The 2014 NFL Draft isn’t here yet but it won’t be long because both the NFL and College Football season are slowly but surely winding down and it will be time for the off-season. Now with that being said, as always there are plenty of talented and athletic prospects who will be in the 2014 NFL Draft. While many people are looking forward to the quarterbacks of the draft, I have to admit I am looking forward to the defensive side of the Draft.
There will be plenty of defenders to choose from, defensive lineman, linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties, just take your pick. In particular when it comes to the linebacker position there are a few linebackers that fans and teams are already excited about such as Anthony Barr (UCLA) and CJ Mosley (Alabama) and that’s just to name a few. However, there is one particular linebacker prospect that fans need to talk about more and that linebacker is senior Khalil Mack of Buffalo.
Mack has been an underrated since high school, not receiving many big school offers but he didn’t let that stop him. When you talk about Mack, you’re talking about a defender who has gained the respect of coaches and peers as a feared and talented defender in the MAC conference but in college football as a whole and it’s time for more people to take notice. At 6-foot-3 and 248 pounds, your dealing with a very athletic, quick, fast and instinctive linebacker.
Last season as junior he racked up 94 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, eight sacks and four forced fumbles. Then so far this season he has racked up 77 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, seven sacks, six pass breakups and three interceptions. From those numbers you can tell that he is an all-around good defender but I think he best fits in 3-4 system at outside linebacker. He is best known for being someone who can disrupt the backfield but don’t be fooled, he also has the ability to drop back in coverage and hold his own.
Mack has very high football IQ and you combine that with his great instincts and you have a very feared linebacker. Unlike so many players in football today, he understands how to wrap up and tackle his opponents, he also does a great job of stripping the ball, see his stats above. When it comes pass coverage, he has great awareness, he tends to do a good job of breaking up passes and limiting the big play. When it comes to making plays in the backfield, that awareness is even better. He is able very explosive and tenacious which allows him to play from start to finish and make plays in the backfield or open field. He is able to break down plays pre-snap and adjust when needed to misdirection plays.
There is no doubt in my mind that Mack will be a gem in this year’s draft but since he comes from the MAC conference there are always some doubts. Don’t make me count how many times, I heard experts doubt Eric Fisher of Central Michigan who ended up being the first overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. It just comes with the process, no need to dwell on it. Nonetheless, I think if you haven’t already, you should make a point to watch Buffalo next time their on television and you definitely better watch out for this young man during the off-season and in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
Listen to LBeasley’s Radio Show, “Sports Talk with L-Beasley” every Mon, Wed & Fri from 6-8pm (ET) on LBeasley.com