In his introductory press conference, Raiders fifth overall pick Khalil Mack said he wanted to don the number 52. At the time it wasn't made official and Mack wasn't even completely sure he would get the number, he just said "I'm leaning towards number 52."
The Raiders made it official today. Shortly after the team signed Mack to a rookie contract, they announced he will indeed don the number 52. They tweeted out a picture of Mack in his new number 52 jersey.
Mack wore the number 46 in college. His reasoning behind wearing the number was that was his college grade from EA Sports NCAA football when he was recruited to Buffalo. He wanted to wear it on his chest and prove to everyone he was better than that.
As a pro, he can't have the number 46 because neither outside linebackers nor defensive ends can wear numbers in the 40s. He chose number 52 because that's the number that Ray Lewis wore in his Hall of Fame worthy career with the Baltimore Ravens.
The number was free as no raiders were assigned it last season. The last player for the Raiders to wear the number 52 was Phillip Wheeler in 2012. Other notable Raiders to don the number 52 for the Raiders include Mike Jones (1991-96), and Kirk Morrison (2005-09).