When the Oakland Raiders spent the No. 5 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft on Khalil Mack, they knew they were getting a stud. However, they might not have known they were getting a perennial Pro Bowler.
Even if they did know, I guarantee you their crazed fan base wasn’t on the same page. Well let me make this clear to any of you Silver and Black diehards out there who need some reassurance on your favorite team’s new linebacker: Mack is a top-tier NFL talent who will bring a new dimension to the Oakland defense.
Look no further than Mack’s 2013 game tape for evidence of his elite ability.
When you put on the film, you see an athletic, instinctive, technically-sound linebacker who flies all over the field making plays. He might not be the most physically-imposing player and he doesn’t have 4.3 speed, but he has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
As a pass rusher, he does a great job of using his hands to keep blockers off of him while putting them in poor position to impede his progress. After either using his athleticism to leave blockers in the dust or simply battling his way past them, Mack hones in on opposing quarterbacks like a heat-seeking missile. Then the technique kicks in, and the Buffalo product devours the passer for yet another sack.
As a run defender, Mack excels at engaging blockers with his arms locked, allowing him to control them until he’s ready to make his move. Once the runner comes into view, he sheds the block and, again, uses excellent technique to wrap them up and haul them to the turf. No matter where he’s attacking from – inside, outside or anywhere in between – Mack uses excellent instincts and read-and-react abilities to put himself in position to stop runners before they can get any momentum going.
Even in coverage, Mack is an excellent asset. Using impeccable awareness, he does a great job of reading the quarterback and adjusting to what’s going on around him. While he isn’t necessarily a ballhawk, he does a great job of keeping receivers within reach and rallying to the ball when it’s thrown short.
Put simply, Mack is everything you look for in a linebacker, and so much more. He creates turnovers with the best of them, and has the athleticism to match with just about any running back or tight end opponents send his way.
The Raiders have spent the last few seasons looking for a dynamic difference-maker on defense, and they finally found one. Mack might not be the five-star stud from an SEC school fans were hoping for, but he’s the playmaker Oakland needed to finally regain some of their former relevance. His talent will lead to a career full of Pro Bowl appearances – expect Mack to earn a trip to Arizona during his rookie campaign.
Sit back and enjoy, Raiders fans. Mack is fireworks incarnate, and you’re in for a show.