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Khalil Mack Making a Name for Himself


Photo by Tony Gonzales

Khalil Mack was a consistent force on the Oakland Raiders defense, making a case for post-season honors. Mack finishes the season as one of only two defensive rookies to start all 16 games this season and posted 84 tackles (59 solo, 25 assists), four sacks, four passes defensed and one forced fumble, according to official coaches' statistics.

According to Pro Football Focus, Mack was the highest rated 4-3 outside linebacker both overall and in run defense.

Cumulative rating for all 3-4 outside linebackers (Pro Football Focus):

Rank Player PFF Overall Rating

Rank Player Overall Ranking Run Defense Rating
1. Khalil Mack 56.4 47.4
2. Von Miller 55.7 22.0
3. DeAndre Levy 23.4 21.1
4. Thomas Davis 19.6 1.2
5. Brandon M. Marshall 18.9 4.2
6. K.J. Wright 13.0 6.0
7. Lavonte David 10.5 8.0
8. Anthony Barr 9.3 3.5
9. Gerald Hodges 8.5 7.9
10. Lance Briggs 7.6 8.6

According to unofficial press box statistics, Mack has totaled 75 tackles (59 solo)this season. Of those 75 tackles, 52 (69.3%)of them were made for*a loss or within three yards of the line of scrimmage. Of his59 solo tackles, 37 (62.7%) of those have been for a loss or within three yards of the line of scrimmage. *

He was second among defensive players in "stuffs" with 11.5 tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage, according to STATS, INC.

Mack was tied for 10th in tackles for loss in the NFL with 16according to unofficial press box statistics.

Mack was the only rookie named to the 2014 USA Football All-Fundamentals Team, on December 10, 2014, an honor awarded to 26 NFL players who exhibit exemplary football techniques for young players to emulate. The USA Football All-Fundamentals Team was assembled with guidance from a five-person selection committee: Charles Davis, Herm Edwards, Merril Hoge, Carl Peterson, Bill Polian.

Mack was named ESPN's "NFL Live" Midseason Defensive Rookie of the Year on November 4, 2014 and was named to's midseason All-Rookie team on October 28, 2014.

Mack had a standout performance on December 21, 2014, leading a defensive effort that limited the Buffalo Bills to just 13 rushing yards - tied for the third lowest total allowed in Raiders franchise history and the Bills worst rushing performance since 1997. In that game, Mack accounted for one sack, five tackles (2 solo and 4 against the run), with two tackles for loss. He also added five QB pressures, three QB hits and one pass defensed, according to coaches' statistics. Mack's sack and two of his QB pressures came on third down, forcing Bills punts.

Mack led 3-4 outside linebackers in overall run defense rating and is third in total number of defensive stops in run defense with 42, following only Lavonte David (49) and DeAndre Levy (47), according to Pro Football Focus. He has been in on 412 defensive run snaps.Of those 412 snaps, Mack was responsible for the tackle on 10.2 percent of the plays, according to Pro Football Focus.

Mack finishes tied for second in the league in tackles for loss against the run with 11, according to unofficial press box statistics.

Mack finished first on the team in QB pressures with 51 and in QB hits with 25according to official coaches' statistics. According to Pro Football Focus, Mack was second in QB hurries with 40 among 4-3 OLBs, trailing only Von Miller (47).

In Week 14 against the 49ers, Mack recorded his first career multi-sack game becoming one of six NFL rookies, and only one of two rookies drafted in the first four rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft to accomplish the feat this season.

LB Khalil Mack's NFL career is still in its initial stages, but opposing coaches and players are already taking notice. Mack has made an impact both as a run defender and pass rusher. Here are a few things players and coaches around the NFL have had to say about Mack:

"Khalil was definitely a guy that we thought was an instinctive player, an explosive player, a guy that we felt like his bestfootball was ahead of him, because we felt like this is a guy that can really rush the passer and also probably drop into pass coverage, be a second-level defender. That's what we see on tape, he's a really good football player." - Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien, Sept. 10, 2014

"No. 52 [Khalil Mack] is a phenomenal player. He's a great pass rusher, but he's really good in the run game. We knew it was going to be a challenge." - Cardinals QB Carson Palmer, Oct. 19, 2014

"He was a guy that was definitely highly rated on our board. We thought a lot of him coming out. And sometimes you don't necessarily get the sack production and people can be fooled by that. We look at the effectiveness of a rusher –how much they're affecting the quarterback. They might not be getting the finish, they might be causing production for somebody else." - Browns Head Coach Mike Pettine, Oct. 22, 2014

"Talking to the guys in the locker room, he gained the respect of everybody on our team. That guy 52, Khalil Mack, is one of the best players we've gone against this year and that's a unanimous decision in that locker room. He gained all of our respect, and we knew coming in he was going to be a tough player." - Browns QB Brian Hoyer, Oct. 26, 2014

"He's a rookie, but you wouldn't think that by the way he's been playing. When you look at him on film, he attacks the line and he's aggressive. He makes plays." - Browns RB Terrance West, Oct. 26, 2014

"I think he's really good. He jumps off the film. Every one of our coaches, when they break up and start looking at the Raiders and taking seriously what they're doing well, everybody comes back talking about him. He's almost unblockable and he's got a great motor. He's fast, he's tough, he's instinctive. We think he's an obvious factor." - Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll, Oct. 29, 2014

"I think he is going to be one of the most complete, dominant linebackers we've ever seen. He is just a phenomenal football player. I've never seen a linebacker make this type of easy transition to the NFL." – ESPN Analyst and former NFL RB Merril Hoge, Nov. 4, 2014

"He's super talented, a big physical guy and he plays hard. He's everything you're looking for in a hybrid ... defensive end. The stats might not show it, but he's making a huge impact in the run game. He kind of reminds me of Clay Matthews the way he plays — smash-mouth. He's a physical guy and he'll try to overpower you with his strength. But he's also developing counter moves as the season goes along, so he's not just a one-trick guy. He's a big challenge." - 49ers T Joe Staley, Dec. 5, 2014

"Every week, one of the teams I watch early on is the Raider defense. And the reason I want to watch is Khalil Mack. He's not just one of the best rookies to come out, he's the best linebacker in the National Football League, and he is the best against the run." - ESPN Analyst and former NFL RB Merril Hoge, Dec. 14, 2014

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