NFL draft prospects are rarely sure things; they are more a roll of the dice than guaranteed winning lottery tickets.
That is unless you are a 6'3", 251-pound linebacker with a 40-inch vertical who can run the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds, as Khalil Mack's draft profile at CBS Sports notes.
Those numbers tend to drop the odds of the Buffalo product going bust to a very small number. Men that big just don't come that athletically gifted.
First-year Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine, a defensive guru, told ESPN.com's Scott Brown:
Explosive athlete. He's a guy that the tape backs it up. He can play on the ball, he can play off the ball, he plays violently, and he's played some of his better games against better competition.
If they are big, they usually aren't fast. If they are extremely fast, they usually are not that tough. If they are all of those, they usually know it, and the game can come too easy to them at times and they might be inclined to take plays off.
This does not apply to Mack.
Respected NFL draft analyst Mike Mayock is so convinced that he said Mack would be his No. 1 overall pick, via KFAN's Paul Allen and Paul Charchian (h/t Vikings.com):
If you put the tape on against Ohio State, he dominates Ohio State like no one I have ever seen dominate them. He's explosive off the edge. He's tough. He's twitchy. He's got a little edge about him.
When I watch him on tape, I feel like he's pissed off at the world, and I like that. ...
What can't this kid do? He must be a bad kid off the field, and then I find out he's a really good kid off the field. You talk about a kid like (Jadeveon) Clowney, who's just got superhuman abilities, versus this kid, and if I had a choice between the two, I think I'm going Mack.
But don't just take our word for it. The numbers back it up: Mack set an NCAA record with 16 forced fumbles and is tied for first in NCAA history with 75 tackles for loss, as NFL.com's Mike Huguenin notes.
|LB Khalil Mack, Buffalo, Defensive Statistics|
It helps, of course, that Mack hasn't missed a game due to injury. That only adds to his draft status.
Add a check in the versatility column for Mack too. He can play in any defense. He is fast enough to be the outside rush linebacker in the 3-4 and has the strength to be the "Sam" linebacker in the 4-3.
Heck, Mack says he is even capable of putting his hand in the dirt as a 4-3 defensive end, as The Plain Dealer's Tom Reed reports:
I don't want to limit myself to just playing one specific thing. I feel like that's the biggest thing for me. I try to workout, when I workout, with the defensive ends. I work out with the linebackers. I also go over and workout with the defensive backs just to stay fresh. I work hard, and I want to stay loose and don't want to put a limit on myself.
He has all of the bases covered.
"Mack is a stud," NFL media analyst Daniel Jeremiah said on The Dan Patrick Show, according to Huguenin. "He is a big-time guy. He can rush the passer, he can cover, he can do everything."
The only question mark with Mack right now is just how early will he go. ESPN's Todd McShay (subscription required) slots him as the third overall pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars—in lieu of a quarterback, no less.
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. (subscription required) lists Mack as the third-best prospect in the draft on his big board, but his latest mock draft has the Houston Texans going the Mayock route, picking Mack over Clowney—or a quarterback—at No. 1 overall.
It is tough to argue with McShay and Kiper. It would be a bad idea to argue with a dude like Mack either.
Go ahead, try to tell him he isn't going to be a star in the NFL. We would suggest you say it and run away, but Mack will catch you pretty quickly. Just give in, like the Texans or Jaguars will in the first three picks next month.
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, was the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this past season. He is now an NFL featured writer here. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game.