How Can Khalil Mack Win Rookie of the Year?


Jun 17, 2014; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack (52) at minicamp at Raiders Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the award he wants most and Khalil Mack isn’t afraid to go after it.  What must he do to win the Rookie of the Year for the Oakland Raiders?

Pick brains of Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley

It sounds cliché in a league that has grown so familiar but the truth remain.  The best thing Mack can do for himself as far as succeeding at the NFL level is to get in the heads of the guys who have seen it and done it there.  That means sitting in the hip pockets of veteran pass rushers Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley.  Both have been to Pro Bowls.  Both have topped double digit sacks multiple times and both have Super Bowl rings.  If Mack wants to know what it’s like to be among the best, he needs every piece of knowledge he can soak up about the kind of work, commitment and intelligence it will take.  Tuck and Woodley can show him the way.

Amass at least 10 sacks, including a high-profile one

Getting noticed on the defensive side of the ball means making impact plays in the key categories.  For defensive backs it’s interceptions.  For a pass rusher, it’s all about sacks.  If Khalil Mack wants to realize his goal of winning Rookie of the Year he will have to do what he did in college, which is sack quarterbacks.  To realistically lock up the award, 10 sacks is the bench mark to shoot for, but it can’t just be garbage sacks either.  Mack will need a high-profile one at some point, be on national television or more likely of a prominent quarterback.  His desire to bring down future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning would qualify.  He will also see the likes of Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson, and Colin Kaepernick too.

Trust Oakland Raiders coaches but also improvise

One thing about being a rookie player in the NFL is they want to do everything exactly right, exactly as the coaches draw them up on the board.  So when they go out on the field, they execute the play as they were instructed.  They don’t take chances or trust their instincts like veterans do.  Khalil Mack won’t be any exception.  He will trust the Oakland Raiders coaching staff to use him right.  Not that it’s a bad thing.  Head coach Dennis Allen and his subordinates know what they’re doing.  However, if he’s going to excel quickly, Mack will have to learn to trust what he sees rather than fall back on the play call.  Such is how impact plays are usually made.