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NFL Combine Wednesday notebook: Maxx Crosby making an impression on next wave of defensive linemen

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By: Matt Holder

NFL Combine | Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Recapping the defensive linemen’s and linebacker’s time at the podium

Indianapolis, IN — Wednesday marked Day 2 of the NFL Combine and while no players hit the field for workouts, the defensive linemen and linebackers were up at the podium addressing the media. That’s significant for the Las Vegas Raiders since defensive tackle is one of the biggest holes on the roster and linebacker is an ancillary need as well.

Below are a few notes to recap a few highlights from the day.

Crosby Becoming Model Player

During the Senior Bowl, something that stood out was UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu talking about how he models his game after Maxx Crosby. That was one of the first times I had heard a young pass-rusher mention Crosby as someone he studies and that trend has continued during the combine.

One of the first players I heard bring up Maxx’s name was FCS and Houston Baptist product Jalyx Hunt. When Hunt was asked about what he looks forward to in the NFL, he said “playing with the best pass-rushers in the world” and mentioned Crosby specifically along with Myles Garrett and Brian Burns.

Coincidentally, Crosby talked last offseason about wanting to be in the conversation as one of the best players at his position and clearly, he’s reached that level of respect. Several other prospects mentioned how they try to emulate what he does or model their games after him.

Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy II, who has been linked to the Raiders as a first-round pick in a few mock drafts, said he’d love to play alongside the All-Pro. That’d be a great tandem for the Silver and Black, especially since Murphy II can put pressure on the quarterback and is a good run defender.

LBs want to play for AP

Again, linebacker may not be a primary need for the Raiders but it is a position most would expect them to address in some form during the NFL Draft, especially since they have a lot of backers who are heading into contract years. Naturally, several prospects were asked about the idea of playing for a head coach who is a former backer like Antonio Pierce, and that appears to help make Las Vegas an attractive destination for them.

Ohio State linebacker Tommy Eichenberg is a linebacker I’d keep an eye on for the Raiders. He’s a physical run defender who has the grit coaches are going to love, best exemplified by him playing with broken hands at the end of the 2022 campaign and begging the Buckeye’s coaching staff to let him play with a dislocated elbow this season. Eichenberg was also one of the linebackers asked about Pierce.

On another linebacker note Clemson’s Jeremiah Trotter Jr. talked about his playing style and how his father, four-time Pro Bowler Jeremiah Trotter Sr., has helped him throughout the draft process so far.

I like UTEP linebacker Tyrice Knight as a potential late-round sleeper for the Raiders, and below he talks about his game and how he studies Fred Warner.

Defensive Tackle Notes

Massive Texas defensive tackle T’Vondre Sweat was scheduled to answer questions at 10:00 a.m. but didn’t end up stepping up to the podium until around 2:00 p.m. He said he was getting a medical evaluation/physical — off-site, from what I’m hearing — but did not provide specifics for the cause of the delay.

Sweat also was asked about his weight a lot. He notably did not weigh in at the Senior Bowl last month and said that he’d like to play around 365 pounds. For the most part, he dodged questions on the matter by not giving specific answers, but the former Longhorn did say he’ll step on the scale on Thursday.

One player who should be on Las Vegas’ radar as a potential 3-technique is Jer’Zhan “Johnny” Newton from Illinois. Ahead of the combine, Newton’s camp made a surprise announcement that he won’t be participating in the on-field drills due to a foot injury. He addressed that today and said the injury happened mid-season but he decided to play through it.

Brandon Dorlus out of Oregon is someone who I’ve brought up several times as a potential target for the Silver and Black. Dorlus had some interesting comments about being a three-down defensive lineman and what position he’d like to play at the next level as he showed a lot of versatility in college.

Clemson’s Ruke Orhoroho is another defensive lineman who can play up and down the line and someone I like as a Day 2 target. Orhoroho has an interesting background, having moved to the United States from Nigeria at nine years old and being more of a basketball player until his junior year of high school. He touched on those topics in the clips below.

Other Notes

Rounding up a few other notes/posts that aren’t necessarily Raiders-related but provide some interesting tidbits of information.

I asked Utah edge Jonah Elliss about his pass-rush plan and he gave a very detailed answer that any defensive line junkies will love to hear.

Missouri’s Darius Robinson’s best position in the NFL is ambiguous and he talked about being able to play anywhere from a 0- to 9-technique in the trenches.

Before transferring to UCLA, Latu suffered a neck injury at Washington that caused the Huskies’ doctor to medically retire him. He talked about becoming a firefighter if that had ended his career, and he said that will be his next career path if the NFL doesn’t work out.

Alabama defensive lineman Justin Eboigbe talking about the neck injury that caused him to miss the majority of the 2022 season.

That’ll do it for Wednesday’s recap. Be on the lookout for Thursday’s notes as the defensive backs step up to the podium and the defensive linemen and linebackers hit the field for the workouts.

Originally posted on Silver And Black Pride