Statistics do not tell the complete story of a player, especially when that player's name is Khalil Mack. Through seven games, the Raiders 2014 first-round pick has still yet to record a sack. But that doesn't tell the whole story.
Going into Sunday's game against the Browns, Mack was the highest rated first-round rookie according to Pro Football Focus. He was also rated the top run stopping linebacker in the NFL. The only defensive player with a better run stop grade is New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
Mack's play has earned him the respect of not just his own teammates, but of opposing teams too.
After a strong performance Sunday in which he had six tackles (4 solo), two for a loss, two quarterback hits and four quarterback pressures, Cleveland Browns starting quarterback Brian Hoyer praised the rookie linebacker.
"[Khalil Mack] gained the respect of everybody on our team," Hoyer said following the game. "That guy is one of the best players we've gone against this year, and that's a unanimous decision in the locker room."
While Mack already had a Pro Football Focus grade of +17.0 coming into the game, that grade has now jumped to +24.0 which is the second highest linebacker grade in the NFL behind only Von Miller (+26.4). And remember how at the beginning of the year, Mack received an 81 overall rating in Madden's original rookie ratings? That number has risen to 87 overall and will likely increase even more after Mack's solid performance Sunday against the Browns.
While the Raiders 2014 season has been a disappointment, Khalil Mack has quietly had a tremendous year. And people outside of Raider Nation are beginning to take notice.