HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — Even with Maxx Crosby, the Las Vegas Raiders were among the NFL’s worst in getting to the quarterback.
The Raiders took what they hope is a major step toward correcting that problem by selecting Texas Tech edge rusher Tyree Wilson with the seventh overall pick of the NFL draft on Thursday night.
The Raiders were 30th in the NFL last season with 27 sacks, and Crosby had nearly half of those with 12 1/2.
“I’ve been watching (Crosby) for a while,” Wilson said. “He’s a great pass rusher, dominant and a disruptive player that’s going to be relentless all over the field. That’s how I try to play my game, relentless and disruptive.”
How quickly the 6-foot-6, 271-pound Wilson can boost a pass rush remains to be seen. He could have a hard time breaking into the starting lineup next season at end with Chandler Jones manning the side opposite Crosby, but Wilson very well could be part of the rotation.
The Raiders had to get more out of Jones than the 4 1/2 sacks he delivered but he played much better down the stretch, with four of those sacks coming in December, including three against the Los Angeles Chargers.
“I’m excited to join the team and learn from guys like him and Maxx to help take my game to another level and help the team get to a Super Bowl,” Wilson said.
General manager Dave Ziegler said Wilson has the versatility to play inside and allow him, Crosby and Jones to be on the field at the same time. Ziegler also said Wilson’s athleticism will be valuable in an AFC West filled with quarterbacks who can run.
“He can move around in his own way, so being able to have some guys who can pressure the quarterback, disrupt the pocket and then have more guys who can do that in phases, I think is valuable,” Ziegler said.
Wilson, who transferred from Texas A&M in 2020, was quite successful at pressuring the quarterback at Texas Tech. He recorded 14 sacks his last two seasons and was a second-team AP All-American last year.
His season ended Nov. 12 because of a foot injury, and Wilson underwent surgery nine days later. He did not participate in the NFL scouting combine or Texas Tech’s pro day. But Wilson said he would be ready by training camp.
“It’s up to the staff at the Raiders to see what percent I am,” Wilson said. “I feel great.”
Las Vegas brought Wilson in for one of its top-30 visits and clearly was comfortable enough to select him with such a high pick.
Ziegler said he didn’t know whether Wilson would be available at the seventh spot, but three quarterbacks going in the first four picks helped pave the way for that to happen.
“He happened to get pushed down the board, so very excited when we saw that he was still there,” Ziegler said.
The Raiders could have selected Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter, a player with top-five talent. Carter pleaded no contest to reckless driving and racing in March after a car crash that killed Georgia offensive lineman Devin Willock and recruiting staffer Chandler LeCroy. Carter instead went ninth to Philadelphia.
Ziegler said the Raiders considered taking Carter and several other players at that spot.
“Ultimately, we felt like the guy we chose was the best fit for us,” Ziegler said.
The Raiders, who went 6-11 last season, have plenty of work left over the final two days of the draft. They own five selections in the first 109 picks and 12 overall.
Much of that work will focus on improving a defense that ranked 27th last season in average yardage allowed (365.6) and 26th in scoring average (24.6).
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