We are 52 days from the start of the Raiders 2017 season. That’s when number 52, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, takes the field once again to defend his title. You guys tired of talking about this guy? Didn’t think so.
LB Khalil Mack
Chosen with the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft, Mack took the NFL by storm and hasn’t stopped since. Since day one, he has easily been the Raiders best defender and probably the best player on the entire team.
The number Mack chose to wear means something to him. He chose 46 in college at Buffalo because that was his EA Sports NCAA Football rating coming out of high school. He chose 52 in the pros because that's the number Ray Lewis wore and that's who Mack emulates as a player.
Lewis was a 7-time All Pro. But he didn’t make All Pro for the first time until his fourth NFL season. Mack has already been named All Pro twice in three seasons. Three times if you count the fact that he was named All Pro at two positions (LB, DE) in 2015 -- the only player to every accomplish that.
After his 15.0 sack season in 2015, we asked what he could do for an encore. What he did was lead the league in hurries and was named Defensive Player of the Year. In case you were wondering, Ray Lewis won two DPOY awards, taking home his first one in his fifth season. And Lewis is lock as a first ballot Hall of Famer. Now, about those two Super Bowl rings...
Who wore it best: LB Khalil Mack (2014-present)
Mack had laid claim to this spot even before he was named DPOY. The best number 52 before him was another KM — Kirk Morrison. The Oakland native and Bishop O'Dowd High School star started every single game at middle linebacker over five years with the team, averaging over 126 combined tackles, and 100 solo tackles per season. But he never came close to the heights Mack has already reached. Technically no player in NFL history has reached those heights (All Pro at two different positions in one year).
Even with just 4.0 sacks as a rookie, Mack has 30.0 sacks over three seasons. Averaging double digit sacks in his first three seasons is astounding. One more sack and Mack will enter the top ten in Raiders’ history. Another double digit sack season would put him in the top five. And he has two more years left on his rookie contract. Crazy.
Also see: Khalil Mack signed endorsement deal he was destined to sign