Despite having one of the worst defenses in the NFL, the Oakland Raiders may have the best defensive player in outside linebacker slash defensive end Khalil Mack. While Derek Carr was getting most of the attention thanks to his gritty play and beautiful two-point conversion chucks, Mack – the fifth pick in the 2014 NFL Draft out of normally unheralded SUNY Buffalo – was single-handedly destroying opposing offenses to the tune of 11 sacks and five forced fumbles.
The first NFL player to be named AP All-Pro at two positions, Mack is sculpting quite the solo-artist legacy for himself – and not in a selfish way. Most opponents don’t even know what position Mack plays, considering he rushes the quarterback, stoutly plays the run, drops into coverage, contains the edge, makes a pot of tea, and does laundry. Expect a hefty contract extension soon.
And while his numbers are elite, it’s Mack’s impact away from statistics that deserves recognition. The guy is constantly battling double-and-triple teams on a talentless Raiders defense that also missed Raiders inside lineman Mario Edwards Jr. all season, yet still manages to tally 26 sacks in the past two seasons. Pro Football Focus did an intriguing comparison between Mack and last year’s Super Bowl MVP, Von Miller – which also helps us understand what makes a great edge rush.
Realistically, both Miller and Mack were pass-rushing forces in 2015, but Mack was the better run defender of the two, and therefore finished the year with the top overall grade among all edge defenders: 95.9 to Miller’s 93.2. That was also the second-best overall grade we have given to any edge defender over a season over the past decade—second only to Robert Quinn’s ludicrous 2013 season.
Khalil Mack just has that innate ability to disrupt any attempted movement of the pigskin. I’ve picked out five specific scenarios where Mack is simply superior to his competition.
Unloading on Denver Broncos tackle Ryan Harris with pure brute force.
Destroying the lowly Cleveland Browns for a quick little seven-yard loss.
Another power move.
Then a Cam Newton-crushing pick-6.
But can he dab better than Cam Newton?
Yep. Defensive Most Valuable Player? Probably. Legend in the making? Absolutely.
We love you, Khalil Mack.