ALAMEDA — Nasty Football. Hitting somebody, it doesn’t matter who it is. Khalil Mack wants to hit anybody that has the ball, and he’s done talking about it.
The Raiders took Mack with the fifth overall pick in Thursday’s 2014 NFL Draft. Coming out Buffalo in the Mid American Conference, Mack vaulted himself with excellent play in about every college game he played.
Mack has a simple take on the Raiders:
“I know the Oakland Raiders play nasty. I’m a football player that likes to get in there and get nasty in a good way.”
Sounds like a match made in heaven. Or a dark, maybe black, hole.
Mack recorded 10.5 sacks in 2013, with another 100 tackles — 19 for a loss.
That’s what made general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen so certain that he was the guy. His tape, filled with ferocity and a relentless motor, was just about all the two needed to see.
But there was high praise in other areas as well from McKenzie:
“Off the field, (Mack) is A-1. There were no concerns about him at all. … He’s a man.”
Mack leads active major college players in tackle-for-loss and caused fumble. His average of 1.56 tackles-for-loss ranks ninth in NCAA history. He also recorded 62 solo tackles behind the line of scrimmage tops among active players.
Mack is on just about every list a defensive player could ever want to be. And coach Allen says Mack reminds him of another player he used to coach:
“I saw a lot of similarities between him and Von Miller. 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.”
“… everything in the National Football League is about affecting the passer, whether it be offensively with weapons or whether it be defensively getting after the passer. He understands how to rush the passer.”
The Raiders plan to Mack him a variety of ways, really, anyway they can. Oakland added Lamarr Woodley, Justin Tuck and Antonio Smith in the offseason, all pass rushing specialists.
Because of that, Allen said he was uncertain of Mack’s exact role. But Mack laughed gleefully as he was reminded that he’ll be playing alongside Tuck:
“Justin Tuck, how about that? Getting a chance to play with him is a blessing. He’s the best at what he does and I can learn from him. I can’t tell you how excited I am.”
On paper, Oakland is developing quite the pass rush. They drafted Sio Moore in the third round last year and he proceeded to sack the quarterback 4.5 times while only a half-time rusher.
They’ll need it while facing rugged NFC West teams four times this season, but McKenzie isn’t drafting for the “right now.” He’s drafting with an eye on the future.
Mack was the top 4-3 outside linebacker on the SFBay big board.
Oakland holds two picks Friday, the 36th overall (second round) and the 67th pick (third round), and could continue to add more rushers.
Thursday’s first round began with pass rusher Jadaveon Clowney and ended with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater selected by the Vikings.
There were also five offensive tackles drafted in the first round, illustrating heavy emphasis on protecting the quarterback.
17 of the first 32 picks, just over half, were either quarterbacks or linemen. There were six pass-catchers draft, being led by Sammy Watkins, who went to Buffalo.
Of the rest, eight were cornerbacks or safeties, with one middle linebacker.