Raiders 2018 draft class already showing signs of improved pass rush
/ Raiders

By Carl Cockerham

It’s been a long time since the Oakland Raiders were any good defending the pass. They’re hopeful about their secondary now as they expect safety Karl Joseph and cornerback Gareon Conley to break out this year. Plus they’ve added CB Rashaan Melvin along with a host of other defensive backs in free agency.

So in the 2018 NFL Draft, they addressed their pass-rush with interior pass-rushers PJ Hall and Maurice Hurst and got edge-rusher Arden Key to rotate with Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin.

Mack sacked the quarterback 10.5 times in 2017 despite all the triple-teams he faced. But the Raiders were No. 24 in sacks, leading to the No. 26 ranking against the pass. From the beginning, head coach Jon Gruden believed he got the right men for the job.

“To get those two guys, we felt they were the top two inside rushers in this draft,” Gruden said in May of Hall and Hurst.

“Two years ago, his tape was unbelievable,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said in May of Key. “He was a heck of a football player. He gained 25 or 26 pounds—he bulked up. I think he tried to add a different dimension to his game size-wise. Perhaps it backfired, he got hurt and there were issues there. He underachieved his year, but I go back to the film two years ago—the kid is special—and I know the man that’s been training...

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