Khalil Mack is about to become a star
Oakland Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack was a monster last season, rivaling Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald for the title of best defensive rookie, and proving to be one of the best run defenders in the entire NFL. He has earned plenty of accolades for his first-year performance, including being ranked No. 1 in ESPN’s list of the 25 best NFL players under the age of 25.
But if the preseason is any indication, Mack is going to be even better in Year 2. A lot better.
Mack put together a performance against Arizona in the teams’ Week 3 preseason game in a way we have never seen before.
That isn’t hyperbole. The +11.3 grade he produced in that game was higher than we’ve seen from anyone else at his position in the preseason before.
He was his usual excellent self against the run, but he wreaked havoc on the Arizona offensive line in a way we haven’t seen before, notching a pair of sacks, a hit and five additional hurries over his 50 snaps. The main victim of his trail of devastation was Cardinals right tackle Bradley Sowell, who had an almost matching stat line and grade in the other direction as he was beaten consistently all game long. Mack has been by far the best pass-rusher at his position so far this preseason.
This is a big development, because while Mack was a force against the run as a rookie, he didn’t provide much as a pass-rusher. If he can add this kind of pass-rushing ability to his arsenal as a sophomore, he could become one of the league’s biggest defensive stars.
Mack is capable of causing a lot of problems for an offense. If he carries this form into the regular season, then the AFC West is going to need to call for some reinforcements at offensive tackle.