Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals Preview: Key Matchups

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Oct 19, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52) encourages the crowd to cheer during a break in the action against the Arizona Cardinals in the second quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Khalil Mack vs. Jared Veldheer

Khalil Mack, former fifth overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, is easily one of the most talked about players on the Raiders’ roster, but there still are some questions revolving around his production.

In 2014 Mack accumulated 75 combined tackles and four sacks as a rookie, and although he was nearly unstoppable against the run, Oakland is relying on him to be their premier pass rusher for their defense. The former University of Buffalo edge-rusher will now be moving down to play defensive end within defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.’s scheme, as he plans to send him after the quarterback more frequently in 2015.

In Oakland’s Week 3 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals Mack will be going up against former left tackle for the Raiders Jared Veldheer. The former third-round pick for Oakland signed a five-year $35 million contract with Arizona in 2014.

“The offseason acquisition of Jared Veldheer (+16.5) has proven to be a big hit. The former Raider has given them the kind of security at left tackle that predates the PFF era,” via Khaled Elsayed of ProFootballFocus.com.

Although Mack has already developed into a destructive force on the defensive side of the ball, he will need to prove he can create pressure on the quarterback against top-level offensive linemen before he is placed among the elite. Veldheer will serve as a good test for Mack before the regular season, as he has already proven he can play at a high-level, and he will most likely be playing harder against the team that let him leave via free agency before last season.