Khalil Mack’s Transition To Defensive End Appears Complete

If preseason is any indication, Khalil Mack’s transition to defensive end is complete and his days in pass coverage appear to be all but over.

According to Pro Football Focus, Mack (playing linebacker) dropped into pass coverage 83 times in his rookie season – approximately 15% of passing plays. Albeit a small sample size, that percentage has dropped to 3% this season under Jack Del Rio – Mack (at defensive end) has rushed the quarterback on 57 of 60 passing plays in preseason.

After putting on 10-15 pounds of muscle in the offseason, Mack appears to be even more dominant at the line of scrimmage. Through three preseason games, the Raiders’ second-year star is the top rated defensive player (+15.5) in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. Only four defensive players in the NFL have a PFF rating above +8.0.

After a relatively quiet rookie year from the standpoint of national attention, Mack has been getting plenty in recent months. A recent ESPN Insider piece ranked Mack as the top player in the league under the age of 25. This is an excerpt from that column:

Jack Del Rio’s move from Denver to Oakland naturally has generated talk about Mack becoming a Von Miller-type playmaker. Mack actually edged Miller for the top spot in Pro Football Focus’ grading for 4-3 outside linebackers last season, largely due to his strength in defending the run. Mack’s sack total should rise from four last season: He had 40 hurries, according to PFF’s charting — seven fewer than Miller had and more than triple the total of any other 4-3 outside linebacker.

Nonetheless, Mack does still have a few skeptics. What to do with them, you ask? For Mack’s part, the same as he did in college… just quietly keep track…


Follow on twitter: @raidersbeat