The Oakland Raiders brass including general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen had a hard time containing their excitement with the selection of linebacker Khalil Mack with the team's first round choice in the 2014 NFL Draft. It was a player they had eyes on for some time and hoped he would be a possibility.
“We are very excited with our first pick,” McKenzie said. “It was a guy that we had targeted for quite some time, and it was a guy that we are very excited to have. Once Khalil fell to us, we had a couple of calls. At that point, I wasn’t taking any.”
After the smiles fade and the business begins, the Raiders are going to have an impact player to build with on defense. Mack is a pass rusher which is something the Raiders made priority number one this offseason. The team already added defensive ends Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, and Antonio Smith via free agency. Now Mack can bolster a defense that accounted for 38 sacks in 2013.
“When we started this process, we were totally clear on the fact that we wanted to add some impact players to our football team,” Allen said. “This is an impact player. This guy will have an impact on our football team for the 2014 season, there is no question about that.”
As far as how the Raiders want to use Mack, they did not want to get into specifics, but they are confident Mack can play multiple roles for the Raiders defense. He will be a hand in the dirt pass rusher as well as an outside linebacker who will drop into coverage. That versatility is one of his best attributes. In college, Mack was all over the field with three interceptions in coverage and seven pass defense. Mack also accounted for 10.5 sacks, 19 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles.
“He can do everything that we’re going to ask him to do,” Allen said. “So, we’re excited about the versatility. He is a three-down player. He is going to be able to do a lot of the things that we’re going to ask him to do and have a huge impact on helping this defense and getting this defense where this defense needs to be.”
Head coach Dennis Allen sees the comparisons between Mack and Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller. Allen coached Miller in his rookie season as the defensive coordinator in Denver. Miller had 11.5 sacks that year and backed it up with 18.5 in his second season. That is the type of role the Raiders see for Mack, but with better coverage ability.
“I saw a lot of similarities between him and Von Miller,” Allen said. “I think the thing that really was attractive about Khalil Mack is the fact that he understands how to rush the passer and he understands how to rush the passer with power. I’ve made that statement several times that everything in the National Football League is about affecting the passer. He understands how to rush the passer. Yeah, I see a lot of similarities between he and Von Miller.”
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