NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
I promise I am not just watching Running Backs, it just seems that way. In all seriousness, this was the one position I focused on during the season, so I have detailed notes and more game film study on this position than any other. I will be bouncing around to more positions as I finish up some of these other groups, but for now, here is one more Running Back that just might be on the Patriots radar.
Name: Marlon Mack (#5)
School: South Florida (Jr.)
Height: 5’11” (unofficial)
Weight: 205 Lbs. (unofficial)
What stands out most when you watch Mack play is his electric speed. This kid can outrun anyone who is chasing him and he is a legitimate home run threat every time he touches the football. If Mack gets into the open field, teams are going to have a very difficult time catching him, even in the NFL. Mack shows good patience as a runner; allowing for running lanes to open before he shoots through them with excellent burst and explosion. He also has good vision to find the smallest of seams when things don’t develop accordingly. He has good size for the position and has a frame that can handle some extra bulk added to it. I really like his footwork as well. He shows the ability to change the pacing of his steps without sacrificing momentum and balance. Mack has good strength and can fight through arm tackles.
Mack is an upright runner, which leaves him exposed to taking bigger hits. He also had a limited role as a pass catcher and pass protector, so he will have to learn that at the next level if he wants to stay on the field on all three downs. Mack likes to bounce his runs outside and had a lot of success in college, but even with his speed, he will not find consistent success doing so in the NFL. South Florida primarily ran the read option out of the shotgun formation, so Mack will have to learn to play in a more traditional NFL style. Mack consistently tried to run around or away from defenders rather than lowering his shoulder and fighting for the tough yard. Mack has also had ball security issues in college and that in of itself may take him off the Patriots board.
Mack is an interesting player to say the least. He has such electric speed that he seems like he could score every time he touches the ball. He has good size and can break away from arm tackles, but he tends to avoid contact if he can and that leads to unproductive runs. In college, he could rely on his speed and have success, but he will need to refine his technique at the next level to have sustained success. I also worry about how upright he runs and how that will affect him as an in between the Tackles runner. He is a work in progress with some special traits and may be best used in a system similar to what the Falcons run with Freeman and Coleman. He is an early Day 3 guy who could be very intriguing if he goes to the right system.