When Ken Norton Jr. and Jack Del Rio first got their hands on this Raider squad in the offseason, they immediately let the Raider faithful know that they would be utilizing Khalil Mack at defensive end and linebacker and with a variety of defensive looks. Some saw this as unnecessary, considering Mack was already one of the best, if not the best outside linebacker in the league.
Turns out, the Raiders' braintrust knew exactly what they were doing. Mack has just made the All-Pro First Team at both outside linebacker and defensive end, making him the first man in the history of football to accomplish such a feat.
J.J. Watt came close to doing it last season, as he was First Team All-Pro at defensive end but Second Team at defensive tackle. Watt therefore was named Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season. Mack has eclipsed that and has made his own strong case for Defensive Player of the Year.
Khalil Mack split his time very evenly between DE and OLB, tallying 506 snaps with his hand in the dirt at end and 514 snaps upright at linebacker. The Raiders constantly shifted him around from left to right, and opposing teams never really knew from which direction Mack would be coming. Nor were they ever really able to stop him. Mack finished with 15 sacks on the season, with a full third of that total coming in his now-legendary game at Denver wherein he terrorized Brock Osweiler.
That dominance at both positions had AP voters giving him votes at both positions. He received 24 votes as a defensive end which was second behind Watt's 50 votes. He also received 17 votes as an outside linebacker which was second behind Von Miller's 41 votes.
Mack's variety of pass-rush moves, including a vicious bull rush to go with a swim move and a spin, were unstoppable despite Mack being held by an offensive lineman at virtually every opportunity. He also totaled 77 tackles, two passes defensed and two forced fumbles which come as no surprise considering Mack is the all-time career NCAA leader in forced fumbles.
While Mack proved his mettle as a pass rusher, he is also arguably the finest edge player against the rush. The Raiders' rush defense finished the year ranked 13th overall, but huge games from DeAngelo Williams and Adrian Peterson skewed that total heavily. Most teams were never able to get their running games going against the Raiders and Khalil Mack was a huge part of that. Pro Football Focus has Mack graded as the very best edge rusher in football (+95.8), let alone the best against the rush, and named him to their All Pro team as an "Edge rusher".
Mack becomes the Raiders' first All Pro since Shane Lechler and Nnamdi Asomugha made the team in 2010. And he did it in historic fashion. Now we wait to see if he can parlay this into being named Defensive Player of the Year.