The odds are against Maxx Crosby winning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
The Raiders’ defensive end from Eastern Michigan – despite having a strong season – didn’t come into the league as a ballyhooed first-round pick and didn’t massively outperform some of those who did.
San Francisco defensive end Nick Bosa, Pittsburgh linebacker Devin Bush and Jacksonville edge defender Josh Allen rank as the clear favorites by Las Vegas oddsmakers to win the award.
But certainly, Crosby will get some well-deserved votes.
The 6-foot-5, 255-pound, fourth-round pick broke his hand in the preseason but nevertheless was able to play 23 snaps in the regular-season opener and get in on six tackles.
As the season progressed he earned more and more playing time and eventually played 72 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, with 10 starts. He had 10 sacks, 14 quarterback hits, 46 tackles, four forced fumbles and four passes defensed. His 10 sacks as a rookie is second all-time for the franchise, behind Greg Townsend’s 10½ in 1983.
His season highlight came in November, when he had four sacks in a victory over the Bengals to earn AFC Defensive Player of the Week. The four sacks in a game by a rookie ranks as the second highest total in league history.
And, as Marcus Mosher of RaidersWire noted, Crosby’s sack total as a rookie is tied for the fifth-best in the league over the past decade, behind only Aldon Smith (14 in 2011), Bradley Chubb (12, 2018), Von Miller (11½, 2011), Josh Allen (10½, this season) and Joey Bosa (10½, 2016).
At one point this season, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said he and his staff saw something special in Crosby in training camp when he sometimes struggled against the likes of Trent Brown and Kolton Miller in drills, yet persisted and learned.
“But he never backed down,” said Gruden. “Had some really great second-effort plays and he’s developed (his) rush. We saw it from the very beginning.”
As the Raiders look toward 2020, they see several areas of needed improvement. But they’re confident Crosby can continue to be a high-impact pass rusher.