The Oakland Raiders and everyone else watching yesterday’s game had their focus intently set on a rookie. This is not surprising since the Raiders had such a high draft pick — those guys are always going to draw a lot of attention. But it wasn’t Khalil Mack who harnessed everyone’s attention, it was second round pick Derek Carr. It’s understandable after all, the quarterback position is light years more important than the outside linebacker position. But Carr has also done things to force people to pay attention and take note.
Mack, on the other hand, has not done much in general.
He finished his Raiders regular season debut with six tackles, five of which were solo and two of which were tackles for a loss. Not too bad, but he did not have any real big impact plays. Nothing that made you uncontrollably say “oooooh.” Plus, there were far too many times when he was nowhere to be seen when the ballcarrier was tackled.
Not only do the Raiders want to see more from Mack in terms of making big plays. Part of what made him such an attractive pick is the fact that he seemed to have a real nose for the ball. He was one of those guys you expected to either be in on every tackle, or at the very least be right at the pile as the tackle is being made. He has the speed and talent to go from sideline to sideline and the fact that he was not seen near piles enough is a sign he is not reading plays as well as he did in college.
That much is abundantly clear from the fact that he accidentally tackled teammate Justin Tuck at one point, rather than the running back.
But on the other hand, Mack did not make any huge glaring errors either. Two tackles for a loss is not too bad for a rookie debut and he also made a crucial open field tackle, shedding a block in the process, that held the Jets to a short gain. If he had not made the tackle, he did not have help behind him and a big play would likely have broken loose. So he had his moments and was far from being bad on Sunday, but the Raiders are looking for more from their first round pick.