Sunday, March 23, 2014

2014 NFL Draft Prospect: OLB/EP Khalil Mack - Buffalo

Khalil Mack
Rush Linebacker
University of Buffalo
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 251 lbs.
40 Time: 4.65s*
Vertical: 40"*
Broad Jump: 10'8"*
* Top Performer

2010 Redshirt Freshman Season:  After redshirting, Mack broke into the starting lineup and made an instant impact to the tune of 68 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 10 pass breakups, 8 QB hurries and 2 forced fumbles.  Mack was named 3rd team All-MAC.

2011 Sophomore Season:  Mack left off where he started, improving upon his freshman numbers.  Mack lead the team in sacks, tackles for loss and fumble recoveries, compiling 65 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 2 pass breakups, 13 QB hurries, 1 interception and 5 forced fumbles.  He was named 1st team All-MAC.

2012 Junior Season:  Mack missed the first game of the season, but turned in career numbers with 94 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 2 pass breakups, 4 QB hurries, 4 forced fumbles and 1 blocked kick.  Mack earned 1st team All-MAC for the 2nd consecutive season.

2013 Senior Season:  After a stellar junior campaign, Mack returned for his senior year even after receiving high grades from the draft advisory committee.  Mack saved his best for last, with 100 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, 7 pass breakups, 6 QB hurries, 3 interceptions (2 TDs) and 5 forced fumbles.  Mack ended his Buffalo career setting NCAA records for forced fumbles (16) and tackles for loss (75).


+ Explosive speed rush; elite first step
+ Plays with an edge; self-motivator and extremely competitive
+ Has good on-field awareness; always around the ball
+ Surprisingly strong at the point of attack; hits with violence
+ Plays with low pad level and good body bend
+ Has a good assortment of pass rush moves
+ Excellent in pursuit
+ Comfortable playing in space and in coverage
+ Scheme versatile; can play in 3 point stance

- Questions with level of competition
- Needs to focus on playing in control
- Shedding blocks more consistently
- Sometimes overruns plays due to his aggressive style of play

NFL Player Comparison:  DE/LB Terrell Suggs - Ravens

Khalil Mack has physical tools similar to Pro Bowler Terrell Suggs.  Mack broke a NCAA record shared by Suggs for forced fumbles last season, not to mention also end his career as the leader in tackles for loss.  Like Suggs, Mack is a jack of all trades, with the athleticism to play in space and the elite burst and first step to rush the QB effectively.  Suggs had an extremely productive career, playing for a much competitive conference than Mack.  The plus thing for Mack is that even against top level opponents (ie Ohio State, Baylor), he was the best defensive player on the field.

Mack is an extremely active defender.  Buffalo used him to rush the passer or drop back and play in coverage.  Where Mack will impact the game most will be generating pressure off the edge.  He's got an assortment of pass rush moves to go along with his quick first step.  He plays with consistent pad level, getting low and turning the corner.  If he can get better anticipating the ball off the snap, he'll be downright scary.

Raiders Draft Analysis

The obvious take on Mack is that he's an ill-fit for the Raiders unless they're planning on switching over to the 3-4.  Even with DC Jason Tarver's ties to the 3-4 defense, it seems like the Raiders are content playing the 4-3 base while throwing in some 3-4 wrinkles.  The Raiders have two solid veterans at LB with Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett to go along with Sio Moore who's coming off a great rookie campaign.  Reggie McKenzie also added veterans Justin Tuck and Lamarr Woodley in free agency to upgrade the pass rush.  What the Raiders don't have is a young pass rusher who's versatile enough to play either LB or DE given the situation.

That's Mack's wheelhouse, playing a hybrid role similar to Suggs in the Ravens defense.  Mack is talented enough to play in any defensive scheme.  For the Raiders, he could be the long-term solution to Lamarr Woodley at RDE.  It goes back to my opinion that McKenzie isn't looking for developmental players, but with the 1st round pick he's looking for an immediate difference maker.

Even with the additions of Tuck and Woodley, the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl showed that an aggressive pass rush can trump any high powered throwing offense.  The Seahawks' secondary gets all the press, but its the 7 guys they have in rotation that makes those guys look so good.  Both Tuck and Woodley are signed to 2 year contracts, so Mack's addition to the Raiders would really go a long way in improving that area of the defense both short and long term.  

There's been some talk of Mack going 1st overall nationally.  As long as the Texans keep that 1st overall pick, its highly unlikely that happen.  Bortles will most likely be a top 10 pick and with Reggie McKenzie having personally gone to the Bulls Pro Day, Mack is definitely in play for the Raiders.

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