Justin Tuck Feels Khalil Mack Can Become All-Time Great


Dec 7, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52), defensive tackle Antonio Smith (94) and defensive end Justin Tuck (91) sack San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) during the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Oakland Raiders defeated the San Francisco 49ers 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Tuck is one of the best outside pass rushers of his generation, winning two Super Bowls as a key factor in New York Giants upsets over Tom Brady’s New England Patriots before coming to the Oakland Raiders during 2014 NFL Free Agency. Four seasons of double digit sack totals with the Giants cementing his status as a New York legend who played alongside NFL Hall of Famer Michael Strahan.

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That resume makes Tuck’s analysis on the game something that people who listen to based on his knowledge of the game, particularly the art of being an outside pass rusher who has done everything there is to accomplish during his NFL career. 65.5 career sacks and two Super Bowl rings more than validating any opinion that Tuck wishes to share with the football world.

So when Tuck talked to Super Bowl media row about his young teammate Khalil Mack, and compared him to Lawrence Taylor along with Derrick Thomas in terms of potential, people listen as the praise of the Raiders veteran is something that grabs headlines. Especially with Tuck comparing Mack to two Hall of Fame greats during Super Bowl week.

“I’ve watched a lot of film on guys like Derrick Thomas, Lawrence Taylor … I’m not saying that he will be that player, I’m saying he’s capable of being that player,” Tuck said last week during Super Bowl media row where he was spending time as a representative of Subway while also doing plenty of interviews. “Believe me, I know what praise I just gave him. I know what category I just potentially put him into. The thing I love about him that people don’t get to see every day is not the fact that he’s an absolute physical specimen. It’s not that. It’s that he’s smart, he understands the game, but he also understands that he doesn’t know it all.”

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Tuck has plenty of reason to point to Mack’s sky high potential, after all he was graded as one of the best outside linebackers in the league per Pro Football Focus in amassing 40 quarterback pressures in addition to being one of the bust run stoppers in the NFL on the outside edge. Working hard to learn as much as possible from Tuck and others every minute, the veteran sees the now second year franchise player for the Raiders as a superstar in the making.

“He comes into meeting rooms, he’ll call me on Friday night before we come in on Saturday to finish everything going into our game and say, ‘I’ve got a question about this,'” Tuck said of Mack’s drive to improve. “From my experiences, guys like that are going to be very successful. I don’t know what success that includes him to be. I don’t know if that’s a Hall of Fame guy. I don’t know if that’s multiple Pro Bowls, I don’t know if that’s just he’s a quality football player. But I know for a fact he’s going to be successful, because barring injury, I have no problem of saying he has the capability to be one of the best defensive players in this league for a long time.”

Raiders fans have high expectations for Mack just like Tuck, and they should because the fifth overall pick out of Buffalo showed that the former recruiting afterthought is one of the best young football talents in the world over the course of his rookie season. Versatile as an outside linebacker and almost unblockable, there are few limits in what Mack can and can’t do. Which is exactly why Justin Tuck sees legendary potential in his teammate and why Raider Nation thinks that Mack can restore the Oakland defense to one of the best in the league in the coming years.