|ESPN.com: NFL Draft 2014||[Print without images]|
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders, looking for a high-motor defensive player to pressure opposing quarterbacks, selected pass-rusher Khalil Mack with the No. 5 overall pick in the NFL draft.
"The thing that really was attractive about Khalil Mack was the fact that he understands how to rush the passer," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "And he understands how to rush the passer with power."
The Raiders got only 12 sacks using a four-man pass rush last season -- four fewer than any other NFL team -- according to ESPN Stats & Information.
The outside linebacker out of Buffalo was the 2013 MAC Defensive Player of the Year, but Mack made people take notice with nine tackles, 2.5 sacks and an interception in the season opener against Ohio State.
"It had to do very well for my stock," Mack said of the Ohio State game in a conference call with reporters Thursday evening. "But even then, I played against top competition even before Ohio State. Just knowing the stage it was on and knowing it was the first game of the year, knowing that they were ranked so high ... man, it benefited me a lot."
This guy will have an impact on our football team for the 2014 season. There's no question about that.” -- Raiders coach Dennis Allen,
on first-round pick Khalil Mack
Mack, a Butkus Award finalist and a consensus first-team All-American, completed the season with 10.5 sacks among his 94 tackles and also nabbed three interceptions. The former high school basketball player possesses excellent athleticism for his 6-foot-3, 248-pound frame. ESPN's Todd McShay called him "an impactful, versatile defender, as he can excel as a pass-rusher and also hold up in pass coverage and against the run."
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Mack's 75 career tackles for loss are most in FBS since the stat was first tracked nationwide in 2000.
"When we started this process, we were totally clear that we wanted to add some impact players to our football team," Allen said. "This is an impact player. This guy will have an impact on our football team for the 2014 season. There's no question about that.
"As we continued to go throughout the process, we fell more in love with the player every time we had an exposure to him."
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie would not say if Mack was the No. 1 player on his board, but he did say there was no "back and forth" in the Raiders' draft room.
"We knew who we wanted," McKenzie said. "He's a football player, and I think he's the total package."
Still, it appeared as though the Raiders might miss out on Mack when the Buffalo Bills traded ahead of Oakland at No. 3. What if the Bills had chosen to keep the hometown college star?
"I was like, 'Yo, I've got a lease right now up in Buffalo'," he said while laughing. "I might be keeping it. Yeah, man. That's crazy."
And his thoughts on the Raiders?
"I know the Oakland Raiders are nasty, man. They like to play nasty," he said. "I'm a football player that likes to get in there and be a little nasty. But in a good way."