The Raiders believed they had a diamond in the rough when they drafted Maxx Crosby in the fourth round.
They loved his quickness, his never-stop motor and desire, but believed he might take a while to develop. Now, just 10 games into his NFL career, Crosby is showing general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden that he’s already arrived as a pass-rushing star.
Crosby on Sunday had a huge game in a 17-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals to help boost Oakland’s record to 6-4 and put the Raiders into a tie for first place in the AFC West with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Crosby had four sacks, was in on five tackles, had three tackles for loss and a forced fumble against the Bengals. For the season, the rookie from Eastern Michigan now has 6½ sacks, 11 quarterback hits, 28 tackles, three passes defensed and three forced fumbles.
At 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds, Crosby was considered on the light side when he was drafted. The Raiders believed he’d have to hit the weights hard to gain strength to deal with NFL-sized offensive linemen. But Crosby has come on fast and is giving Oakland a pair of rookie pass rushers at defensive end (with No. 1 pick Clelin Ferrell). They could be a terrific tandem for several years. Ferrell had a 2½-sack game recently in a win over the Chargers.
Crosby credits much of his rapid improvement to first-year defensive line coach Brentson Buckner.
"I think it comes down to Coach Buck on the mental side of things," he told reporters after Sunday’s win. "At first, everything was going so fast and I was thinking too much and my technique wasn’t all there, but having him is super helpful."
Said Gruden: "He’s been near the quarterback, he’s been hitting the quarterback, he’s been batting balls down from the quarterback, and today he got to the quarterback. So, we’re really pleased with his progress. You got to give him a lot of credit. … He’s gotten stronger, he’s gotten better and he’s got a great future here."
Crosby is just behind Benson Mayowa (seven sacks) for the Raiders lead and is tied for 22nd in the NFL with his 6½ sacks. After a league-low 13 team sacks a year ago, Oakland has 25 through 10 games in 2019, tied for No. 15 in the NFL.
The Raiders have won three straight and are 5-1 at home. They travel to the East Coast this week to face the 3-7 New York Jets Sunday. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m.