Going into the 2014 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders knew they needed to bring aboard an impact player who could start from the get-go. They did exactly that when they drafted Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack, arguably the top talent of the 2014 draft class, with the No. 5 overall pick.
Put simply, the Raiders got an enormous steal when they landed Mack at No. 5.
My top-rated talent of the 2014 NFL Draft, Mack is an elite playmaker who uses smarts, impeccable technique and top-tier athleticism to give opponents headaches. All you have to do is put on the film – specifically his 2013 game against Ohio State – to see the type of impact he can have. Jadeveon Clowney might have more natural ability and athleticism, but Mack is the better football player.
Now with the Raiders, he’ll bring a star-caliber presence to their linebacking unit. More than likely, he’ll push Kevin Burnett to the inside, taking over as the weak-side linebacker in the Oakland defense. While his talents are better suited to the strong side, where he’d be in better position to rush the passer, his overall abilities will allow him to shine anywhere. Whether he’s rushing the passer, stepping up against the run or dropping into coverage, Mack has all of the tools to be a perennial Pro Bowler for the Raiders.
Some will be concerned about his lack of top competition while playing at Buffalo, but the Ohio State game will show that he can make plays against anyone.
The only realistic argument I can see is that outside linebacker was far from the Raiders’ biggest need, but it’s too hard to pass up a talent like Mack. With the Oakland defense in need of some young, energetic playmakers, the Buffalo product makes perfect sense – especially at No. 5.
The Raiders won the first round when they picked Mack.
Final Grade: A+