Breaking Down Khalil Mack

Khalil Mack had a quiet college career which ended in a blowout loss to San Diego State in The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.  Mack’s team did not have a great season, but Mack himself had his best season ever, finishing with 100 tackles, 19 Tackles for Loss, and 10.5 Sacks.  Before watching him play I thought those were probably empty numbers compiled by beating up on the bottom feeders of the MAC Conference, but I am man enough to admit when I am wrong; Mack is a special player.  The most impressive film of any player I have seen this year is Khalil Mack against Ohio State, he was flat out dominant.

Mack is a Joker, this means he can essentially stand up at outside linebacker and rush the passer in a 3-4 or a 4-3 (Think Von Miller) or he can play 6-tech in a traditional 4-3, or play 9-tech in a wide 9 defense (Think Ezekiel Ansah).  He is a very fluid athlete who makes plays as both a pass rusher and a run defender.  Let’s jump into the tape:


Here Mack is essentially playing a 9-tech, now let’s look at what he does



Mack explodes off the ball and uses a speed rush to beat the right tackle and put pressure on the quarterback.  Mack has elite speed and he knows how to use it.



Mack is so talented that he could even play the SAM in a 4-3, here he shows why.  Mack is in the open field being blocked by a tight end and trying to tackle a player with 4.4 Speed.


Mack Shows his impressive short area quickness by disengaging with the Tight End, breaking down, and making a good form tackle on the elusive running back.

Here Mack is essentially playing a 5-tech, except he is standing up.


Mack utilizes great leverage, he puts the guard on skates and drives him back into the quarterbacks pocket.  He finishes the play with a sack that is erased by a penalty on him for hands on the face mask.  Translating speed to power and using that great leverage will be crucial for Mack at the next level.


If Mack goes to a 4-3 team that wants to use him as a WILL Linebacker he needs to work on stacking and shedding, he doesn’t diagnose the play quick enough and ends up almost catching Baylor’s left tackle, he doesn’t get his hands into the defenders body and shed the block.  This is something Mack needs to work on, it is evident that Baylor saw this and exploited it, Mack will only be more valuable and versatile if he can improve at this.

Here Mack is playing a 6-tech, a weakside linebacker in a 3-4, his assignment is generally outside contain.  Ohio State is throwing a screen pass expecting their LT to be able to chop block Mack, which opens up a passing lane.  Mack was having none of it, Mack  used his quick feet to change direction and quickly leaned down to push off the LT’s back to regain balance, this showed elite balance and short area quickness.  What Mack does next is unbelievable.



After Mack regains his balance his instincts tell him to locate the ball, he looks up and sees Braxton Miller releasing the ball, immediately he flips his hips and takes two quick steps to his left, Mack then catches the ball, and shows off his ridiculous burst by returning the interception for a Touchdown.

Here Mack is again playing the 6-tech, he is One on One with Baylor’s RT.



Make uses a club move to come over the top of the blocker and swat away his arms, Mack can come with a Bull Rush, Speed Rush, or a Swim move which makes him One on One with a RT a major mismatch.


Overall Breakdown of Khalil Mack:


Mack is lightning quick off the ball and has good top end speed.

Mack is developed as a pass rusher and has multiple moves he can go to.

Extremely versatile, can play WILL or SAM in a 3-4, and can play WILL, SAM, 6-tech, or 9-tech in a 4-3.

Incredible instincts, understands what Offensive Lineman are trying to do to him and counters it.

Good form tackler



Can get caught catching blockers when not rushing the passer.

Did not play in coverage often.



Mack is an elite level talent and will be a Top 8 pick in the draft.




NFL Mock Drafts, Big Boards, and Player Breakdowns