Raiders: Maxx Crosby was the team’s most surprising player in 2019

Raiders, Maxx Crosby (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Raiders, Maxx Crosby (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /

The Las Vegas Raiders had a number of surprising standouts last season, but no player was more surprising than rookie defensive end Maxx Crosby.

The moment the 2019 NFL Draft concluded, the then Oakland Raiders felt confident that they had secured a star defensive lineman. The team exhausted the fourth overall pick on former Clemson Tigers superstar Clelin Ferrell, giving them what they hoped was a franchise building block.

Head coach Jon Gruden seemed confident that they had landed their best pass rusher since the team made a controversial trade of perennial All-Pro Khalil Mack back in 2018.

In reality, the Raiders’ did draft an exceptional pass rusher. However, it was not Ferrell. It was fourth-round pick Maxx Crosby who happens to be the most surprising player of the 2019 season.

The Numbers

While Ferrell struggled with an inconsistent season on his way to just 4.5 sacks and 38 tackles, Crosby took the league by storm.

The former Eastern Michigan standout recorded a team-high 10 sacks in 10 starts. He also added 14 QB hits, 47 tackles, and four forced fumbles.

The advanced stats also displayed Crosby’s dominance. He finished the 2019 season with 31 QB pressures and a Pro Football Focus grade of 65.5.

This number tied him for the 25th best mark in the entire league and placed him ahead of Pro Bowlers like Jadeveon Clowney, DeMarcus Lawrence, Frank Clark, Chris Jones, Grady Jackson, Melvin Ingram, and Fletcher Cox.

His 16 QB hurries also earned him a spot in the top-15 in the NFL in that statistic.

These numbers show that Crosby was not simply the beneficiary of stumbling into a big total sack total. He was a genuinely dangerous pass rusher throughout the course of the entire season.

This is a huge level of production for a player who was given a lowly two-star grade coming out of high school.

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The Impact

No one could have predicted that the Eastern Michigan Eagles star would make this much of an immediate impact in the NFL. The Raiders are obviously thrilled that he has.

Head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock were able to build a pass-rushing tandem that could serve the team for the better part of the next decade.

Crosby is locked into a starting spot in 2020, while Ferrell has had the benefit of an entire offseason to build upon his phenomenal potential.

While the franchise should turn some of their upcoming draft capital or salary cap toward adding some help on the interior of the defensive line, they shouldn’t need to worry about their edge rushers for quite some time.

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As an added bonus, both players will be on their rookie contracts for the next few seasons.

The Raiders will have the unenviable task of competing in a division with former MVP and Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes. However, a tandem of good pass rushers could be the key to trying to contain the superstar quarterback.

Crosby’s breakout season makes the aforementioned Mack trade feel less painful. To be clear, Crosby should not be expected to produce at the same level as his Raiders predecessor.

But a consistent pass-rushing threat is one of the most valuable things in the NFL. The Raiders seem to have found one.

The Conclusion

Considering his combination of value, production, and raw talent, there is no question that Maxx Crosby was the most surprising players on the Raiders’ roster in 2019.

The 22-year-old is even more exciting when one considers his potential for growth. If he was able to post double-digit sacks in his rookie campaign, imagine what he could accomplish with the benefit of a few years of NFL experience and coaching.

The sky is the limit.

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Fans in the Bay Area, Las Vegas, and beyond should be thrilled at the prospect of watching Maxx Crosby grow as a member of the Las Vegas Raiders.