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Ken Norton Jr. gushes over new pupil Khalil Mack

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The Oakland Raiders have a long way to go to match Seattle's pool of talent on defense, but new coordinator Ken Norton Jr. is sold on Khalil Mack.

"I've been very, very impressed," said Norton Jr., the former Seahawks assistant, per ESPN.com. "One thing I (had) with my linebackers at Seattle, we do a great job of just watching other players across the league to see what they do well. See the type of things that I can help them coach and get themselves better and just see what is going on.

"Khalil Mack is a guy, with Bruce Irvin and the rest of my SAM linebackers, guys on the strong side, just watched his explosion, his speed, his combination of size and his strength. ... He's a really smart player and he loves playing ball. I've done really well with young men who have a knack of making plays and really love playing football."

Mack stands to benefit from playing under Norton and new coach Jack Del Rio, who both roamed the field as former NFL linebackers. Finishing third in voting for Defensive Rookie of the Year, Mack was among Oakland's few bright spots last season, ranking above Von Miller and every other 4-3 outside linebacker league-wide, per Pro Football Focus. His run-stuffing grade was more than double that of anyone else at his position.

The speed Mack employed to detonate runners also paid off down the stretch in blitz packages, with his four sacks all coming after Week 10. Used all over the field, the first-rounder looked more like a seasoned veteran, forcing teams to furiously game plan around him.

If you're looking for hope in Oakland, it starts with Mack, and Norton Jr. knows it. 

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