Dynasty Prospect Profile: Marlon Mack
Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida
Weight: 213 pounds
(percentile rank among all RBs at the Combine since 1999, courtesy of mockdraftable.com):
40-yard dash: 4.5 seconds (67th)
Vertical: 35.5 inches (64th)
Broad: 125 inches (89th)
20-yard shuttle: DNP
Mack arrived at USF after a high school career that saw him star at both RB and safety in Florida. His college career quickly took off as well.
As a freshman, Mack led the American Athletic Conference in rushing. He enjoyed that so much that he repeated it in his sophomore campaign. Only a decline in rushing volume pushed him down to 5th as a junior in 2016. (QB Quinton Flowers led the team in carries, while fellow junior RB D’Ernest Johnson claimed a larger rushing role.)
Mack certainly didn’t suffer for productivity. Six of his 12 rushing scores came from 43+ yards away, and he surpassed 100 rushing yards in 7 of 12 contests.
Over his final 2 seasons, Mack fell short of 5.0 yards per carry in just 6 of 24 contests—2 of them against Florida State. He averaged 100.3 yards per game across 36 outings to leave school as the all-time rushing leader.
Mack’s above-average performance at the NFL Scouting Combine in February earned him a SPARQ score in the 62nd percentile among NFL RBs, 5th best at the position in this year’s draft class. His 4.5-second 40 at 213 pounds also earned him the group’s 5th-best Speed Score.
(Courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com)
Games watched: Temple (2015), Florida State, Connecticut, UCF
The 1st thing likely to jump out at you if you watch a Mack game is the speed.
It’s not just that he can run. There will be faster guys on the field. But Mack’s impressive acceleration left me surprised that he didn’t run even better than his solid 4.5 at the Combine.
Even at the end of that 57-yard TD against Temple, Mack is pulling away from a pursuing CB. Same deal in the next one (from the same game).
Perhaps he just feasted on slow-ish Owls cover men? Nah. You can check other games and find Mack similarly killing pursuit angles at the 2nd and 3rd levels.
This clip further accentuates Mack’s acceleration. Watch him sort through a bit of trash at the line of scrimmage before hitting another home run.
Mack doesn’t flash a lot of power in the games I watched, but he is capable of breaking a few tackles before finishing off a big one as well.
Besides the speed, Mack does bring nice agility. He’s not the niftiest runner in the class but can create opportunities and beat individual defenders with jukes in the open field.
I didn't, however, see notable patience to wait for developing blocks or the ability/willingness to plow ahead when only a short gain was available.
Mack also posted strong receiving numbers across 3 seasons with the Bulls. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein said the back showed improved hands in his junior campaign. USF coaches also showed that they trusted Mack as a downfield target in the passing game.
This 1st clip finds the RB getting behind the secondary—only to watch his QB underthrow for an INT.
Fortunately, Mack got another chance to snatch a deep throw later in the same game.
Mack actually drew another deep target earlier in that game, but the QB slightly overthrew him amid tight coverage. USF mixed such WR-type looks in with plenty of other more typical RB passing looks such as designed screens.
I didn’t see enough of Mack in pass protection to assess his ability there, but I also have yet to read of any liability in that area. The former Bull seems likely to contribute to 3rd-down packages.
NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks says Mack sports “outstanding vision, balance and body control.” He adds that Mack “runs through arm tackles at the point of attack and flashes enough lower-body strength to drag tacklers at the end of the runs (while offering) sneaky wiggle and burst.”
I certainly agree with the wiggle, and I see Mack particularly standing up to tackle attempts in the secondary. I didn’t see noteworthy strength between the tackles among the 4 games I watched, though. Zierlein also dings Mack for “inconsistent” power and being too ready to try to bounce runs outside. (A bit of Bryce Brown Syndrome?)
Even more so than the top runners in this class, Mack’s fantasy outlook will depend on where he lands. If he gets behind a solid to strong O-line that can deliver consistent holes, then Mack can turn into a home-run threat that you’ll probably love to watch. He clearly sports the receiving skills to get involved in the passing game soon.
Some teams might view him as more of a 3rd-down back than a 3-down back, however—depending on how they judge his inside running. Bucky Brooks said he sees some Jordan Howard, but I don’t.
Howard in college looked like a brute with potentially questionable speed. Mack looks like a speedster with questionable power.
That said, I only watched a few games of each player—undoubtedly fewer than Brooks did. And the whole NFL apparently missed on Howard, who went from 5th-round pick to league’s 2nd-leading rusher in his 1st season.
Mockdraftable points to Bernard Pierce as Mack’s top comparison, which I can see. Pierce flashed at times with the Ravens but couldn’t quite put it all together.
Mack averaged 0.8 more yards per carry in college than Pierce and caught 46 more passes. He’ll arrive as a more accomplished back. We’ll see if he presents a higher ceiling. I’d bet on him settling in as more of a complementary runner in a duo/committee than a featured back. (Of course, that’s the way of most backfields at this point.)One final issue that might annoy NFL coaches: Mack fumbled 12 times across his 3 USF seasons.