Oakland Raiders rookie Khalil Mack looks headed for a big year, and I’m not about to hold up the hype train before it leaves the station. Mack has it all in front of him to put up big numbers as a rookie, as he’s filling out a Von Miller role in the Raiders defense behind a talented, veteran defensive line that features newcomers Antonio Smith, Justin Tuck, and LaMarr Woodley. Sio Moore and Mack should combine to form a dangerous outside linebacker duo in Oakland, as both are stout run defenders who can bring the heat as pass rushers when asked to. Mack’s pass rushing ability, motor, and run defense should all be on display, as he was one of the elite prospects in a deep 2014 NFL Draft class.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Vic Tafur, Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie stated that Mack has reminded him of Green Bay Packers star outside linebacker Clay Matthews. He said, “He’s reminded me of Clay Matthews from Day 1. He’s one of those guys that knows how to set the edge, and he has length and power and some tools to rush the passer.
“He’s got that first step, he can bend, he’s relentless.”
“Relentless” is direct praise for Mack’s motor, and Matthews is also known for his motor, run defense, and elite pass rushing play. It isn’t far-fetched to think that Mack could have a similarly huge rookie season as Matthews and, to a great extent, Miller did, and I wonder if he’ll benefit more from having better players around him in the NFL than the fiercer competition will hurt him.