Between Khalil Mack's rookie season in 2014 and his second season in 2015, he jumped from a lot of a near sacks to a whole lot of actual sacks. A big part of that jump in production was new head coach Jack Del Rio along with defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr making him a pass rusher much more often.
As a result, Mack put up 15.0 sacks last season and became the first player in NFL history to be named All Pro at two different positions -- linebacker and defensive end.
Half of last season Mack had Aldon Smith on the other side, but Smith will be suspended until November of next season, which means he won't return until after week 11. So, the Raiders added Bruce Irvin and their plan is to deploy him very much the same as they did Mack which led to his breakout season.
"We feel like the one area we'd like to use [Irvin] more is the going forward part," Del Rio said at the owners meetings this week per Inside Bay Area. "He's done a lot of coverage. He really is more natural at rushing, but he's been asked to do a lot of coverage and he's done a really nice job for them. Obviously he's been a part of probably the best defense in the league the last four years."
"It was something that Khalil Mack liked last year. Very similarly with Bruce, we'd like to bring him forward more often. The guy's a gifted pass rusher. It's going to be tough to deal with his length and speed on our defense."
Irvin was drafted into the NFL as a defensive end and it was Ken Norton Jr who switched him to linebacker for the Seahawks; a move Irvin said recently saved his career.
"It was a pounding every play (as a defensive end) and then I would be an undersized D-end at 255, 260, so I just felt like playing in more space will allow me to showcase my talents and really help my team." said Irvin.
He and Mack are nearly the exact same size, though Mack thrives at either spot and plays the run extremely well. The Raiders are hoping to have Mack twins on the field. Now there's a fun thought. Unless your an opposing offense, of course.