Originally published on Silver & Black Report on May 8, 2014
The long wait to see who the Raiders would select finally came to an end on Thursday night with the Raiders ultimately selecting linebacker Khalil Mack out of the University of Buffalo.
Mack is an extremely versatile linebacker that will bring his explosiveness to a Raiders defense that struggled last season, giving up 363.7 yards per game (22nd in NFL), 28.3 points per game (29th), and just 38.0 sacks (18th).
The Houston Texans believed to be looking to trade the first-overall selection but ultimately held on to the pick and selected standout defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
The St. Louis Rams then did exactly what most expected to do when they took offensive tackle Greg Robinson with their second pick.
The real shakeup happened with the Jacksonville Jaguars selected quarterback Black Bortles with the third-overall pick. This meant that the Raiders would either have a choice of linebacker Khalil Mack or wide receiver Sammy Watkins when they select.
The 2014 NFL Draft saw its first trade of the day early when the Buffalo Bills traded up from nine to four to steal Watkins away from the Raiders just one pick in front of them, but leaving Mack available for them.
The Raiders wasted little time in taking the versatile linebacker as he was likely the guy they were targeting all along. While the Raiders would have liked to trade down and accumulate additional picks, Mack is just too good of a prospect to pass up on.
Not only is Mack a solid player, but he also fills a hole on a team with many deficiencies on the roster.
The Raiders struggled applying pressure on the quarterback last year and Mack will help assist with that. Mack finished with 10.5 sacks for Buffalo last season in 13 games. Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston led the Raiders last season with just 6.0 sacks.
Mack is also extremely versatile, something head coach Dennis Allen and Jason Tarver appreciate. The coaches will be able to move him around and put him in the best situations to succeed. In total, Mack accumulated 100 tackles (19 for a loss), the 10.5 sacks, seven pass breakups, three interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) and five forced fumbles in 13 games last season.
One thing that remains to be seen is how the Raiders will incorporate last year’s rookie strongside linebacker Sio Moore with Mack on the field as well. One possibility is to move Moore over to the weakside, or do the same for Mack. Like Moore, Mack has solid coverage skills and uses loose hips to stick with intended receivers. This question will likely be answered quickly when the team gets on the field as a (relatively) whole in Offseason Team Activities.
While he played easier opponents while at Buffalo, the tape shows that Mack is explosive and will only make the Raiders defense better.
Mack has some great leaders and football players to learn from in the locker room in Charles Woodson, Antonio Smith, Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley and more, something that will only be beneficial to a young linebacker with his talent.