You already knew who No. 1 was going to be anyway, right? No doubt it is franchise cornerstone pass rusher Khalil Mack coming off the edge. Mack is coming off his second All-Pro season and was the 2016 NFL AP Defensive Player of the Year. His prime is going to unfold most amazingly for the Silver and Black.
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In 2016, Mack had 54 tackles, 19 assists, 11.0 quarterback sacks, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, three passes defended and an interception.
Those numbers are great, but don’t tell the entire story of how terrific of a year Mack had for the 2016 Raiders. That’s where Pro Football Focus comes into play.
Mack was by far and away the best edge player PFF graded last year at a ridiculous 95.2. He had the best pass rushing grade at 92.4 and the fourth-best run stopping grade at 91.6.
In essence, it is mathematically impossible for opposing offensive coordinators to scheme him off the field for extended stretches. They’ll just have to deal with The Mack when trying to score on the Silver and Black. Good luck with that.
While his coverage grade of 61.8 isn’t great, do keep in mind that’s not what Mack does nor really most high-end edge players. When the quarterback drops back to pass, their job is to get after the quarterback and not drop back into coverage on the rare occasion.
Mack has proven to be one of the best in the business at moving forward off the edge. It’s no surprise that he was this highly touted coming out of Buffalo in the 2014 NFL Draft. Oakland’s defense still has a way to go to be championship caliber. However, the Raiders already have one superstar on that side of the field. It’s a luxury few teams can say that they have with great honesty.