Oakland Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack admitted this weekend that he needs to turn up his game in Week 3 of the preseason. Perhaps being on the same field as a player he has been often compared to will help.
Mack, the Raiders' No. 5 overall draft pick in May, has been frequently compared to Green Bay Packers star outside linebacker Clay Matthews. The comparisons make sense. Both are superior athletes with high motors who fight to the end of the whistle to get to the quarterback. Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie, who selected Mack, was in Green Bay with Matthews, so he clearly recognized some of the similarities.
McKenzie and the Raiders' brass are hoping Mack can make an impact Friday night against Matthews' Packers in the pivotal third preseason game. Mack, who played extensively against Detroit in Week 2, hasn't made much of a lasting impression yet.
I wouldn't take that as a sign of worry as the rookie is still making major adjustments from small-school Buffalo. I'd expect Mack to make an impact very early in his NFL career.
The Raiders would love Mack to have a similar rookie season, much like the one Matthews had. He had 51 tackles and 10 sacks for Green Bay in 2009. ESPN analyst Matt Williamson sees the similarities and thinks Mack could excel early.
"I love Mack," Williamson said. "Clay is a good comparison. Extreme athlete who plays very hard and is a great prospect versus the run and rushing the passer as well as some already strong coverage skills.”
It will be fun to see the comparison unfold at Lambeau Field on Friday night (8 ET).