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Neil Farrell Jr. Raiders 2022
Las Vegas Raiders

Rookie Neil Farrell Jr. Could Be Impact Player for Raiders in 2022

  • Brentley Weissman
  • July 22, 2022
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The dog days of summer are drawing to an end. The Las Vegas Raiders were the first team to fully report to training camp Wednesday, signifying that football is back. The Raiders are one of the more fascinating teams in the league heading into this season, coming off a season in which they made the playoffs amidst all sorts of turmoil and adversity. They saw a breakout season from two of their young stars in wide receiver Hunter Renfrow and defensive end Maxx Crosby both establishing themselves amongst the best at their respective positions. Quarterback Derek Carr had a strong year and was highly impressive in the biggest moments of the season. They’ve since signed wide receiver Davante Adams. They also yielded a solid draft class, acquiring prospects like offensive guard Dylan Parham and defensive tackle Neil Farrell Jr.  And with the success they had last season coupled with the additions they made this offseason, it’s a bit surprising to not see more analysts show optimism for their 2022 outlook.

Las Vegas looks to make their way back to the postseason in 2022 even while playing in a loaded division. The team made a strong coaching hire when they tapped former Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels to lead their team moving forward. McDaniels has long been considered one of the brightest offensive minds in football and I am excited to see the work he will be able to do with an offense that is loaded with talent. Offense was never the problem for the Raiders over the last few seasons and certainly won’t be what prohibits them from making the playoffs.

Last season the Raiders finished near the top 10 in every statistical offensive category but struggled to replicate that success on defense. The team ranked 25th in the league in points allowed per game and struggled to stop the run in got to have it moments. The Raiders defense isn’t without talent, as they do return Crosby who is coming off his first Pro Bowl nod, linebacker Denzel Perryman who had a career year, and a pair of second year defensive backs in Nate Hobbs and Tre’Von Moehrig. McDaniels and new General Manager Dave Ziegler also did a great job in free agency adding more talent to the defensive side of the ball as they acquired edge rusher Chandler Jones and corners Rock Ya-Sin and Anthony Averett. While Crosby and Jones will certainly steal most of the headlines with regards to their defensive line, there is another player that I expect big things from and that’s the aforementioned rookie nose tackle Neil Farrell Jr.

The LSU product was selected by the Raiders in the 4th round of this year’s draft and I believe out of the team’s six picks, he is the one that’s primed for a big year one impact.

Let’s first talk about Farrell as a player. Neil Farrell Jr. entered the draft process as one of the best run-defending interior lineman in the draft. He has outstanding size with a wide body and thick trunk. He primarily aligns at nose tackle where he is head up on the center and asked to two-gap and take on double teams. He has very good power at the point of attack and shows an ability to get off blocks quickly to make the tackle. For a man with his size, he is a very good athlete with regard to first step quickness, lateral mobility and body control. He flashes an ability to shoot gaps inside as a run defender and offers pass rush upside as a bull rusher. Many evaluators were surprised that he lasted until the fourth round and felt that the Raiders got a steal.

Interior defensive line has traditionally been a position that’s hard for rookies to adjust to when making the leap from college to the NFL. They often take time to get the hang of the speed/power which interior offensive lineman bring to the table at the NFL level and often won’t see playing time until late in their rookie season. That isn’t going to be the case here with Farrell. The Raiders lost nearly every interior defensive lineman that saw playing time for them last season and only veteran Jonathan Hankins returns as an experienced player. Hankins, who has been solid for the Raiders over the last few seasons, saw a major decline in his play last year as he enters his age-30 season. Hankins was recently placed on the PUP list to open camp so already Farrell will have an opportunity to earn the starting nose tackle job outright. Farrell is a superior athlete to Hankins at this point in his career and offers pass rush upside while Hankins brings nothing in that regard.

Furthermore, nose tackle is a position that’s highly important for the success of new Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham’s odd front system. In an odd front scheme, you need a nose tackle that has the ability to two-gap and hold guards climbing to the second level to keep the team’s linebackers free. In his last stop with the Giants, Graham had tremendous success with former first-round pick Dexter Lawrence in this same role. While Farrell may not be the same caliber of player as Lawrence, the fact that the Giants invested such early draft capital in a run-defending nose tackle just illustrates how much Graham values the position for this defense. Nose tackle isn’t the sexiest position, but don’t be surprised if Neil Farrell Jr. has a major impact for the Raiders and is a big reason their defense takes a step in the right direction.

Written By

Brentley Weissman