The Las Vegas Raiders struggled quite a bit on defense in 2020.
Despite devoting draft capital and cap space to improve that side of the ball, they have continued to be a liability.
Las Vegas gave up 478 points last season and allowed opposing teams to score on 50.3% of their offensive drives.
These statistics ranked as the third-worst and the worst mark, respectively.
The Raiders’ inability to stall opposing offenses came in large part due to their underwhelming pass rush.
They were especially woeful at sacking the quarterback, as their 21 sacks ranked 29th overall.
It was not an isolated event either, as they have accumulated just 66 sacks over the last three years combined, by far the worst mark in the league.
Unfortunately, the free-agent pool for pass rushers was not exactly flush with talent, as teams rarely ever let players in their prime reach the open market.
However, the Raiders still managed to address one of their most pressing issues by signing Yannick Ngakoue to a two-year, $26 million contract.
Some additional notes on Yannick Ngakoue's 2y/ $26M deal with the #Raiders:
Ngakoue's contract becomes fully guaranteed 3rd day of the new league year in 2022.
$21M of his 26M in guarantees is fully guaranteed at signing.
Ngakoue has a no-franchise tag clause included too.
— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) March 16, 2021
Here is what the newest member of the Silver and Black brings to the table.
Getting after the quarterback is a crucial part of any defense, and it just so happens to be the calling card of Ngakoue.
— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) March 15, 2021
In his five-year career, he has never finished with less than eight sacks in a season.
Even though he split time with the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens last year, he still managed to clear this benchmark.
His consistent production means that since his rookie year in 2016, he is 12th amongst all defensive players with 45.5 sacks.
His peak came with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017, when he finished eighth overall with 12 sacks.
With his affinity to wreak havoc in opposing backfields also comes the benefit of forcing fumbles.
His 18 forced fumbles since his debut are second only to former Raider Khalil Mack.
Pairing his talents with Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell should bode well for the team’s ability to generate pressure and disrupt opposing quarterbacks.
Knowledge Of The System
Aside from his statistical production, Ngakoue should be a seamless fit for the new defensive regime in Las Vegas.
After struggling under former defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, the Raiders brought in Gus Bradley to take over.
Bradley and Ngakoue intersected for one season in 2016, where Bradley was the head coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) March 31, 2021
Their brief time together was instrumental in recruiting the pass rusher to Sin City, though, as Ngakoue regarded his decision to reunite with his former coach as a “no-brainer.”
“Coach Gus had input in drafting me back in 2016, he knows what I bring to this game, and I feel like that’s a coach that knows how to utilized my skillset to make it super effective to help the team as much as possible,” he said. “So, with Gus being here, I know it’s like another father figure for me, it’s another guy that can help me out when I’m out here on a different coast, so it’s a blessing.”
This level of comfort should bode well for Ngakoue’s production in the 2021 season.
Ngakoue’s familiarity with the system should provide an opportunity for him to serve as the bridge between his new teammates and coaches.
And even though he is just 26 years old, his experience already makes him a veteran in his new clubhouse.
The Raiders’ have plenty of youthful players brimming with upside that have yet to put it together.
Crosby has put up good numbers, but Ferrell and Arden Key have failed to live up to expectations.
New free-agent addition Solomon Thomas is also a former first-rounder that has been unable to find his footing in the league.
“I embrace the opportunity and I embrace the challenge.”
Yannick Ngakoue and Solomon Thomas discuss signing with the Silver and Black, hopes for the 2021 season, and Gus Bradley on The Game Plan 🎙
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) March 25, 2021
Ideally, Ngakoue can help bring his teammates up to speed with Bradley’s new system and help this unit improve as a whole.