The Las Vegas Raiders selected UB defensive end Malcolm Koonce with the 79th overall pick (third round) of the 2021 NFL Draft Friday night.
Koonce is the highest-drafted UB player since Khalil Mack, who was taken fifth overall by the Raiders (then the Oakland Raiders) in the 2014 Draft.
The Peekskill, NY native was projected by many draft analysts — who cited Koonce’s long arms and natural pass rush ability — as a day two or three draft pick. In a recent mock draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. projected Koonce to be picked as high as No. 41 overall.
Koonce, a Reece’s Senior Bowl invitee, earned back-to-back first-team All-MAC honors in 2019 and 2020, recording 30 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and five sacks in just six games for UB last season.
In his breakout 2019 campaign, Koonce led the Mid-American Conference with nine sacks and was named Defensive MVP of the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl after recording five tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble against Charlotte, helping UB win its first bowl game in program history.
Koonce’s 17 career sacks rank seventh all-time in UB history.
As pass-rushing is placed at a premium in the NFL, Koonce’s performance in his final two seasons proved crucial for his draft stock.
Statistically, the Raiders had one of the worst defenses in football last season. The Silver and Black ranked No. 30 in team defense, giving up just under 30 points per game.
Las Vegas adds a dynamic pass rusher that looks to make an instant impact in defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s scheme.
Hunter Skoczylas is the assistant sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @HunterSkoczylas
Hunter Skoczylas is the assistant sports editor for The Spectrum. In his free time, he can be found looking up random sports statistics, posting memes on Twitter, and dedicating his Sunday afternoons to watching the Buffalo Bills.