Khalil Mack was selected by the Oakland Raiders with the No. 5 pick on the first day of the NFL Draft Thursday night. Despite the fact that many analysts thought that the Raiders were going to pick a quarterback in the first round, Mack turned out to be the star candidate and should fulfill a hole that is very much needed for the Silver and Black squad.
The linebacker from Buffalo is the type of pass rusher the Raiders have been looking for due to the fact that the AFC West division is filled with competitive quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning from the Denver Broncos, Philip Rivers from the San Diego Chargers, and Alex Smith from the Kansas City Chiefs. Mack had an outstanding senior year with Buffalo and stood as one of the best linebackers with immense strength and speed, which will be highly needed against teams that are in the same division as Oakland.
Khalil Mack was noticed in the early part of the season when Buffalo lost to Ohio St. In that loss, Khalil exploded with 9 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He also had an interception that he returned for a touchdown. Despite the loss, the linebacker showed his abilities and moved up the ranks as the year went by. The Buffalo linebacker finished in second place with the Butkus Award voting. However, Mack won the Jack Lambert award and was honored as one of the best linebackers in the Nation, along with C.J. Mosley from Alabama. Khalil moved up the ranks during his senior year when he finished with 10.5 sacks.
Mack is 6-foot-2 and 251 pounds with the speed and ability to play any linebacker position. His size and weight also give him a huge strength advantage to bring anyone down and that is why the Raiders selected him for their first pick for the draft. At the NFL combine, Khalil topped four of six linebacker prospects. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds. He also did the 20-yard shuttle in 4.18 seconds. Lastly, his vertical jump was 40 inches while his broad jump was 128 inches. Very impressive numbers for a big guy like Mack, which obviously impressed the Oakland Raiders.
Khalil will be joining veteran linebacker LaMarr Woodley who was acquired from free-agency this offseason. Woodley is an ultimate pass rusher who did most of his playing time with the Pittsburgh Steelers and has a Super Bowl ring under his belt. Woodley will be a good leader for Mack and are both considered to be a good boost for the Raiders linebacker team. There is also middle linebacker Nick Roach who should do a good job at showing Khalil the ropes.
Khalil’s addition to the Oakland Raiders is perfect for a team which was bombed with passes last season. General Manager Reggie McKenzie made a good decision with his No. 5 pick by reinforcing the Oakland Raiders with another super pass rusher. With last year’s draft, the first pick for McKenzie was cornerback D.J. Hayden who did not turn out to do too well as a rookie. Maybe this year, Khalil Mack will show and do what is expected of him and make McKenzie look like he knows what he is doing.
Commentary by Jose Herrera