Las Vegas Raiders DE Maxx Crosby

PFF Piles On The Raiders More, Though Maxx Crosby Is A Saving Grace

Pro Football Focus handed the Las Vegas Raiders more bottom-tier rankings—color me shocked. Perhaps Maxx Crosby can’t save the team’s entire defense by himself after all.

The media outlet recently listed the best offensive and defensive lines heading into the new campaign. The Las Vegas Raiders’ linebacker and secondary groups didn’t receive a favorable ranking being at the bottom of their respective list. However, the team’s offensive and defensive lines weren’t bottom-five, albeit the units could improve their PFF rankings.

Is the Raiders’ offensive line middle of the pack?

Let’s begin with the good. Vegas’ offensive line is just outside the bottom ten as PFF ranked the group at No. 19. Ultimately, the unit is closer to average than being the worst in the NFL, per the outlet.

While No. 19 isn’t too bad compared to both the linebacker and secondary groups, the offensive line unit did drop nine spots from last year. Such a change might create some cause for concern.

PFF emphasizes that while the interior trio of the offensive line remains intact, they have doubts – a potential inability to replicate last season’s success, among them. In fact, PFF does not foresee the unit performing above average.

The interior trio of the offensive line, which had an average PFF grade of 56.7 in 2022, are all returning for this season; undoubtedly a positive aspect for Vegas. Continuity and chemistry among linemen are crucial for a successful offensive line.

Still, PFF’s analysis suggests that despite this advantage, the Raiders may struggle to reach the same level of success they enjoyed last season. Nonetheless, amidst the concerns, there is some positive recognition for the Raiders’ big men who will help keep Jimmy Garoppolo clean.

PFF highlights Kolton Miller as the standout player within the group. Miller, the team’s left tackle, is recognized by the outlet as the best player among the offensive linemen. Las Vegas’ franchise tackle finished 2022 with an overall grade of 84.1.

Maxx Crosby, and then not a whole lot?

There’s no denying Maxx Crosby is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. However, there’s not much behind him, and PFF is likely aware – which is [likely] why the Raiders’ defensive line came in at No. 24 via the outlet’s rankings.

Crosby has proven himself as a talented player; there’s no argument there. Unfortunately, the rest of the defensive line has yet to be able to come close to his production level. None of the other defensive linemen on the Raiders’ roster managed to rank in the top-64 at their position in 2022.

Vegas has hopes of topping their 27 sack-total from one season ago. Without the ability to clean up pass-rushes in 2022, the Silver and Black finished bottom-three in total sacks, with only the Atlanta Falcons (21) and Chicago Bears (20) having fewer than the Raiders.

One factor that could have impacted this ranking is the selection of Tyree Wilson, who was chosen No. 7 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft. However, it should be noted that Wilson will be a rookie coming off a season-ending foot injury in 2022.

While Wilson’s potential and draft position suggest promise, it remains to be seen how quickly he can adjust to the NFL. More directly, how long will it take for the rookie to contribute to the team’s sack total?

Aside from Wilson, veteran pass rusher Chandler Jones will eye a bounce-back season after only producing 4.5 sacks in 2022. The team originally signed Jones to support Crosby and form a fearsome duo. As Raider Nation is aware, that didn’t materialize. In response, he will attempt to show that this upcoming season will be different for him.

Is the Raiders’ rush defensive line average?

Although the pass rush outside of Maxx Crosby is suspect – at best – it doesn’t tell the whole story. That’s especially true in terms of stopping the run. Vegas was closer to average, finishing 19-of-32 in rushing yards allowed with 2,087. Nonetheless, in a passing league, getting to the quarterback is essential; the team needs to improve in this category.

*Top Photo: Getty Images Pool

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