The Raiders need to upgrade their pass rush this offseason.
The team’s lack of consistent quarterback pressure became painfully obvious throughout the course of the season. Las Vegas finished with just 21 team sacks, the fourth-worst total in the league.
So Raiders fans might be excited to see ESPN NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr.’s first mock draft, which pegs Miami defensive end Jaelan Phillips as the No. 17 overall pick for Las Vegas.
“This is a strange draft in that there are no dominant pass-rushers,” Kiper wrote. “Phillips could be the top edge prospect, and I have only a mid-first-round grade on him. But he had a dominant season for the Hurricanes after transferring from UCLA, where he had ended his career because of concussion issues.”
Phillips is listed at 6-foot-5, 266 pounds and showed some major burst off the edge throughout his career. After sitting out 2019 due to NCAA transfer rules, Phillips was a wrecking ball for Miami last year, racking up 45 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks.
His medical history, which also includes wrist injuries due to a moped accident at UCLA, might give some cause for concern. But Phillips’ talent is undeniable, and has the tools to help new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.
Maxx Crosby led the team in sacks for the second straight year with seven, but the Raiders are still trying to fill the massive void on their defensive front left by Khalil Mack following his 2018 trade. The Raiders hoped Clelin Ferrell would be the answer when they drafted him No. 4 overall in 2019, but he’s produced just 6.5 sacks in 26 games since being picked.