odds to win DPOY. He’s sitting at +2500, and the front-runner, Micah Parsons, is at -1200. For starters, in order for The Condor to leapfrog his way to the front, it would require a couple players slowing down or his numbers to grow exponentially and expeditiously. It’s not that it can’t be done. Not at all, but a lot would have to fall his way in order for it to happen.
However, a trophy for personal achievements is probably the last thing on Crosby’s mind at the moment. At the conclusion of Week 12, the Raiders were 4-7 and still out of the playoff picture. Similar to Crosby winning DPOY, a lot will have to go right if they want to reappear in the playoffs this year. Mad Maxx will no doubt be one of the driving forces if this is going to end up happening. It may take a herculean effort, but there might not be another player in the league more suited for the task than Maxx Crosby.
*Top Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images