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Raiders EGDGE Malcolm Koonce named breakout candidate for 2024 season

One of the most surprising developments from the 2024 season was the play of the defense for the Las Vegas Raiders. Their best performance of the season came in a road win against the Chiefs, who are on their way to another Super Bowl.

The Raiders were ferocious on defense in the second half of the season, and a big reason why was due to their pass rush. Maxx Crosby played at an elite level once again, but he finally got some help on the other side.

Malcolm Koonce had a breakout season for the Raiders, but he is primed to make another leap in 2024. Here is why Pro Football Focus believes he could be one of the NFL’s biggest breakout candidates next season:

Koonce went on an incredible run in the back half of the year, producing 38 pressures, eight sacks and an 83.4 PFF pass-rush grade, which ranked among the top 15 at his position from Weeks 9-18. Koonce earned himself a larger role for 2024, and with 2023 eighth-overall pick Tyree Wilson still a work in progress, Koonce should be expected to play a large part in the Raiders defense next season.

Koonce should be a full-time starter in 2024 with Tyree Wilson rotating in at times. The Raiders were at their best last season with Koonce and Crosby at end and Wilson rushing the passer from the interior.

If Koonce can take another step as a pass rusher, the Raiders might have one of the better pass-rush duos in the NFL. His play in the final eight games of the season was very encouraging moving forward for Las Vegas.

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Story originally appeared on Raiders Wire