Raiders DE Malcolm Koonce

Las Vegas Raiders EDGE Malcolm Koonce Ready To Build On Stellar 2023 Campaign

When the Las Vegas Raiders used their seventh-overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to select Tyree Wilson, the plan was to form a prominent three-man pass-rushing rotation. Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones would earn the nod as “starters” while Wilson rotated in frequently each drive. And that’s exactly how it played out this past season – except, instead of Chandler Jones lining up opposite Maxx Crosby, it was third-year Raider Malcolm Koonce.

In his 500 defensive snaps this past season, Koonce made it increasingly more impossible to not keep him on the field. The 26-year-old – who turned 26 today – totaled 8 sacks on 52 pressures. He beat his assignment on 14.2% of pass rushes and tallied a pressure on 9.1% of snaps (highest on team among all defensive linemen).

Against the run, Koonce’s stop percentage of 11.2% stood higher than any other Raider’s defensive lineman. His one penalty was the least amount of penalties by an edge rusher on the team as well.

By all accounts, it was a year to remember for Malcolm Koonce. And he’s ready to build on his ’23 success while playing on the final year of his contract.

Malcolm Koonce is ready for a monster 2024 campaign

Not too many people were sure of Koonce coming out of college, but there were two: Now-former Raiders general manager Mike Mayock who drafted the Buffalo alum, and Koonce himself.

Bleacher Report had a sixth-round grade on Koonce, for example. Pro Football Focus slated him as the 258th-best prospect in the ’21 draft class.

Now, after a stellar ’23 season, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a single soul who doubts Koonce’s abilities.

On Tuesday, the Raiders’ up-and-coming star took to the media to talk about how he’s getting ready for his ’24 campaign.

“I’m watching guys across the league and seeing guys similar to my stature, how they get sacks and how they play the game. And also being out here, really focusing and being present on what I’m doing,” Koonce noted.

“[I’m] focusing on trying to hit the ground running, not losing a step. I know what the baseline is now.”

But Koonce is doing more this offseason than just getting himself ready; he’s also making sure the younger players have the guidance they need to succeed.

The former third-rounder expanded on his mentorship role.

“I just think that I’ve been here for a while, so.. it just feels like it was yesterday that I was one of those guys just coming into the building. So I understand certain things that I was missing at the beginning that maybe I can help them with.”

Koonce has developed into a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks on the field. In the locker room, he’s developing into a leader of men. There’s a well-deserved contract waiting for him from an NFL team this summer; hopefully, it’s from the Raiders.

*Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal

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