Las Vegas Raiders - Aaaron Rodgers, Dalvin Cook, Davante Adams, ESPN

ESPN Ranking: Execs, Coaches, & Scouts Unveil Views on Josh Jacobs, Maxx Crosby

Who doesn’t love rankings? As the Las Vegas Raiders’ 2023 season nears, it’s the time of the calendar year when various previews emerge. ESPN senior NFL reporter Jeremy Fowler spoke with executives, coaches, and scouts to assemble a list of the best players at every position. 

While the Raiders and Josh Jacobs contract extension saga continues, it doesn’t take away from many believing the 25-year-old is one of the best at his position. Although Jacobs’ position might be a surprise, some might raise an eyebrow when they see where Maxx Crosby is slotted.

Raiders’ Josh Jacobs makes the jump to top running back…

Jacobs made a significant jump from last year, which shows the type of production he had last season. The Alabama product went from an honorable mention before the 2022 NFL season to now being a top-three running back

When polling executives, coaches, and scouts, there highest ranking that Jacobs received by some is being the No. 1 running back. Still, some aren’t sold on his production and had him at No. 8. 

“[The Raiders] used him like they should have prior,” an NFL personnel exec told Fowler. “I don’t think they were using him properly. They gave him the ball often so he could get to the second level and use his twitch and make-you-miss ability.”

Two running backs are ahead of Jacobs in the ranking: Christian McCaffrey and Nick Chubb. Meanwhile, the Raiders running back is ahead of some notable names like Saquon Barkley and Derrick Henry. As a result, it should give the Silver and Black an understanding of what type of star they have on their hands. 

After the Raiders didn’t pick up his fifth-year option last year, Jacobs played with a chip on his shoulder, leading the NFL in rushing yards (1,653) on 340 carries. Las Vegas has to decide whether they want to pay and keep one of the top running backs long-term or let him leave. 

Maxx Crosby takes a step back in the top edge rusher ranking

The Raiders’ pass rusher slipped in ESPN’s ranking from the previous year. The 25-year-old held the No. 5 spot heading into last season, but in 2023, Crosby falls one position and is in the No. 6 position. 

Crosby has several players ahead of him in this year’s ranking, but one name pushes Crosby outside the top five. Haason Reddick went from unranked in 2022’s edition to now leaping over Crosby.

The other names ahead of Crosby might not be a surprise or at least up for debate. Ahead of the Eastern Michigan product are T.J. Watt, Micah Parsons, Myles Garrett, and Nick Bosa. Executives, coaches, and scouts had Crosby as high as No. 5 to as low as No. 8, leading to his No. 6 ranking. 

“His effort and intensity on a daily basis, I’ve never seen it matched,” a veteran NFL defensive coach told Fowler. “He just cares so much.”

Lists like these done by ESPN should light a fire underneath him as he should strive to lead the NFL in sacks. There’s no doubt that Crosby would likely want to prove that he’s more than just a top-six pass rusher. The Las Vegas star could play with a chip on his should in 2023, which should worry the opposition. 

Crosby has already tattooed his body, pushing him to be legendary. Aside from team success, he likely wants to improve on his 12.5 sacks from last season and attempt to lead the NFL in that statistic. If Crosby can be one of the leaders in sacks, expect his ranking to go up next year.

*Top Photo: AP Photo/AJ Mast

Josh Jacobs and the Raiders do not reach long-term agreement

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