FanPost

The Case for Khalil Mack

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Those of you who read my articles know that I am high on this University at Buffalo product since the start of the year for good reason. Mack is the school’s leading pass rusher and is close to the NCAA record for most tackles for loss (TFL) and has the most forced fumbles (FF) in a collegiate career. More so, Mack’s draft stock is on the rise with a solid senior year and is even in the top 10 of some boards.

Right now the Bills are currently at a top-10 pick (7), but even if they don't finish there (given their easy schedule) he'd be worth trading up for. Here’s the case for Khalil.

BILLS DRAFT NEEDS

The Bills could do with a tight end, linemen and a tall receiver in the upcoming draft offensively. On defense though, things are not as clear so let’s look at the key groups of linemen, linebackers, corners and safeties.

Starting with the defensive line, the Bills have two studs between pro-bowler Kyle Williams and nose tackle Marcell Dareus. Next to them, the Bills have started Alex Carrington (until being placed on IR) and Alan Branch; both have starting potential with Carrington showing a ton of upside this year, but both are free agents.

Mario has been on a torrid pace this year as the Jack linebacker with 11 sacks and spend most of the time rushing the passer. His primary backup and switch SLB is Jerry Hughes who has started to heat up late with 6 sacks. The person he shares reps with is Manny Lawson, a solid run defender with 47 tackles so far.

In the middle is rookie Kiko Alonso who is having a heck of a first season with the Bills notching 99 tackles, 2 sacks and 4 picks so far this year. Next to him is Arthur Moats (who splits reps with Bradham), who has 47 tackles so far, but teams like to run at him.

The defensive backs are hard to judge due to injuries, but the Bills have decent starting corners in Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin. Rookie Nickell Robey has been a delightful nickel-back addition and has bumped Ron Brooks to dime back.

Meanwhile, Aaron Williams has been an underrated strong safety due to his splitting time at corner earlier. Jairus Byrd is trying to get to the pro-bowl, but amid contract havoc with his franchise tag, will likely be gone (unless the Bills tag him again and/or give him a big raise). The heir to be is Da’Norris Searcy who has had ups and downs this year, but has been a good blitzing safety with 2.5 sacks so far. We could also see Duke Williams in the mix next year, but he has had limited reps so far.

Free agency may impact where the Bills draft, but first round safeties are very hit or miss and like with the 3-4 DE, can be addressed easily with a later pick in this year’s draft.

SO WHY MACK?

Khalil Mack has a good build for a 3-4 outside linebacker. He is 6-3, weighs 248 lbs. and is expected run around a 4.65 40 yard dash. Mack is great at bull rushes, but he still could add some muscle (which he has) to help shred some blocks. If you hadn’t guessed, I’d want Mack to line up at the SLB position (currently held by Lawson and Hughes).

Lawson can kick over to the WLB while Hughes remains a pass rush specialist. Mack offers big gains in pass rush, run defense and can defend the pass. Bruce Smith recently said, this is the best defensive line the Bills have ever had, but the weakness is at linebacker. Essentially, Mack becomes the KC equivalent of Justin Houston or Tamba Hali in their 3-4 defense, a great pass rusher/blitzer, but can go into coverage when needed. KC's success on defense this year lies in their linebacker corps for dialing up pressure, defending the run and defending the pass.

Need more convincing… Look at these awesome stats Khalil has accumulated.

Mack Stats

Tackles

TFLs

Sacks

Hurries

FFs

INTs

PDs

2013

82

16.5

10.5

6

5

3

6

2012

94

20.0

8.0

4

4

0

2

2011

65

20.5

5.5

13

5

1

2

2010

68

14.5

4.5

8

2

0

10

Totals

309

71.5

28.5

31

16*

4

20

*denotes new FBS record for most in history (previous was 14)

What’s even more impressive is that Mack has been subjected to multiple blockers given all the national attention he’s been getting. Second, wherever Mack has lined up (he’s all over the place), teams have been running away from him. Thirdly, the coaches have been having Mack defend the pass more, meaning that he has been lining up farther from line of scrimmage than he has since his freshman year at times.

Mack has put together a solid performance this year and from what I’ve seen of him playing, is even more disruptive than the numbers he’s been credited. He also has 2 blocked kicks. This year, 2 of his 3 interceptions have been returned for touchdowns, and all his picks have been for sizeable gains. He also had a big game against now #3 Ohio State who is noted for good offensive linemen. Oh yeah, he’s a turnover machine!!

Need more convincing? Mack, as of November 15, stands as the #6 on the CBS Sports top players draft board overall behind 3 QBs and DEs Jadeveon Clowney and Anthony Barr. Walter’s Football correspondent Charlie Campbell and Walter actually has Mack going to the Bills in the first. Dane Brulger and Rob Rang of CBS Sports have him going 8th to the Giants in their mock drafts. The only problem is that Mack’s star may be rising too much meaning a team could take Khalil before the Bills can!

He also has four years of experience in playing in western New York weather. He is also likely to attract a small fan following which could serve to bolster ticket sales (remember 2 of the last 3 games needed help to be sellouts).

All in all, Khalil Mack will get a strong look at by the Doug Marrone and Doug Whaley. He has enormous upside, a multifunctional skill set perfect for hybrid defenses and has a proven collegiate career. Match him up with our defensive line and Alonzo, and you just might will have a top-10 defense by the end of next year. I'd trade up for him or grab him if he's available.

Go Bills!

Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of BuffaloRumblings.com.

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