Raider Nation headed into the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft hoping that a little bit of luck would get them one of the top players projected to land in the top five holding a pick that many considered to be likely too late to land any of the outstanding trio of Jadeveon Clowney, Sammy Watkins, or Buffalo’s Khalil Mack when they went on the clock.
Well the Raiders and general manager Reggie McKenzie got lucky thanks to a questionable third overall selection of UCF’s Blake Bortles by the Jacksonville Jaguars, taking Khalil Mack at No. 5 after the Buffalo Bills made a blockbuster deal with Cleveland to select Watkins with the fourth pick.
After expecting a trade down for months after dropping down last year to select DJ Hayden, McKenzie simply had a player in front of him that was too good to pass up in Mack who leading up to the draft was touted by some to be on the same level as Clowney thanks to his versatility at the outside linebacker role.
Mack who is a 6-3, 251 pound pass rushing linebacker, has all the tools to be a standout player for the Raiders for a long time to come.
Mack’s stats provide him with one of the best backgrounds in the draft, if not as arguably the best pass rusher in college football the past two seasons at small school Buffalo. After a junior season with 94 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks, 2 passes defended and 4 forced fumbles got him on the radar, Mack managed to improve greatly on those numbers as a senior with 100 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, 7 passes defended, 3 interceptions, and 5 forced fumbles to cement his status as the second best defensive player in the draft behind Clowney.
Holding an NCAA record for career tackles for a loss with 75 as well as being a first team All-American, nobody will be doubting Mack as a worthy fifth pick based on his film which was impressive even when leading the massive underdog Bulls against Ohio State in arguably his best performance in college. The next step for Mack will be getting ready for the next level, but for now the Raiders have themselves a potential future franchise linebacker that they have been looking for since the bust of Rolando McClain. At the moment, there is great hope that Mack alongside 2013 pick Sio Moore can become the faces of the Raiders defense for years to come.
Stay tuned to Just Blog Baby all weekend for more analysis and updates on the 2014 NFL Draft.