Khalil Mack   LB/DE   Buffalo

TALENT BOARD ROUND  2

STRENGTHS
If you’re looking for a natural pass rusher, look no further than Khalil because he is just that -- a natural pass rusher. He has long arms and legs and can explode off the line of scrimmage. He has good strength and does a nice job against the run at the point of attack. He takes two long strides and is up in the quarterback’s face quicker than most in this draft class because he takes the correct angles and the most direct track into the backfield. He changes the line of scrimmage and, in the backfield, is always around the ball to make an impact play or sack. Khalil shows leadership skills thorough his play on the field. He has excellent feet and balance to turn the corner and make the strip sack as well as overall untapped athleticism to improve and become the linebacker his talents suggest he could become. There is a ton of upside to Khalil’s game which makes it easy for me to see him being drafted earlier than I would consider him. Right now Khalil reminds me of Calvin Pace Arizona Cardinals 18th pick of the 2003 draft, who never became the impact player his draft status projected him to be.

CONCERNS
Right now Khalil is a natural pass rusher who struggles if he plays off the line of scrimmage in a true linebacker position. He lacks the instincts and football intelligence to be used in coverage and struggles to make secure tackles and hold the point of attack when he is off the line of scrimmage. Most of the time he is taking false steps when trying to stop the run and is a sloppy tackler against the run. In coverage Khalil will be taken advantage of because he lacks the techniques and understanding of down and distance and general passing game football awareness.

BOTTOM LINE
Khalil reminds me a lot of Calvin Pace when he came out in the draft. Most teams that run a 3-4 defense will rate Khalil high on their draft boards because of his natural pass rushing skills. Khalil proved he has the ability to impact as a pass rusher when he went up against the tough and big offensive line of Ohio St. That being said, I’ve seen too much film on him off the line of scrimmage that makes me feel that Khalil has a long way to go before you can call him anything more than a specialty pass rush player right now. I also feel that if you try to make him into a complete linebacker it will lessen his impact like it did to Calvin Pace. It comes down to this: how highly does a team rate a specialty pass rush player who may or may not have the football intelligence to play off the line of scrimmage? The other question is, can Khalil play as a Defensive End in a 4-3 defense with his size? I think he could, but he has to improve against the run or he will not be an impact Defensive End. Right now as of this writing, there are suggestions that Khalil is a top ten player in this draft. I guess if you’re desperate for a pass rush that would be your thinking. I guess if you think Khalil will turn into a Pro Bowl OLB/DE in a 3-4 defense you might think that way also. I can see a playoff team in the 1st round drafting Khalil because he has excellent “Potential” but for me if I’m drafting in the top 15 I want to draft a more complete player who I think can start and impact in more than just a pass rushing specialty capacity. That’s just me and why we use the two board system.

Drew Boylhart
DEC/2013