"It's an absolute no-brainer for the Falcons to select Khalil Mack at No. 6 if he's there." That's what Knox Bardeen said about this edge-rushing talent. And he's right. Outside of Jadeveon Clowney, Atlanta should have Mack as their top target going into the draft.
Mack is an ideal fit for Mike Nolan's scheme and would be the premier edge-rusher for the Falcons. He's someone who could be the focus of the defense and give Atlanta a true multiple front defender at 3-4 outside linebacker and 4-3 defensive end.
University at Buffalo
Height: 6'2-5/8" Weight: 251 pounds
Arm Length: 33-1/4" Hand Measurement: 10-1/4"
40-yard dash: 4.65 sec. 10-yard split: 1.56 sec.
20-yard shuttle: 4.18 sec. Three-cone Drill: 7.08 sec. Bench Reps: 23 reps
Vertical Jump: 40.0" Broad Jump: 10'8"
2013: 13 games played, 100 tackles, 19.0 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, 6 QB hurries, 3 interceptions, 5 fumbles forced, 7 pass deflections, 2 defensive touchdowns
2012: 11 games played, 94 tackles, 20.0 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks, 4 QB hurries, 4 fumbles forced, 2 pass deflections, 1 blocked kick
2011: 12 games played, 65 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 13 QB hurries, 1 interception, 5 fumbles forced, 2 pass deflections, 1 blocked kick
2010: 12 games played, 68 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, 8 QB hurries, 2 fumbles forced, 10 pass deflections
Khalil Mack is an excellent athlete and intelligent, instinctual player. He understands leverage and can play the run very well. He takes great angles to the ball and can stack-and-shed in the running game. He sets the edge effectively and can force runs back inside.
As a pass-rusher, he has a solid rip move and can bend the edge. He's very effective in coverage in short zones and makes plays on the ball. He also has a ton of field vision that allows him to dissect play-action plays quicker than most.
Despite being a good pass-rusher, he only has one legitimate move and needs to learn how to use his hands better. He does rely on his athleticism a bit too much to make plays and could use NFL-caliber coaching to take the next step in his game.
In coverage, he's not someone who can drop deep like a safety the way Kroy Biermann did in 2012. He's also not a great man defender. Ideally, the Falcons don't have to rely on him in coverage and only have him play that role 100-125 plays per season.
How does he fit the Comrade Filter?
Despite getting suspended for a single game in his junior season, Mack eventually became the team captain for the Bulls in his senior year. Atlanta could use someone who is a leader in the locker room after losing Asante Samuel, Stephen Nicholas, John Abraham and Thomas DeCoud in the past two offseasons.
Mack would also add the toughness on the field that Atlanta has been missing from their front seven. He's the ideal Bryan Cox-style defender because of his violent play on the field, and Mike Smith and Mike Nolan should love the intelligence he has on the field.
Mack is the best defender in the 2014 draft not named Clowney. He's going to make a team happy with his Von Miller-level athleticism combined with an aggression that only James Harrison has shown. He's going to impact at the next level early and should be a staple for whoever takes him.
His versatility is also extremely valuable with more and more teams using hybrid and off-kilter defenses. The Falcons would be wise to keep Mack very high on their board. He's going to impact for someone; they may as well make sure it's them.
How he would fit into the Falcons' plans
Atlanta would have to take Mack at No. 6 overall in order to get him on the roster. He's definitely worth that selection and would be a game-changer for their defense. Mike Nolan would use him as a stand-up outside linebacker on both sides of the formation in the 3-4.
His fit in four-man alignments is a bit different. He fits decently as a strong-side linebacker. But his best 4-3 fit would be as a defensive end rushing from the weak side. Atlanta would finally be able to run the perfect Nolan defense with Mack in it.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football, NFL and the NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.
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