ALAMEDA – Von Miller and Khalil Mack belong in the same class of edge rushers. Both guys are dominant against the run and pass. While they have different skill sets and ways of reaching the backfield, they’re equally effective.
Elite, one might say.
There’s a level of respect between the two, acknowledged when the Raiders and Denver Broncos met twice a year.
Game, after all, respects game.
That’s why Miller was so shocked when the Raiders sent Mack to Chicago for a return that included two first round picks.
“I was shocked,” Miller said in a conference call with Raiders beat reporters. “I always felt like Khalil and Aaron Donald and JJ Watt were untradeable guys. Then they traded Khalil. Guys like Mack come around once every lifetime. You want to keep guys like that.
“I’m a player, and I’m sure the Raiders ownership had great reasons to make the decisions they made, but you want to try and keep a guy like Khalil and have him play with our organization a long time.”
Miller was happy to see Donald and Mack exceed the six-year, $114 million contract signed in 2016. The market for defensive players certainly increased this offseason, with Mack now the highest paid after signing a six-year $141 million deal with Chicago that includes $90 million guarantees.
That’s why Mack and Miller won’t face off Sunday when the Raiders and Broncos play at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.
Miller is satisfied with his lot in Denver, despite not being the league’s highest paid pass rusher.
“You always want more and more, but I’m playing great football with a great franchise,” Miller said. “When it was time for me to get my contract, they did right by me. I’m sure the team will do the same in the future.”
Miller has been impressed with rookie Arden Key, a third-round pick charged with helping the Raiders replace Mack’s quarterback pressure. They both worked with private trainer Chuck Smith, and Miller came away impressed with Key.
“When Arden was at LSU two years ago, I thought he was going to be a top-5 pick,” Miller said. “He’s definitely a top-5 talent. As he continues to develop, he’ll become the pass rusher the Raiders need him to be.
“He does everything pass-rush-wise. He has great feet, great bend, great get-off. Any pass-rush move, he’s capable of doing it. When you go on Madden and build a defensive end, that’s him. He’s a freak of nature.”