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Las Vegas Raiders select Buffalo DE/OLB Malcolm Koonce with 79th pick of 2021 NFL Draft

The Raiders go to familiar territory to find their next outside linebacker, selecting Koonce in the third round.

MAC Football Championship - Ball State v Buffalo Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Malcolm Koonce, a native of Peeksill, New York, will make his professional home in Sin City, as the Buffalo edge rusher was selected by the Las Vegas Raiders with the 79th overall seelction in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Koonce is the second Mid-American Conference player off the board, following D’wayne Eskridge’s selection earlier Friday night. Koonce also becomes the first Buffalo Bull drafted since tight end Mason Schreck (251st overall) in 2017.

Koonce was a prolific pass rusher in his Bulls career, picking up eight sacks in 2019 and five sacks in the abbreviated 2020 season, finishing his career with 109 total tackles (62 solo, 47 assisted), 22.5 tackles-for-loss and 17 sacks over four seasons. twice earning first-team all-MAC defensive honors (2019 and 2020.)

Koonce will certainly be a familiar feeling player for many Raiders fans, as he is of a similar build and mold of the Raiders’ former Top 5 draft pick (and Buffalo Bull) Khalil Mack. (Coincidentally, Koonce is the highest UB player selected since Mack’s selection in 2014.) Mack eventually settled into an outside linebacker role in the pros, and that’s likely where Koonce projects as well, despite the majority of his collegiate snaps being at defensive end.

Koonce will be part of a rebuilding Raiders defense that has some wily veteran presences, including new arrivals in Yanick Ngakoue, Corey Littleton and Nick Kwitatkowski at the linebacker positions. Koonce could also see some time at the edge alongside former MAC star Maxx Crosby as well, should the Raiders choose to move him around.

It could take Koonce a bit to get acclimated to Las Vegas’ defense, as he’ll be healing from a broken metatarsal in his foot, an injury he picked up prior to Buffalo’s Pro Day workouts in March.

In Koonce, the Raiders will be picking up a disruptive presence on the edge who is not only good at finding the lanes to get into the backfield, but also has the speed to cover the sidelines whenever necessary. Koonce will likely get his start on special teams, and could also see some time in the linebacker rotation in the preseason to fight for a backup role to either Ngakoue or Littleton moving forward.

For our more detailed analysis of Koonce, check out our draft profile from earlier this week.