After a standout career at the University at Buffalo, linebacker Khalil Mack was taken by the Oakland Raiders with the fifth pick in Round 1 of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Considered by many to be the most versatile defensive player in this year's Draft class, and the consensus top outside linebacker, Mack may be the most sure thing in this Draft class. He doesn't have the limitless upside of Jadeveon Clowney, but he's also more versatile, and there's fewer knocks against him.
While some people harped on the lack of elite competition Mack faced playing in the Mid-American Conference, he routinely put together great games against Power 5 conference schools when he got his chance. Mack destroyed Ohio State in the 2013 season opener. He tallied nine tackles, 2.5 sacks, and an interception returned for a touchdown and destroyed Braxton Miller's Heisman candidacy in the process.
In his five seasons at Buffalo (he redshirted his freshman year) the former 2-star prospect flourished into a defensive monster. He holds the NCAA career record for forced fumbles (16), and is tied for the career lead in tackles for loss (75). The 2014 Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year had 327 career tackles, and 18.5 career sacks for the Bulls. He was also named First Team All-MAC three times while at Buffalo.
Mack flourished at the NFL Combine, where he backed up his impressive NCAA career with a stellar athletic showing.
More On Mack
More On Mack
ARM LENGTH: 33 1/4''
BENCH: 23 Reps
40 TIME: 4.65 sec (improved to 4.55 at his Pro Day)
20 YARD SHUTTLE: 4.18 sec
BROAD JUMP: 128''
An excellent 3-4 outside linebacker, Mack's strengths are his natural instincts, excellent speed, and ability in space. Mack is versatile (due to necessity while playing at Buffalo where he had to do a bit of everything) and is a powerful player with amazing athleticism. He's an excellent pass rusher, with great strength and explosiveness. He's a run-stuffer, and can drop back into coverage and hold his own. He'll be best used in a hybrid role, primarily playing as a traditional outside linebacker, but occasionally putting his hand in the dirt on the line of scrimmage. He compares well to Brian Orakpo.
Mack also plays with a huge chip on his shoulder. Buffalo was his only FBS offer coming out of high school, and he wore the No. 46 at UB because that was the ranking EA Sports' NCAA Football franchise gave him as a freshman.
Mack does need to develop a secondary pass rush move, as he can get clogged up in blocks if his bull rush doesn't work. While he's a solid coverage guy, who excelles in space, sometimes his tackling fundamentals break down out in the open. But he's an extremely coachable player, who only began playing football competitively as a junior in high school, and has all the makings of an NFL All-Pro.
With his work ethic, he should be producing at an elite level in no time at all.