Las Vegas Raiders Who Need to Step Up Going Forward
Darin Alexander Baydoun
The Las Vegas Raiders have received a number of contributions from across the roster as they’ve gotten off to a 3-2 start and have dealt with a number of key injuries.
However, there are players who haven’t delivered the kind of performance that the Raiders and their fans expected this season. As you can imagine, all three players we reference are on the defense.
Granted, it has only been five games, but the Raiders will need these players to step up if they’re going to reach their ceiling this season.
#1: Clelin Ferrell
Ferrell is starting to pick it up after maybe playing his best game as a Raider in the win over the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday.
Ferrell’s impact as a pass rusher was noticeable and impactful for much of the game.
The problem is that we haven’t seen that kind of impact enough from the fourth pick overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Despite his good game against the Chiefs, he still has not recorded a sack this season and has only two quarterback hits and six hurries.
Considering the investment the Raiders made in him and their need for a consistent pass rush, Ferrell’s need to improve should serve as a key watching point for the rest of the season, especially if the Raiders defense goes through more struggles.
#2: Maurice Hurst
This could probably go to any of the Raiders interior defensive lineman, considering the overall lack of production, but we’ll go with Hurst here. When not sidelined by COVID-19, he has been the best interior lineman.
But on a unit that has under-produced, being the best doesn't mean he can't give more. We at Raider Maven have high expectations for him, we believe in him. The Raiders need more.
A first-round caliber talent who went in the fifth round in 2018 due to a heart condition, Hurst showed early pass rush promise but has done little this season now that he’s not starting.
Hurst also was put on the Reserve/COVID-19 list last week, which puts him behind even more. Certainly, as a big free-agent signing, Malike Collins would make most people's list here instead of Hurst. The problem is that we think he is better than Collins, and these the Raiders need for more.
#3. Cory Littleton
Perhaps no player on the Las Vegas Raiders has been more disappointing than Cory Littleton. This is not a comment on his character, he is a fine man. But as a highly compensated free agent who got no spring OTA's or preseason games, his adjustment has been disappointing.
To his credit, Littleton has given maximum effort, the issue is simply on production.
Littleton looked like a major get in free agency this offseason for a Raiders team that needed good linebackers.
He can still be that Littleton has gotten off to a sloppy start, as the former Pro Bowler hasn’t done great in coverage so far this season.
Littleton is giving up the most yards per completion, yards per target, and quarterback rating of his career as a full-time starter.
He’s also given up 231 yards after the catch this season. For reference, he only gave up 293 YAC in 16 games for the Los Angeles Rams last year.
That should largely have to do with the fact he’s missed 11 tackles so far this season, 28.9 percent of his total amount.
The Raiders brought Littleton in because he showed he could cover and play a sound middle linebacker.
They need him to show that going forward because his play has been too sloppy so far.
However, he’s still young enough in his career to turn it around, but one has to wonder if that’ll be with the Raiders if he can’t provide more production going forward.
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