Bay Area Sports: Ranking the Top 30 Players

18 of 31

November 1, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack (52) tackles New York Jets running back Chris Ivory (33) during the first quarter at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

#14 – Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders

The Raiders’ first pick, fifth overall, in the 2014 draft was Khalil Mack, an outside linebacker out of Buffalo. Mack was a dominant pass-rusher with the Bulls, racking up 28.5 sacks in four years, the second-most in Mid-American Conference history. His 74 total tackles for loss are the most in the NCAA since 2005.

In the pros, Mack didn’t rack up sack numbers like he had in college, but he was an extremely effective defender in other areas. He totaled four sacks as a rookie, but was second in the NFL in pressures among outside linebackers, as his 52 ranked only behind Von Miller. Among outside linebackers in a 4-3 defense, Mack was the highest-graded by Pro Football Focus, and by far the best against the run.

He’s picked up his game in year two, as he has five sacks in 10 games to lead the Raiders, and is still a phenomenal run stopper. He’s in a new position, as he’s playing a lot of defensive end, but he’s still the third-rated overall edge defender, behind only Cameron Jordan and Justin Houston, and is still the top-rated edge defender against the run.

Mack has quickly become a disruptive presence in the Raiders’ front seven, and if the secondary were a little better, he could probably be piling up more sacks. With a soft secondary behind him, quarterbacks can get the ball out quickly, keeping Mack at bay for a short time. Despite that, Mack is still making his presence felt, and should be doing so for a long time to come.

Next: Silver and Gold