The Raiders drafted Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack Thursday night with the No. 5 pick in the first round of the NFL draft.
Mack, 6-foot-3 and 251 pounds, is a versatile defender who set school records at Buffalo of the Mid-American Conference with 28.5 sacks, 75 tackles for loss and 16 forced fumbles.
“I’m blessed and proud to be an Oakland Raider,’’ Mack said on the NFL Network after his selection.
South Carolina defensive end Jadaveon Clowney went No. 1 to the Houston Texans, followed by quarterback Blake Bortles of Central Florida and wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the Buffalo Bills.
Although the Raiders return all three starting linebackers _ Sio Moore on the strong side, Nick Roach in the middle and Kevin Burnett on the strong side _ Mack figures to displace one of the outside starters and play a role as a nickel pass rusher.
Going into the offseason, general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen both talked about upgraded the Raiders pass rush. Mack’s explosiveness is added to the mix along with free agent ends Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley.
Some analysts considered Mack to be the top player in the draft. The hope is the Raiders have landed a defender whose skill has been compared to Clay Matthews, Von Miller and Aldon Smith.
“The toughest transition is going to be getting to know grown men in a professional environement,’’ Mack told reporters at the NFL scouting combine. “It’s going to be a transition but I feel like football-wise I’m ready to step in and make an impact any way I can.’’