Players from small schools often have a big chip on their shoulders. They work harder, hustle faster and are determined to outwork their name competition. Monday at the NFL Combine, Khalil Mack proved those theories correct.
Mack was one of the shining stars of the defensive line and linebacker portion of the combine on Monday afternoon, running a solid 4.6 40 yard dash, putting up a shocking 40 inch vertical jump and a solid 10'8'' broad jump. All told, Mack was a top performer from the linebacker group in four out of six combine events.
Showcasing speed and agility, Mack was also smooth in the on-field drills, backing up what has been seen on tape. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock was so impressed that he said he'd consider taking Mack with the number one pick.
Considering the run on quarterbacks, offensive linemen and skill position players that always happens early historically, expecting Mack to go first overall might be a significant stretch, but Mack certainly will be in the discussion in the latter half of the top ten right around where Detroit picks.
In need of another outside linebacker, might Detroit be so tempted by Mack's big play potential that they bite on him with their first pick? Ashlee Palmer isn't a liability in the field, but he's far from an elite prospect, too. It's been a while since the Lions took a linebacker in the first round (Chris Claiborne in 1999 to be exact), and consequently, they've become a bit thin at the position while lacking bigger name impact players.
Given Mack's solid combine and explosive season at Buffalo, pairing him with two responsible veterans in Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy could lead to the formation of a dynamite trio. Mack has big play ability, and with the responsibility of the other two, Detroit would suddenly have a very formidable linebacker group. That would be especially true if Mack brought the same hustle mentality to the Lions as he brought to Buffalo and the combine.
There's still a long way to go between February 25 and May 8, but with a great combine, some seeds were planted for a very interesting discussion in Detroit's draft room. Mack might not be of the two elite cornerbacks or wide receivers, but he still fills a position of need and showed the right mindset to be successful.
That could prove to be a very interesting combination for the Lions.
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