The Oakland Raiders got their player in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, selecting Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack fifth overall. The pick did not come without suspense as the Buffalo Bills traded up with the Cleveland Browns to select wide receiver Sammy Watkins just ahead of Oakland. That made things very easy for the Raiders. They did not hesitate to add the pass rushing linebacker to a revamped defense.
General manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen wanted Mack all along. They also had eyes for playmaking wide receiver Mike Evans, but Mack made so much sense. Mack provides instant pass rushing help to the Raiders who have struggled to generate one the last two seasons. The 6-3, 250 pound edge rusher amassed 100 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 19 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles in his senior season. He also showed some coverage skills with three interceptions and seven pass defenses. He returned two of the interceptions for touchdowns.
Mack was able to solidify his position as the best linebacker in the 2014 NFL Draft and put himself in conversation for the best defensive players with a solid 2014 NFL Combine. Mack ran a 4.65 forty yard dash to go along with a 4.18 twenty yard shuttle and a 40-inch vertical. He also bench pressed 225 pounds, 23 times. Those numbers show what an athlete Mack is already.
Some people have questioned the fit for Mack in a 4-3 defense because he projects best as a 3-4 outside linebacker. That will be an easy fix for Dennis Allen and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver. That is what coaches do after all. With their free agency moves, the Raiders have already put themselves in position to play more 3-4 and multiple defenses. Mack just gives them more options. The arrow is pointing up on the Oakland defense.
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