Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Every year, during the few months between the end of the season and the NFL Draft, tons of mock drafts are published for readers to sink their teeth into. While there are multiple mocks from hundreds of authors, it always seems that during the final month or so of the process, everyone comes to a general consensus on a certain player going to a certain team. This year that award goes to the Jacksonville Jaguars selecting Khalil Mack third overall.
When the process started, the main thought was the Jaguars would be selecting a quarterback, or possibly Jadeveon Clowney if he were to slip to pick three. Now that thought has shifted into pairing up defensive-minded Head Coach Gus Bradley with a versatile player who could slide around and play multiple positions. But is Khalil Mack really that versatile, and more importantly is he worth the number three overall pick?
Let me start by saying in no way am I trying to trash Mack. I do think he is a first round talent, just not a top ten talent. And that is where my problem lies with him: I think he will be a good, not great, player. If I’m playing General Manager, and I’m picking third overall, I’m picking what I believe to be an elite talent or a top quarterback. My other issue with Mack is I don’t believe he is as versatile as he is made out to be. It seems that Mack is the perfect example of a guy who is mislabeled as versatile because he lines up at different spots on the field, and has had at least some success in those areas. But if you ask me, a player should only really be labeled versatile if he can be strongly effective at different positions, and I don’t think Mack fits that bill.
When I first started watching video of Khalil Mack, I actually really liked him. This was probably because I started with his now infamous Ohio State game, which was arguably his most impressive performance. As I watched more games, however, I noticed that Mack was not always the dominating force he was in the OSU game. He would struggle to get off blocks. He would be slow in analyzing a play. He wasn’t creating consistent pressure in the backfield. It wasn’t as if Mack looked terrible in all those areas, it was the fact that he didn’t look elite in any of those areas. This is my issue with Mack: can he become elite at pass rushing? Can he be elite at dropping into coverage? Can he give me a consistent effort? Can he play with his hand on the ground?
The first time I saw Khalil Mack being compared to Jadeveon Clowney, I nearly threw up. These two players aren’t even in the same realm in my opinion. Clowney is an elite talent at both rushing the passer and causing general disruption in the backfield, making him a perfect candidate for the LEO position. Mack, however, is not elite at those areas, which has led to most analysts labeling him as a SLB on 1st and 2nd downs, and moving to LEO on 3rd downs. I also find it funny that Clowney is constantly bagged about his effort, while when watching Mack I saw several plays where he only gave half an effort, or stopped going once he saw the play was being run in the opposite direction.
If the Jaguars were picking in the mid-to-late first round, I would have no issue picking Khalil Mack. But at third overall, the price is just too high for my tastes. Factor in the idea that at three you could still be looking at a top QB like Bridgewater or Manziel, an elite WR like Sammy Watkins, or possibly even Jadeveon Clowney(albeit with a miracle), and there’s no way I’m selecting Mack third overall. Will Dave Caldwell feel the same way? Thankfully, we now have less than a week to find out.
Follow and play along on Twitter – @Matt_Hoffman28