There were few people in this world more excited on the first day of the draft than Raiders' defensive coordinator, Jason Tarver. The former outside linebackers coach watched as his team added the most dynamic outside linebacker prospect in the 2014 draft last week.
Khalil Mack was easily the most flawless defensive player in this year's draft. He can rush the passer and drop back into coverage on top of having an unquestionably stellar character and work ethic. As Reggie McKenzie put it "he is the total package."
And the always passionate and energetic Tarver was on another level of excitement when he was handed the ideal outside linebacker for his defense. He was the first person to greet Mack when he arrived at the facility last Friday. Tarver was posted up outside to shake Mack's hand when he got out of his vehicle.
"We liked the position flexibility of his play," Tarver told 95.7 The Game Thursday. "And for Khalil, when you're looking for players that are impact players on the edges of an NFL defense, some people align in a more 3-4 front, some more 4-3, but with Khalil the first thing that he does is he's a power rusher with the ability to bend. So, pass rush is number one when he's playing outside linebacker and when he's playing with his hand in the dirt. That's gonna be his main function is to set edges in the run game and get after the quarterback. And that's what he does best. He also the ability or enough ability to flip and move and run in space that when we do want to or need to drop him into coverage. But we like his play moving forward."
Following the selection of Mack in the first round, Dennis Allen said the Raiders plan to use him a lot like the Broncos used Von Miller. They drafted Miller with the second overall pick the one season Allen was the Broncos' defensive coordinator. Miller has played in multiple schemes with the Broncos and has been one of the best pass rushers in the NFL in his three seasons.
Allen sees the same pass rushing abilities and versatility in Mack.
"He can do everything that we're going to ask him to do," said Allen. "So, we're excited about the versatility. He is a three-down player. He is going to be able to do a lot of the things that we're going to ask him to do and have a huge impact on helping this defense and getting this defense where this defense needs to be."
The Raiders and Mack struck a deal today as the team heads into rookie minicamp. The top deals in the draft are usually not too hard to do because they are fully guaranteed. They approached his contract with the same urgency as they did handing in their card on draft day when Reggie McKenzie said "There was zero back and forth. We knew who we wanted."
Teams often say they are excited to have gotten the player they wanted, but I can't recall the last time it was this genuine across the board. Everyone expects big things. Not the least of whom is Jason "The mad chemist" Tarver.