After losing Lamarr Houston this offseason via free agency, the Oakland Raiders were looking to add a dynamic playmaker to their defense during the 2014 NFL Draft. They did exactly that when they selected outside linebacker Khalil Mack.
A Buffalo product who slid to the Raiders at No. 5 overall despite possessing top-pick talent, Khalil is expected to immediately start in Oakland. Despite the Raiders’ somewhat-stable situation at linebacker, they simply can’t afford to let Mack’s talents waste away on the bench.
Once training camp gets under way, don’t be surprised to see Mack immediately take over as one of the Raiders’ defensive leaders. On top of being an elite talent and natural playmaker, he’s a top-notch leader who has a knack for rallying the troops with both his words and play. The Raiders already have a veteran leader in Kevin Burnett, but shouldn’t mind having Mack assert himself as the face of the defense early on in his NFL career.
One way or another, the Raiders will find a way to keep Mack on the field for the majority of his rookie season. As OTAs got under way, the first-rounder filled in at SAM backer, pushing sophomore Sio Moore over to the WILL spot, where he’s currently replacing the absent Burnett. Nick Roach is still holding down the MIKE position, but there’s still time to switch things around as OTAs and training camp give the Raiders a better look at their linebacking corps.
Put simply, someone will be losing significant snaps with Mack now in the mix.
Mack brings a smart, instinctive presence to the field for the Raiders. Last season, he wreaked havoc for the Bulls, and should continue to do more of the same with the Silver and Black. Whether he’s rushing the passer, dropping into coverage, or clogging running lanes, expect the No. 5 overall pick to rack up big stats early in Oakland.
The Raiders got a huge steal when they landed Mack. Now all you have to do is sit back and watch the excitement unfold.