Henderson, Nev.—Christmas came early for the Raider Nation in the form of a 6-2, 252-pound edge rusher by the name of Yannick Ngakoue.
The grizzled 26-year-old veteran brings consistency and professionalism to the Silver and Black at their most significant need on defense. He was the best edge rusher in the 2021 free agent class, and the Raiders' ability to get the deal done was impressive.
"This was the place that I've always dreamed about being to work." Ngakoue said. "The Raiders organization, they definitely tried to reach out and grab me early in the process.
"Unfortunately, it didn't go the way we both wanted, so it took time. Ultimately, I'm back here where I wanted to be and it worked out, so I would say everything happens for a reason."
To fully understand how big the signing was, Sports Illustrated's Raider Maven reached out to former NFL coach and insider Jim Mora Jr. for his assessment of the Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock signing.
"He is going to affect the quarterback. He is only one of four players to every average eight sacks per year in their first five years in the league," Mora raved. "He's got 45½ sacks and he can press the edge and he can get to the quarterback."
But Mora wasn't done. He had more praise for the Raiders' prize catch in the 2021 NFL free-agent pond.
"(Ngakoue) causes fumbles and he is a disruptive defensive player," Mora said. "I think that it is key that he is matched back up with Gus Bradley. He was his head coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but now his defensive coordinator with the Las Vegas Raiders."
Mora was Bradley's boss in Seattle, and he explains how Ngakoue fits in the Bradley system.
"Gus will know how to use him," Mora said. "He fits what Gus Bradley wants in a right end. I think he is going to be an impactful player. They needed a pass rush. They needed an edge rusher and they got a guy now that can press the edge."
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