Raiders outside linebacker Khalil Mack had an outstanding rookie season. Nothing can take that away.
Last year’s No. 5 overall pick didn’t win the NFL’s defensive rookie of the year award, which was given to St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald on Saturday evening during the NFL Honors show in Phoenix.
Donald had 25 votes. Baltimore inside linebacker C.J. Mosley came in second place with 18, with Mack in third with six and 49ers lineback Chris Borland in fourth with one.
Sacks speak loudly in these awards, and Mack had just four. Donald’s had with 48 tackles, two forced fumbles and nine sacks as an interior lineman. That’s pretty impressive, and a bit more attractive than Mack’s 76 tackles, four sacks, three passes defensed, a forced fumble and 16 tackles for loss.
The Raiders believe he can improve on those totals with steady improvement and some help along the defensive front. The Silver and Black expect him to be a franchise cornerstone and continue to improve on a rookie year where he was dominant on a bad team.
Mack’s play jumped off the film, and was more impressive than his stats suggest. He was Pro Football Focus’ highest-rated outside linebacker, mostly because he was excellent against the run.
He’s an incredibly hard worker and will want to build on a solid start to his NFL career.
“I feel like improved week by week,” Mack said after a season-ending loss in Denver. “That’s the goal for any player, especially for a rookie. I want my impact on the game to continually grow.”