Raiders Khalil Mack continues to build on impressive year

Raiders Khalil Mack continues to build on impressive year

It's only been three years since the Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie drafted defensive end Khalil Mack fifth-overall in the 2014 NFL Draft but he's already made the impact expected of him with such a high pick. 

The third-year player out of the University of Buffalo led the team and finished second in the NFL with 15.0 sacks last season, finishing behind just Texans DE J.J. Watt, who coincidentally won the Defensive Player of the Year Award -- the same award that he's hoping he can snag this season. 

Parts of Raider Nation got nervous when their defensive playmaker only had one sack heading into week six, but head coach Jack Del Rio never worried, and neither did Mack. 

Raiders starting quarterback Derek Carr had lofty predictions for his draft-mate, predicting 30 sacks for the pass rusher before the season started. While it would take a record-setting pace to reach it, Mack has found other ways to make his mark on the Raiders season that is currently at 10-2. 

Since having just one sack heading into Week 6, Mack has tallied up another nine sacks in seven weeks to have a total of 10 with four games left to play. 

Two of the said sacks have been a big part of the Raiders two most recent wins. 

With the Raiders looking to protect a one-score lead against the Panthers last week, Mack beat a triple team to get into the backfield and sack Cam Newton and recover the forced fumble to ice the game. 

This week, it was nearly deja vu. Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor was driving the offense down the field with his team down 38-to-24 when Mack did it again. Mack beat a double team and got to Taylor, stealing the ball out of his hands and allowing the Raiders offense to eat up some more time to win the game. 

This comes after Mack played a big role in helping the Raiders build their lead. With the Bills backed up on their own three-yard line, Mack hit Taylor in his own end zone and forced an errant throw which was picked off by safety Nate Allen on the Bills 16-yard line, setting up another touchdown. 

The three plays are the types of plays his head coach expects out of him, knowing how great he is. 

"Khalil Mack is really making his mark on these ball games," Del Rio said of his star player after Sunday's 38-24 win over the Bills. "That interception that he caused. He just keeps showing up huge and that's what great players do -- he's a great player."

Veteran pass rusher Bruce Irvin, who played with some of the league's best when he spent four years with the Seattle Seahawks before joining the Raiders this offseason, shares the high praise for Mack.

"It speaks for itself," Irvin said of Mack Sunday. "The guy is a walking Hall-of-Famer. He's the best in the business. I'm blessed to suit up with him week-in, week-out."

With Raider Nation chanting "MVP" after his big plays, Mack had to take a look around to see who had entered the stadium. 

"Was Steph Curry here?" Mack said laughingly when asked about the chants. "Man, I just got to keep balling out there and making plays."

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