Heading into 2019, the Oakland Raiders had a number of high profile new additions through free agency, trades and the draft in their final season before moving to Las Vegas. Mike Mayock was entering his first season as an NFL general manager and things were looking up for a rebuilding franchise.
It helped that a number of young players emerged throughout the course of the season, including Maxx CrosbyRaiders.com:
No. I expected Maxx to come in and compete his tail off because that’s what he does. Um, he jumps off the tape as the energizer [bunny]. The cool thing about Maxx is, he’s got length and he can bend. And a lot of big guys can’t bend. So, when you put in length, the ability to bend and his motor, we knew he had a high chance to succeed in the NFL at a certain point. We also thought, he was a little bit power deficient. I, I’ll tell you, he put on 10 or… rookies don’t put 10, 12 pounds on during their rookie season. He hit the weight room. He bought into the nutrition program. Everything he did was the right thing and, you know, every week he got better. You know, he, he listens to coaching. He puts weight on. He comes out and more than anything though, he plays every week and every day like his hair’s on fire. So, did he exceed our expectations year one? Absolutely. And I think the challenge for him and the rest of the rookies is to take a big step in year two.
Mayock has the right idea as the next real challenge for all of the Raiders rookies is to have successful sophomore campaigns. Crosby is likely going to be on many other teams radars as the player to stop, so he will have to find a way to break through imposing offensive lines.
On the other hand, if fellow 2019 draftee Clelin Ferrell takes the big step that Mayock is hoping for, the game should come easier for Crosby and the rest of the defense as well. Ferrell finished with 4.5 sacks and appeared to be more comfortable as the year went on. He and Crosby have dubbed their dynamic duo “Salt and Peppa,” and hopefully they can continue to grow as players and teammates in 2020.