Another day, another end-of-season award for Khalil Mack. “Khalil Mack was the most disruptive defender in football in 2016 and possesses the drive, determination and on-field dominance required of a future, first-ballot Hall of Famer. He often was unblockable and was the deciding factor in many Raiders victories last season. He is the definition of what the Butkus Award represents with his rare work habits, preparation and passion for the game,” said the Butkus Award selection committee.
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The Oakland Raiders defensive end was just a kid from Fort Pierce, Fla., who never stopped working toward his goal, and while he’s risen from an overlooked high school prospect to the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Mack has left a lasting impression on those with the opportunity to meet him throughout his journey.
Not only was he named an Associated Press First-Team All-Pro for the second year in a row, he was also named the NFL 101 Awards’ AFC Defensive Player of the Year, Raiders throwback jerseys and the Pro Football Writers of America’s Defensive Player of the Year as well.
Last season the Oakland Raiders had one player named an Associated Press first-team All-Pro, this year they have two, as both defensive end Khalil Mack and guard Kelechi Osemele have been given the accolade.
Osemele – who is receiving his first tirst-team All-Pro nod – helped pave the way for a Raiders ground attack that finished the season with 1,992 rushing yards, was also dominant in pass protection, helping the Silver and Black allow just 18 sacks in 2016, the lowest mark in the NFL.
Often times, NFL analysts get caught up in the importance of sacks, but fail to take the rest of a player’s impact into consideration. When it came to stopping the run, Mack tallied 44 tackles on 356 rushing snaps, and stopped the run 32 times. At 6’3” and 250 pounds, the third-year player has a versatile skill set that allows him to be affective in the run or passing game.
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What often separates the very best pass-rushers is game-defining impact plays, and Mack had more than one of those over the season. In fact, he recorded more than one of those in a single game, proving to be the difference between the Raiders winning or losing back in Week 12 against the Panthers, when he managed to intercept Carolina QB Cam Newton on a quick screen pass, and later record a strip-sack to force a fumble and seal the win.”
Mack’s postseason performance against the Texans was one of his weakest pass-rushing displays of the year, but he still notched a pair of hurries and was a monster in the run game, with eight defensive stops to his name in just one game.
A native of Fort Pierce, Fla., Mack played collegiately at Buffalo, starting all 48 games in which he appeared. He set a career NCAA record with 16 forced fumbles while setting a school record with 28.5 sacks. Mack also garnered first-team All-MAC honors three seasons in a row from 2011-2013.
While Mack has garnered a myriad of individual accomplishments, his approach is simple; he’s just doing whatever he can to benefit the team. He’s playing for more than himself; his focus is on helping the Raiders win, and he knows he can’t do that without the help of his teammates, and it’s because of that he attributes winning the DPOY to the support of those around him.
At only 26 years old, Mack’s career is still getting started, and he’s cognizant of the fact that he, along with the team as a whole, can improve. For someone who’s driven to exceed expectations, don’t expect Mack to take his foot off the gas any time soon.
That fifth place is not only the highest that has been classified a player of the Raiders since the list is made after each season, but also puts Mack among a select group of defensive players who have been in fifth place or better and includes, apart from Von Miller, defensive end JJ Watt, cornerback Darrelle Revis, safety Ed Reed and linebacker Ray Lewis.
The No. 13 seed University of Buffalo Bulls were set to face the No. 4 University of Arizona Wildcats, who have been highly touted as one of the most-talented teams in the country. While that may have been true, the Bulls didn’t care, and bullied the Wildcats in the paint for most of the evening. Now, whether you were rooting for one or the other, Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack made who he was supporting very clear, considering he’s a former Bull.