Raiders general manager Mike Mayock had been following Maxx Crosby for months leading up to the NFL draft, with an eye on making him a mid-round selection.
Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden were giving Mark Davis a prospect briefing last month when the Eastern Michigan edge rusher’s film came on screen, and the Raiders owner instinctively made a lofty comparison.
“Right away, it’s, ‘Oh my God, that’s Ted Hendricks, that’s the ‘Mad Stork,’” Mayock said last week in an interview with SiriusXM radio. “You could almost (see it), with all the arms and legs, he’s so thin and so tall.”
Their builds are similar. Hendricks was a lanky 6-foot-7, 220 pounds of havoc creation. Crosby’s a bit thicker, standing 6-5, 255. Highlight reels show both guys causing chaos with long arms moving all over the place
The Mad Stork did most everything well for 15 NFL seasons, including nine with the Raiders, and was rightfully given a gold jacket. Crosby has done so against small-school competition, and is a fourth-round pick just getting started.
The comparison isn’t apples to apples in every sense, but Davis' link isn't out of left field. Any connection drawn between a rookie and a Pro Football Hall of Fame player can be daunting, but Crosby accepted it appropriately.
“It’s an honor. He’s a legend,” Crosby said last week. “It’s kind of crazy, just seeing all the feedback (since the draft). It’s been mostly positive and fans here in Oakland are die-hards. It’s an honor to be here, to play for such a legendary organization and I can’t wait to go put it out on the field.”
Crosby was productive at Eastern Michigan, with 18.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles over his last two college seasons. There is some development Crosby desperately needs in order to provide pressure off the edge in the NFL.
“He plays every snap like his hair is on fire, that’s No. 1. No. 2, he has length. No. 3, he ran in the 4.6’s, low 4.6’s if I remember at 255 pounds and 6-foot-5. So he has some twitch,” Mayock said in a post-draft press conference. “He has length, he has twitch. He has a great motor. What he doesn’t have yet is power. He doesn’t have strength yet, and he needs to develop that. When I got on the phone with him, I told him that his future was going to be dependent on a Gruden, but not the one he thought. It’s going to be [strength and conditioning assistant coach] Deuce [Gruden]. I wanted him to get philosophically connected at the hip with Deuce because he has to get stronger. But I love his tape because he plays his ass off on every play.”
While Crosby gained more than 40 pounds in college, the next stage of his physical development is more about power than considerable extra bulk. Gruden’s son Deuce is a world class powerlifter, and can help Crosby add the strength required to compete against NFL offensive tackles and tight ends.
“I’ve already talked to him a few times and the whole strength staff. I can’t wait to get after it,” Crosby said. “…They just want me to get stronger. I don’t think weight is the biggest issue, I’m around 255 right now. I just have to keep getting stronger and I have all summer to do that. I’m going to do everything I can to make that happen.”
Expectations won’t be as high for Crosby as for No. 4 overall pick Clelin Ferrell. The Clemson product will ideally be a three-down player right away. Finding efficient production as a situational pass rusher would be a good start for Crosby. He’s a tremendous athlete the Raiders believe can develop into a productive pro.
“He’s ‘Mad Maxx,’” coach Jon Gruden said. “He comes off the ball repeatedly with great effort. I like that relentless style he plays with. He’s gotten bigger and stronger every year that he’s played and some of his second effort production is what stands out the most, but he really tested well at the combine. He’s got real big upside.”