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Pro Football Focus ranks Khalil Mack back among NFL elite where he should have been all along

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Khalil Mack was never not elite. Good to see PFF come to their senses.

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NFL: New England Patriots at Oakland Raiders Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Just four months ago Pro Football Focus put out their annual Top 101 players. Much to many people’s surprise, Khalil Mack was listed all the way at 31 overall. It was a big change from his 4th overall ranking following his 2016 Defensive Player of the Year season and his 6th overall ranking following the 2015 season.

The weird thing is, aside from his 15.5 sacks in 2015, Mack’s numbers in 2017 were nearly identical in most areas. His 79 pressures was just 3 fewer than he had in 2015 while his 53 defensive stops were just one fewer than 2015 — both times leading the league among edge defenders. And yet his 2015 numbers had him at 6th and after 2017 he fell to 31st in their rankings.

They have apparently had some time to think it over and in their Top 50 for 2018 they have Mack back among the elite where he belongs.

Much the same way as Julio Jones and Antonio Brown are difficult to separate as the best receiver in the game, the same holds true for Mack and Miller, with the added spice that they both play in the same division. Mack notched 79 total pressures and led the league among edge defenders with 53 defensive stops. He is dominant on the edge as a rusher and a run defender, and has done it without a huge amount of help up front on that Raiders defense. Mack and Miller were tough to separate a season ago and last season only made their comparison a closer one.

They have Aaron Donald as their top player overall and Luke Kuechly two spots ahead of Mack at 5th overall, which would suggest they see those two as the frontrunners to be this year’s DPOY.

It seems this top 50 is mostly a way to correct their mistake in using the failings of the Raiders as a team to judge Mack as a player. So, maybe this ranking is more of a bounce back for the players around Mack. Which, if that happens, should bring Mack’s sack numbers back to levels you would expect from a player who generates as much pressure as he does on a consistent basis.