Heading into the 2014 NFL Draft, there were many folks – including myself – who believed that Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack was the best player of the class. On Thursday evening, the Oakland Raiders watched him fall into their laps at No. 5, effectively landing the steal of the draft.
On tape, there aren’t many players better than Mack. On top of being a tremendous athlete with outstanding speed and agility, the Buffalo product is simply a playmaker – and an elite one at that. All you have to do is put on film of his game against Ohio State to see the types of game-changing plays that Mack can make. He’s a polished technician who uses his hands well, knows how to separate from blockers, and is relentless in pass rush.
Now in Oakland, he’ll likely slide into one of the starting roles along the Raiders’ 4-3 linebacking corps. Kevin Burnett is entrenched as a starter, but could bump inside and take over as the starting middle linebacker. Mack could also force 2013 third-rounder Sio Moore to the bench despite his strong showing as a rookie.
Put simply, it won’t be a redshirt year for Mack.
Either way, the Raiders will surely want to get him involved early and often. Whether he’s rushing the passer in a Von Miller role or dropping into coverage, he’s sure to be a big-time playmaker in Oakland, even as a rookie.
It’s a huge surprise to see such an elite talent slide all the way to No. 5, but the Raiders are definitely happy it happened. They got arguably the biggest steal of the 2014 NFL Draft, and will certainly see the benefits into the not-so-distant future.
Mack is going to be a star in the NFL. Now the Raiders get to sit back and reap the rewards.