Zo huddle
Photo Credit: ClutchPoints

FSM Presents: Zo Huddle – What Yannick Ngakoue Brings To The Raiders

Franchise Sports Media

The Las Vegas Raiders used Monday’s free agency period to immediately bolster the pass rush. The Zo Huddle takes a close look at what defensive end signing Yannick Ngakoue brings to Sin City.


During a time when some Americans are waiting for that stimulus check (the Zo Huddle is still waiting for the direct deposit spike), the Las Vegas Raiders cashed in on free agency week by dropping millions on a veteran NFL rush end.

Whether the Raiders front office combined their stimulus check money to snatch this new DE remains to be seen (or if they are waiting on the stimmy like the Zo Huddle is). Nevertheless, this move is proof that the Silver and Black are indeed acknowledging the edge rush needs to improve now…and improving it comes with a $26 million price tag with $22 million in guaranteed money.


What does Yannick Ngakoue bring to the field? And can he be the spark that ignites the pass rush? The Zo Huddle breaks down the move:


Age: 25 (turns 26 on March 31)

NFL years: Six

Teams: Jacksonville, Minnesota, and Baltimore

Total games played: 78

Notable stats: 128 solo tackles, 45.5 career sacks, 18 forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries


Familiarity with the defense


Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: Silver and Black Pride

The move to lure Ngakoue to Las Vegas pairs him with new L.V. defensive coordinator Gus Bradley once again.

Bradley not only coached Ngakoue with the Jaguars, but he was one of the last draft picks for Bradley in 2016. The Maryland DE was part of the Jags’ draft class that featured Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack – who went in the first and second round, respectively, before Jacksonville took Ngakoue in the third.

He first caught the attention of the Jags after carving out his career as an elite pass rusher in the Big 10 – shattering the school’s season record in sacks with 13.5 in his last voyage with Maryland including bringing down quarterbacks against No. 1 Ohio State and No. 14 Michigan State.

Ngakoue was originally slated to be a situational rusher in his first year at Florida’s largest city. However, he ended up starting in 15 games and posted eight sacks. That season would be a prelude of what was to come for the former Terrapin: Five straight seasons of eight sacks or more.


What makes him a pass rushing upgrade?


Coming into the league, Ngakoue didn’t have the prototypical build of the average DE; coming in at 6-foot-2, 252-pounds, and being slapped with the “undersized” label.

But, being labeled the “U” word means having an edge in quickness and pad leverage – both strong traits of Ngakoue.



His explosive get-off after the snap is his strongest trait. He’s quick and disruptive enough to get past the line of scrimmage and only give quarterbacks two seconds to throw. In one-on-one scenarios, Ngakoue consistently beats the tackle first off-speed, then through an array of pass rush moves.

How quick is Ngakoue? Not only does he have the snap explosion to blow past offensive tackles, but manages to force additional blockers to quickly react to picking him up…but being a step too late, as seen here with Ngakoue beating All-Pro tight end Greg Olsen to Kyle Allen against Carolina:



In scrutinizing his hand game, he relies on the hand swipe to avoid getting tangled with blockers. It’s a smart maneuver, especially with having the advantage in speed. However, it’s not the only pass rush move he’s developed.

He has hit blockers with the spin move, one of the harder moves to execute along the trenches. The key for a well-executed spin move is boldly knowing where the ball will go and timing the move. Ngakoue doesn’t use this move every down, but when he does, he’s disruptive enough to get the sack or extend out his hand and force the fumble.



Success versus pocket quarterbacks


As mentioned above, Ngakoue has 45.5 sacks.

His best work was against pocket passers, as 61.5% of those sacks came against guys who are known for standing in the pocket.

Notable pro-style QB’s who felt Ngakoue’s shoulder pads and hands: Ben Roethlisberger, Sam Darnold, and his new teammate Derek Carr…twice in 2019.

Ryan Tannehill felt his biggest wrath. Along with sacks, Ngakoue forced three fumbles in a two-season span against the Titan.



Success versus dual-threats


Just because Ngakoue has more sacks versus pocket passers doesn’t mean he hasn’t taken down QB’s who can run and throw.

He has 17.5 sacks against dual-threats. He’s produced multiple sacks versus Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, and Jacoby Brissett, the latter being the recipient of 3.5 career Ngakoue sacks against him.

But some of Ngakoue’s best work also came against DeShaun Watson – 3.5 career sacks against the uncanny running and throwing threat.


How will he fit the Raiders?


Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: RaidersBeat

Bradley prefers dialing up the pressure with the front four and rarely blitzes. In fact, his last two Los Angeles Charger defenses rated last in the league in blitz percentage.

Yet, Bradley has shown to be effective in using cat-quick rushers across the line. His defenses in Seattle with Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril and having the Chargers duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are proof of that.

Ngakoue’s first-step burst and edge acceleration will benefit Maxx Crosby greatly. Crosby has been the Raiders’ most consistent pass rusher, but he’s been beaten to the ground by blockers and has struggled with having consistent help. Ngakoue has the athleticism to force double teams – freeing up Crosby in future matchups.

You may also see scenarios where the Raiders will go with a DE-heavy trench lineup. Perhaps Ngakoue, Crosby, and Clelin Ferrell will be on the field together to turn up the pressure.




This is the first smart signing for the Silver and Black in the 2021 free agent haul. A previous Zo Huddle article called for bolstering the DE unit, and the Raiders made the bold move to sign one of the league’s most underrated pass rushers.

Sure, Ngakoue has played for three different teams. However, getting past the eight-sack threshold in your first five seasons is one hell of an accomplishment.


The Zo Huddle is still on the fence of the Raiders drafting more DE’s come April. But getting a young edge presence in Ngakoue is a tremendous shot in the arm and legs for a Raiders’ pass rush that only got 21 sacks last season.

Zo Huddle         Zo Huddle         Zo Huddle         Zo Huddle         Zo Huddle         Zo Huddle         Zo Huddle         Zo Huddle         Zo Huddle         Zo Huddle       

Lorenzo J. Reyna – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Zo on Twitter: @LJ_Reyna

Join The Franchise on Social Media