Pro Football Writers of America awarded Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack with the Defensive Player of the Year honors.
An impressive season for Khalil Mack was commemorated on Wednesday as the PFWA announced Mack as their choice for Defensive Player of the Year, the first Raider to receive the award since its inception in 1992. Mack was named as an All-Pro by the Associated Press earlier this month and is the presumed front runner for the NFL’s DPOY award to be decided in the coming weeks.
Finishing the season with 11 sacks landed Mack as the 12th-highest in sack totals for the 2016 season and also places him among Oakland’s top-10 in franchise sack leaders. Though his ability to get after the quarterback isn’t what solely earned him the DPOY award. Five forced fumbles, including three recoveries, and a pick-six displayed Mack’s versatility as a gamebreaker while 77 tackles and four passes defended showed his willingness to get involved in all defensive scenarios.
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Per Pro Football Focus, Mack also led the league with 96 quarterback pressures and had a sack in eight straight games, tied for a league record. In a Week 12 home game against the Carolina Panthers Mack completed the quintet of defensive accolades when he recorded an interception, sack, forced fumble and recovery to go along with a touchdown–the first player to do so since 2009.
“Pick Six, sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery… I’m just blessed to be in his presence,” Raiders teammate Bruce Irvin said following Oakland’s 35-32 win over Carolina, per Tim Kawakami of The Mercury News. “The guy is one helluva player..I’m just blessed to be in a great situation, to play alongside a future Hall of Famer.
“He has always been a great student of the game,” Raiders defensive line coach Jethro Franklin said, per Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle. “His technique has improved, in the run game and in the pass rush. He just has that rare combination. He is a real strong, dominant run defender and real powerful — with [the] finesse [needed to be a] pass rusher.
The NFL’s DPOY will be announced at the NFL Honors show the night before Super Bowl LI.