ALAMEDA -– Raiders head coach Dennis Allen compared his newest "chess piece" to Denver linebacker Von Miller.
That’s high praise for Khalil Mack, taken No. 5 overall in Thursday’s opening round of the NFL draft.
Lots of experts have said the same, but it means more coming from the defensive mind who helped Miller tally 11.5 sacks in his rookie season. Then Denver’s defensive coordinator, Allen used Miller as a roving threat who constantly pressured the quarterback.
Placing Mack in Miller’s class –- the Bronco has 35 sacks in three seasons -– is high praise for sure.
“I see a lot of similarities between he and Von Miller,” Allen said. “The thing that really was attractive about Khalil Mack was the fact that he understands how to rush the passer with power. I’ve made that statement several times about everything in the National Football League is about affecting the passer."
“He’s going to have a big role in what we’re going to do. He’ll be a guy that we’re going to use to send after the quarterback in a variety of different ways. I envision his role being very similar to what we did with Von Miller (in Denver).”
Mack will roam around the defense as an outside linebacker. He will also put his hand in the dirt -– most likely in the nickel packages -– and pressure from the line of scrimmage.
While the Raiders hope to impact the passer with a base four-man rush featuring Justin Tuck, Lamarr Woodley, Antonio Smith and Pat Sims, Mack can be a wild card presence that keeps opponents guessing.
“He’s a nice chess piece to have,” Allen said. “You can never have enough rushers in the National Football League. It’s all about impacting the quarterback, and he can certainly do that. When you add him into the mix with some of the guys we were able to add this offseason, I think we have helped out our pass rush a lot.”
Allen said that Mack will primarily be a pass-rusher out of the gate, though his talents in run defense and pass coverage will keep him as an every-snap linebacker.
“We’re excited about the versatility,” Allen said. “He’s a three-down player, and he’s going to be able to do a lot of things that we’re going to ask him to do and have a huge impact on helping this defense get to where it needs to be.”