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Comparing pass rushers can be a matter of apples and oranges. Some thrive in a given gap or at a specific position while others don’t. For that, Touchdown Wire put together a list of the best pass rushers in the league by gap.
In total there were 11 pass rushers who stood out as the best in their given gap. Along with Aaron Donald, who is considered elite basically anywhere you put him.
While there were no Raiders pass rushers who made the 11 to be named the best pass rusher in any particular gap, there sure were a lot of players the Raiders will face this season. Literally all but two of the 11 spots were players who will line up across the line from the Raiders this season.
Those pass rushers are:
1-tech Grover Stewart, Indianapolis Colts
2i-tech Linval Joseph, LA Chargers
2-tech Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh Steelers
3-tech Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs
4i-tech Jarran Reed, Kansas City Chiefs
4-tech Stephen Tuitt, Pittsburgh Steelers
5-tech Emmanuel Ogbah, Miami Dolphins
7-tech Trey Hendrickson, Cincinnati Bengals
9-tech TJ Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers
This should make things especially interesting when considering the Raiders have three new starters on the offensive line this season and a 38-year-old Richie Incognito.
Things heat up quickly for this rebuilt offensive line. In week two in Pittsburgh, they face THREE players who are rated as the best at their position.
Cam Heyward will give Incognito and Denzelle Good all they can handle as the league’s top 2-tech DT.
Likewise, Steelers edge rushers Stephon Tuitt and TJ Watt will be a handful for left tackle Kolton Miller and rookie right tackle Alex Leatherwood. Tuitt is considered the league’s best 4-tech while Watt is the best 9-tech.
Watt in particular has been arguably the best edge rusher in the league the past three seasons, putting up 42.5 sacks and 97 QB hits over that time. Last season he put up incredible numbers with 15 sacks, 41 QB hits, 59 pressures, and 23 tackles for loss. Good effing luck stopping that with a rookie tackle, let alone any tight end the Raiders attempt to put there to help out.
The following week it’s a meeting with the Dolphins and top 5-tech Emmanuel Ogbah. So, no rest for the Raiders rook at right tackle. Just a different kind of trouble.
In week four the Raiders see their first division action against the Chargers where top 2i-tech Linval Joseph patrols the middle. He will keep Raiders center Andre James busy, offering the former undrafted free agent a big test in his first season as a starter. Oh, and the Chargers also have some guy named Joey Bosa screaming around the edge as well. They will face off again in the season finale.
While Khalil Mack didn’t make this list at any specific position, he is easily one of the best all-around edge rushers in the NFL and the Raiders will face him and the Bears in week five. And the following week they will face the Broncos with the duo of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb.
A couple of weeks and their bye week later, they face two of the league’s top pass rushers on the same line. The Chiefs come to town and with them comes top 3-tech Chris Jones and top 4i-tech Jarran Reed.
As if the Chiefs’ offense doesn’t offer enough of a problem, they brought in Reed to go alongside Jones this year, and the two of them should offer constant pressure against Good and Incognito at the very least. This will either prevent the Raiders from doubling either of them or free up one of them. This will play out in week 14 as well.
The week after that first Chiefs meeting, the Raiders will see the Bengals and their new pass rusher Trey Hendrickson. He was named the top 7-tech pass rusher. That’s a fairly standard edge-rushing defensive end spot. And Hendrickson put up 13.5 sacks last season in that role along with 25 QB hits and 12 tackles for loss, earning himself a monster 4-year, $60 million deal in Cincinnati.
In the final five games of the season, the Raiders see some killer duos. Starting in week 14 with Jones and Reed in Kansas City, then Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon in Cleveland, a re-match with Miller and Chubb from the Broncos, then top 1-tech Grover Stewart and All-Pro DT Deforest Buckner of the Colts, and finishing up the season against Joey Bosa and Linval Joseph of the Chargers.
We’re absolutely going to find out if the gamble the Raiders made in trading away C Rodney Hudson, G Gabe Jackson, and T Trent Brown pays off. Or if they find out the hard way.
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