2014 NFL Draft Player Profiles – Buffalo LB Khalil Mack

By Alex Kozora

With the regular season over, our focus has shifted to the offseason. For the next few months, I’ll be providing scouting reports on prospects. Some the Pittsburgh Steelers may look at along with other top players that will be off the board before they select. All to make you as prepared for the 2014 NFL Draft as possible.

To kick things off, a seemingly surefire Top Ten selection. From Buffalo, outside linebacker Khalil Mack.

Khalil Mack/OLB Buffalo: 6’3 248

The Good

– Top notch athlete

– Extremely active, quick hands

– Sheds blockers and rarely stays engaged as a pass rusher

– Arsenal of pass rushing moves (swim, dip, bull rush, spin)

– Good closing speed

– Commanded double and even occasional triple teams as a pass rusher

– Quick first step

– Agile

– Plays with proper leverage

– Hips appear to be fluid in coverage, has experience dropping

– Quality motor

– Production against top competition

– Record setting player

– Decorated athlete

The Bad

– Average upper body strength

– Holds own at Point of Attack against TEs, but can get swallowed up against OTs

– Will get swallowed up against the run

– Misses a few tackles he should make


– Tied NCAA record for career TFL (75)

– Holds NCAA record for career FF (16)

– Team record for career sacks (28.5)

– 2nd Team AP All-American

– Three Time First Team All-MAC

– 2013 MAC Defensive Player of the Year

– Winner of 2013 Jack Lambert Award, given to nation’s top linebacker

– 2013 runner up for the Dick Butkus Award, finishing ahead of Anthony Barr

– Third-team All-State in Florida senior year of High School, finishing with 140 tackles

– Mostly saw time at SAM linebacker, did play with hand down in some subpackages

Obviously, you can tease out my impression of Mack. He’s a quintessential pass rusher, drawing comparisons to former #2 overall pick Von Miller. The fact that he has speed and the sacks isn’t what enamors me to the Buffalo product. It’s how refined he is as a pass rusher. Mack doesn’t need to be taught moves or work on counters; he’s already exhibited them on a consistent basis.

Focusing on his toughest competition, Ohio St, check out the leverage he gets on right tackle Taylor Decker on back-to-back plays.


And then he sheds to record the sack.


*Pictures and video courtesy of Draftbreakdown.com

He puts Decker on skates the following play, putting pressure on Braxton Miller.

Later in the game, he shows his athleticism, fighting off the cut block, intercepting the screen, outrunning Miller and running back Dontre Wilson, diving into the end zone for the score.

Bear in mind that is the 248 pound Mack outrunning a 180 pound running back 45 yards to the house.

He may be perceived coming from a “small” school but did big things against top teams. In the bowl game against San Diego State, the Aztecs repeatedly ran away from him and double-teamed him with a tackle and running back. Their plan was to not let Mack beat them, a compliment of the highest order.

The biggest complaint to his game is difficulty shedding blocks against the run. That coupled with his lack of height makes him best suited to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.

Mack will be one of the first, if not the first, defenders off the board in May’s draft.

Projection: Top Ten

Games Watched: at Ohio St, vs Ohio, vs San Diego St (Bowl)

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • T R

    would be nice but not sure he will drop to 15… but its possible if all them other teams go QB and offense…

  • steeltown

    If the Steelers like him then I guess its possible, but there are quite a few Teams playing 3-4 these days. Just hope they attempt to lock up Worilds so we don’t have to spend a pick at LB till the mid-late Rds for depth purpose

  • Chad H

    Dude looks good. We are set up to take best player available so a OLB is not off the board. If Mack or Barr fall the Steelers may grab them.

  • Callentown

    Like Sammy Watkins, I don’t think he will be there at 15.

  • JT

    I hope and pray he and Barr both go in the top 10 because that makes it that much more likely a top flight WR or DB will be there at 15. But if he falls, he could be an asset. Although inability to set the edge is concerning considering how the run defense has faired recently.

  • srdan

    It’s crazy to think that we use to draft these guys in the 3-5 round because nobody played our system. Now we are competing wtih the other 15 teams playing it.

  • Madi

    10 years ago we get J.J. Watt in the 2nd or 3rd.

  • srdan

    LOL, we were stealing and nobody knew it.

  • Dan

    If you think about it this is a great year for a non-QB-interested team to have a top 15 pick. With 4-5 QBs likely to go at the top of the first round, our 15th pick may get us the 11th best non-QB player. From what I’ve seen there aren’t any DBs meriting that high of a pick this year (with possible exception of Mr. Haha), but there’s a WR or two. I’ll be interested to see more reports on Nix.

  • David Edward

    Assuming they do the right thing and lock up Worilds and dump Woodley June 1, then OLB won’t be on the radar for a day 1 or day 2 pick. If they fail to sign Worilds, then it gets interesting because they might be forced to take a OLB high or keep Woodley if they can’t get one.

    Either way, it’s doubtful Mack will be there @15. Also, with Mack, I would worry a bit about the upper body strength thing and him not being stout against OT vs. the run. Those things hurt Jarvis this year and Mack would have to start right away if they were to draft him.

  • David Edward

    Guess you haven’t heard about Darqueze Dennard, the top CB in the draft. He is likely to be gone by 15, but if he’s there, he’d be a great choice @ 15.

  • JT

    I agree that they can get Dewar lucky this year. I’m hoping for early runs on QBs and OTS. Denard and Ha Ha are basically locks for the top 15.

    Nix is a fat piece of crap. There’s your report. No stamina at all. Only played 55% of snaps at college and still wasn’t a dominating force. The Steelers should, and will stay far away.

  • Patrick Hotaling

    Could they trade Woodley for a pick in the 2014 draft – or, because he is still under contract, that wouldn’t work??

  • David Edward

    I don’t think any team would trade for Woodley and his massive contract. They would have to pay his base salary of $25.5M over the next 3 years. Any team interested in Woodley would just wait for the Steelers to designate him as a June 1 cut, then they could negotiate their own deal with him for much less..and they wouldn’t have to give the Steelers anything in return.

  • SteelersDepot

    Man, oh man , what a kid.

    The bullrush that Mack possesses from either side is spectacular and he uses those arms of his very well. Numerous times in the game against Ohio State you will see him put the tackles on skates. He is already five times the pass rusher that Jarvis Jones is.

    As Alex points out, he could use more moves and you really don’t see him bending underneath in a lot of tape. Maybe that’s because he doesn’t have to against the competition that he faced in college.

    As far as his play against the run, he uses those arms to keep separation and that is on both sides as well. He is already used to playing without his hand in the dirt so that is another positive.

    I like they way he jams the tight end and can’t wait to see him do drop drills in addition to seeing where his measurables all come in at while in Indianapolis.

    Its still way early, but it really would be shocking to see Mack drop to 15. If he does, however, it would be very hard to pass him up.

    Do yourself a favor and watch the Ohio State game.

  • Chad H

    Dennard does not fit the Steelers mold of CBs. I think Gilbert would be a better fit but I don’t see any as a definite 1st rd stand out.

  • Chad H

    I believe he has more upside than JJ and think if he falls they will grab him and move JJ inside. Sorry it’s my opinion and I’m sticking with it.

  • Dan

    I’ve heard a lot of positive about Nix, but thanks for the report JT. Of course those magic numbers from the combine will tell us the ultimate truths. 🙂

  • Dan

    I don’t follow college ball enough to say if Dennard merits a high pick or not, but most of the current mocks have him at the bottom half of the first if or not included in the first. I’m seeing more Ifo or Gilbert at the top CB off the board. Surely you are not disputing the expertise of the mock draft experts? They must be right or else they wouldn’t be on the internet.

  • David Edward

    Lol! Mocks right now are basically useless, still don’t know for another week who the final early entrants will be, and until FA runs its course we really don’t know teams true draft needs. A better thing to do is to rank players into tiers by position, then by overall to get a “drart board”.
    I like Ifo from Oregon, but looks like he’s going to stay unless he changes his mind last minute. I like Gilbert too because of his size and play making ability along with being a good KR. I’d be fine with them taking him, although Carnell Lake is going to have to do some work on his technique. Dennard, though, is the pick of the litter.

  • David Edward

    Not sure of what your idea of Steeler mold of CB is, but I’d say a guy like Dennard who is a solid cover guy who can “tackle the catch” is pretty much exactly the Steeler mold.

  • Dan

    Well I certainly am in favor of investing in the CB position. On the assumption that Ike only has 1 or 2 good years left (and is in the point in his career where injuries are more common) we need to get somebody started in Lebeau school now. Just not sure if it’s best to get a lot of lower round guys in camp and let the coaches pick one that shines or if it’s worth it to invest a high round pick. Given how the quality of CB play can make or break a defense, I’d tend to say we risk a high round pick if the right guy is there. I’ll read up on Dennard.


    I was hoping for Mingo, but supported the JJ pick and I still like him. That said, nothing to be sorry about…he doesn’t look like an OLB in this scheme to me either.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Jarvis is a Steeler and I will support him as long as he is here. But he was quite a disappointment for a 1.17 pick. He’s got a long ways to go to catch Mack IMO.

    Mack is twice the athlete as Jarvis and will probably be drafted about the same range (a little higher maybe 1.12). If he falls to 1.15 it is very very very likely he will be the BPA.

    Imagine if we would’ve gone CB at 1.17 last year with either Rhodes or Trufant. Then Mack this year at 1.15.

    Going forward our defense could have been: Cortez Allen and Desmond Trufant at CB. And Jason Worilds and Kalil Mack at OLB.

    Damn it.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Woodley is done, Worilds could be gone, there is no depth at the OLB position on this team. I see the Steelers taking Mack (if he’s there) possibly even Trent Murphy (Stanford) who can also get after the QB but offers better defense setting the edge against the run than does Mack.

    But what do I know they’ll probably draft another OT in the first.

  • Josh Knepshield

    Trent Murphy is not very explosive. Good technician but not explosive enough for a 1st

  • Josh Knepshield

    Is there any possible way to keep BOTH Woodley and Worilds?

  • Josh Knepshield

    Release Ike, Extend Ben, Restructure Brown and Timmons, Polamalu also seems like a guy that would work on his contract for the benefit of the team.

  • Steve

    Worlds will be gone by may 1st.

  • MC

    I feel ya.
    I dreaded the pick of JJ at 17 but i knew they would pick him if he fell. His season was exactly what i feared/expected of him.
    I’m with you in wishing we went secondary high last draft and went for this guy in the next draft.
    I think it would be wise for steelers to trade down this draft, too many holes to fill.

  • Madi

    Hmm. That’s like a Fantasy Bummer. Why? Get back to us when Mack goes after 1.15.

  • Chad H

    Size and speed my friend. If you look at who the Steelers draft they have been looking at taller guys with speed. Dennard is listed at 5’11” and 4.58 speed. I don’t think he actually measure up to 5’11” so unless he has great combine I’m not sure the Steelers will look at him that is why I’m leaning towards Gilbert but I have also said I’m not sure either grade out as pure 1st rd talent.

  • Cody Younkin

    this guys is an athletic freak of nature, but he will not drop out of the top15, and if anything the only LB we should take in the first is C.J. Mosley then sign Worilds and dump Woodley.