[HOT] : Yannick Ngakoue hopes for a new start with the Las Vegas Raiders | NFL News

The road to Las Vegas has been prosperous, difficult and bumpy for Yannick Ngakoue, but when he arrives, it feels like long-term home. Or he hopes so.

If that is ever to happen to the 26-year-old, there is a feeling that now is the time and place; “Will happen” meaning assert himself among the top passers in the NFL, where he believes and his talent in the past has hinted that he could one day belong.

Ngakoue made a fresh start for the third time in a year in the past offseason by signing a two-year, $ 26 million deal with the Raiders in free agency, reuniting with defensive coordinator Gus Bradley with whom he played as a rookie with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The career of the 2016 third-round pick was in limbo last season as he split his time between Minnesota and Baltimore, registering 12 tackles, five sacks and two forced fumbles in five games (four starts) with the Vikings forward. to contribute 11 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles and a pass defense in nine games (three starts) after being traded to the Ravens.

If all goes according to plan, he will be staying with what marks his fourth team since entering the NFL for much longer.

He needed a place where he could settle down, devote his profession without a wandering eye, and consider spending the early years of his career – his new teammates voting him as captain for the 2021 season posing as a step in the right direction. direction.

“It means a lot,” he told reporters. “It’s something that I always wanted to be in my first four years in the NFL and it wasn’t for me to do it, but now it’s my turn and I’m taking the role very seriously.” and I just want to lead by example. “

Ngakoue looked like a steal in the 2016 draft when he recorded 23 tackles, eight sacks, four forced fumbles and two pass defenses after being selected 69th overall in Maryland.

He followed in his sophomore year with 30 tackles, 12 sacks, six forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, one of which returned for a touchdown as a defining figure in the ranked 2017 Jaguars star defense. second overall on the way to the AFC championship game. also including Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson, Dante Fowler, Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey.

Over the next two seasons, he racked up 69 tackles, 17.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, seven pass defenses and one interception, before his career hit that aforementioned bump.

Ngakoue forces a fumble from Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage in 2017

In March 2020, Ngakoue took to Twitter to announce his desire to be traded while stating that he had no plans to play for the Jaguars again in the future. Jacksonville then placed his franchise tag on him, causing more tension over the next month until Ngakoue was also embroiled in a dispute with franchise co-owner Tony Khan on social media.

His request was finally granted on August 31 when he was traded to the Vikings, where he would only make five starts before heading to Baltimore for the second half of last season.

On Monday night, Baltimore will come to his senses when the Raiders host Lamar Jackson and the Raiders at Allegiant Stadium in their 2021 season opener.

“I would say my character, being able to handle adversity,” said Ngakoue, when asked about his biggest takeaway with the Ravens. “Even though you might not be being used the right way, you just need to know that you need to keep moving forward. Everyone’s journey is different. “

Such has been his career path over the last 18 months or so, his young age surprises some in addition to being proof of a still high ceiling.

“What guy, I’m sitting there and I’m like ‘he’s 26? Oh my God, ”Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said earlier this summer. “There are some guys in football, when they come on the pitch and do something like that it’s a different level and he really has that in him. “

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Rave reviews have been a running theme since his arrival, with head coach Jon Gruden praising his work ethic by joking that it was as if Ngakoue had ‘lived in the facility’ during the offseason.

“My car is here, his car is here,” he said. “I pass by the establishment and his car is still there. “

Defensive coordinator Bradley, meanwhile, cited a growth in maturity and leadership, hence those around him see him as a worthy captain.

The ugly end of his tenure with the Jaguars made it easy to forget the slippery disruptor with power and athleticism to dive and tear and lateral quickness to contain the runner. Bradley hasn’t forgotten.

“He’s always been a pro, a meticulous, detail-oriented note-taker, he’s a very, very proud man,” Bradley said during training camp. “I think what I’ve seen him do more now is he helps everyone, he helps young players. “

Ngakoue’s introduction is part of the Raiders’ efforts to tackle a defense that ranked 25th last year, with former San Francisco 49ers first-round defensive tackle Solomon Thomas and the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers veteran Gerald McCoy also signing in free agency.

“I’ve been watching his movie since he’s been in Maryland, the guy’s technique is out of this world,” said Thomas de Ngakoue.

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Maxx Crosby, leader of the backpack team bag, Carl Nassib, coach of Ngakoue in 2016, Jonathan Hankins and Clelin Ferrell, the latter faces a gigantic year as he struggles to justify his selection as fourth overall pick in 2019..

Based on first impressions, Ngakoue set the bar high.

“I feel like this line is super super talented, every defensive line group I’ve been a part of brought certain attributes and different types of talent, but this group is just as special as the 2017 defense that I was in. was part of Florida, ”he said. “I expect a lot. All of these guys are ballers. “

Ngakoue watched colleague Joey Bosa sign a five-year, $ 135 million contract extension with the Los Angeles Chargers in July 2020. He watched 2017 first-round pick TJ Watt sign a 112 million contract. dollars over four years, including $ 80. I am guaranteed with the Pittsburgh Steelers to become the league’s highest paid defenseman earlier this month.

While he might not hit those kinds of numbers, the top echelon of NFL edge rushers is where he wants to be. Vegas is an opportunity to take back this objective.

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