Oakland Raiders star Khalil Mack would routinely exceed 20 sacks if not for illegal play from opposing offensive linemen, according to his quarterback, Derek Carr.
Carr told Adam Schein on Sirius XM Radio that Mack has the ability to set records (via CBS Sports' Will Brinson):
20 sacks for Khalil is easily attainable. ... He could have 30 if he just didn't get held all the time. I'm not kidding you. I go back and watch him, because me and him are close, close friends. So I go back and watch him and those things I'm not kidding you, this guy gets held more than anything I've ever seen in my life.
If he didn't get held, if all those things got called, he'd be hitting the quarterback at least 40 times.
The Raiders' Twitter account is also intrigued at how many sacks Mack might accumulate in 2016:
Mack's 15 sacks last season were second to the Houston Texans' J.J. Watt, who racked up 17.5 quarterback takedowns.
The third-year player out of Buffalo is supremely gifted, but he is more than just a pass-rusher. Of all of the players who finished in the top 50 in sacks, none recorded more total tackles than Mack's 77.
He has such a quick, powerful first step off of the line of scrimmage, which allows him to disrupt plays like this, courtesy of the NFL:
Reaching the 30-sack plateau is unrealistic, but Mack could exceed 20 sacks this upcoming season.
At 25 years old, Mack will be entering the beginning of his prime, so improvement is expected. What also helps is the division he plays in. According to Pro Football Focus, the Denver Broncos (tied for 20th), San Diego Chargers (32nd) and Kansas City Chiefs (22nd) were among the worst offensive lines in the league in 2015.
The Broncos also ranked second in penalties, so maybe Carr has some substance behind his holding claims.
Mack is one of the brightest young talents in football, so Carr is right to have confidence in him. With Carr also stepping into his third season, the future looks bright in Oakland. The team could be in line for a breakthrough campaign by no later than the 2017 season.
All statistics are courtesy of ESPN.com.