Is it Mack vs. Donald tonight?

The Oakland Raiders had a rough season in 2014, but there’s one thing that they did get right and that was selecting linebacker Khalil Mack at fifth-overall in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Mack played lights out all season long and has a legitimate chance to win the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year tonight when the NFL presents it’s annual “NFL Honors” show.

Fellow rookie linebackers Chris Boreland and C.J. Mosley are tough competition, but it appears that the battle for the award is truly between Mack and St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

Donald looked to be a force in the NFL ever since his freakish combine almost a year ago, but he definitely backed it up on the field.

Donald led all rookies with nine sacks, which was also the most by any first-year player ever. In comparison, Mack finished with just four. To put it in perspective, Donald’s nine sacks were second in the entire NFL for defensive tackles, only behind Pro Bowler Marcell Dareus.

The young St. Louis Rams defensive lineman also recorded 17 tackles for a loss, setting a new NFL record for a rookie defensive lineman. Donald started just 11 games, whereas Mack was inserted into the starting lineup week one, starting all 16 weeks.

Much was made about it taking 11 weeks for the Raiders young linebacker to record his first sack, but it really shouldn’t have. Though he only got to the quarterback for a sack four times, Mack was second in the league with 40 quarterback hurries by a 4-3 outside linebacker. Only Von Miller was ahead of him.

On top of that, opposing offensive lines were focusing a lot on blocking Mack with thh rest of the Raiders pass rush struggling, and Mack was absolutely exceptional against the run.

According to Pro Football Focus’ metrics, Mack was the best 4-3 outside linebacker in the league, both overall (56.4 rating) and in run defense (47.4 rating).

Mack played 412 total defensive run snaps, and made the tackle on an astound 10.2 percent of the plays, according to Pro Football Focus.

According to unofficial press box statistics, Mack totaled 75 tackles (59 solo) this season. Of those 75 tackles, 52 (69.3 percent) of them were made for a loss or within three yards of the line of scrimmage. Of his 59 solo tackles, 37 (62.7 percent) of those were for a loss or within three yards of the line of scrimmage.

The NFL Honors are set to air on Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. PST.


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