Yannick Ngakoue: The Young Journeyman

The 2016 NFL Draft, from the standpoint of defensive linemen, is one of the best in recent memory, as six players from that Draft have recorded at least one season of 10 or more sacks. They are Joey Bosa, DeForest Buckner, Chris Jones, Matthew Judon, Javon Hargrave and Yannick Ngakoue.

Among those six players, Joey Bosa won the 2016-17 NFL Defensive Rookie Of The Year Award and has the highest total (four) of double-digit sack seasons. But he’s missed 30 games in his seven-year career, due to various injuries, thus why he doesn’t have the most career sacks of the six players. Otherwise, he’d probably be on the same trajectory as both Myles Garrett and T.J. Watt, two players that were both drafted one year later.

If those of you reading this entry guessed that Joey Bosa was the career sacks leader of those six players, then I wouldn’t have thought that any of you were crazy, as I would have guessed him as well. Especially considering that the other five players each recorded less than 10 sacks during their rookie seasons, although one of them came close with eight sacks on a three-win Jacksonville Jaguars team. And as to who that player was, well it was Yannick Ngakoue, who is tied with Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones (the only player in this group to have won at least one Super Bowl) for first in that group, with 65 career sacks. But unlike Jones, who had two separate seasons of 15.5 sacks, Ngakoue has amassed at least eight sacks in each of his seven NFL seasons. Plus, he started off the first two seasons of his career forcing fumbles (10) on half of his sacks (20) yet he’s already on his sixth team (Chicago Bears) at just 28 years old, so what gives?

Well for starters, his size (6-2, 246 pounds) makes it very easy for opposing teams to neutralize his pass-rushing prowess via running right at him. Two, his time with the Jaguars ended on a sour note, which could have caused teams to continuously judge him and unfairly at that. And three, he could have been deemed as a player that was unable to fit the scheme of a new defensive coaching staff, i.e. the Las Vegas Raiders in 2022. But still, players of Ngakoue’s consistent sack production are too good to be on six teams in eight seasons. 

I’ve never heard of a professional athlete with Ngakoue’s pass-rushing prowess being a career journeyman at 28 years of age. But I guess there’s a first time for everything. 

Let’s see if Ngakoue will remain with the Bears beyond this upcoming NFL season. Regardless, it should be interesting.