We are finally less than a month away from the NFL Draft. Many dynasty fantasy football and real football fans already have their favorite prospects put together into nice, neat lists. Still, some haven’t even begun to look at incoming rookies. Wherever you are in assessing the 2017 NFL rookie class, make sure you don’t miss Marlon Mack from the University of South Florida (USF).
When Marlon Mack’s name gets called at the NFL Draft this run will most likely be the highlight they showcase. There’s a ton to like in just this one run: burst, decisiveness, strength and long speed to finish. But this is just one part of the Marlon Mack story.
Marlon Mack was a highly regarded three-star (four stars according to ESPN) recruit coming out of high school. He had not one, not two, not three, but thirteen different offers from schools all around the country to come play football. And they weren’t just your no-name schools either. Michigan, UCLA, Louisville, Indiana, Iowa State and many others coveted the young stud running back’s skill set.
So why did he choose USF over all of those other awesome opportunities? Well, it apparently came down to Louisville and USF. He visited both. But many believe his high school coach, Johnnie Jones, who was a USF defensive back from 2001-2005, may have had an influence on his decision.
Either way, it worked out for Marlon as he hit the ground running at USF.
Marlon Mack was named the American Athletic Conference’s Rookie of the Year in 2014 after rushing for 1041 yards as a true freshman.
Even better, he was named First Team All-AAC every year he played at USF from 2014-2016.
If that’s not enough to spark some interest, Marlon went on to break the USF records for rushing yards, touchdowns, career 100-yard games, and all-purpose yards. In total Mack owns 14 different USF football records.
Tale of the Tape
Yes, Marlon Mack is a fun prospect to box score scout. But he is also a lot of fun to watch. And rather than you just reading some of my semi-entertaining words I made some fun GIFs for you.
Much of Marlon’s success comes on outside runs. This particular run above is no different. However, unlike many runners that tend to bounce things outside you may notice Marlon doesn’t struggle to bounce off of contact. Mack’s balance at nearly full speed and acceleration from a standstill make him a threat to score on every single play.
Runs like this one do give me hope that Marlon can make the right reads to run successfully inside at the next level. There is literally no hole where the play is designed to go. Marlon adjusts, and with just two quick decisive cuts he emerges from the pile of lineman.
But he doesn’t stop there.
This is a fantastic play that shows Marlon’s legit NFL speed. Admittedly, the linebacker takes a bad angle. But the defensive back pursues nearly perfectly and still can’t finish.
This next run is just funny.
Marlon just leaves two defenders on the ground looking around trying to find where he went. And not only that, he leaves an entire defense in the dust. Just look at how many defenders are five or more yards downfield right before he makes his cut behind the line of scrimmage.
“Okay, yes, GIFs are fun, but those are just highlights.”
You’re right. But the truth is, they’re highlights that show several things you want to see in an NFL running back. And if you watch several games of Marlon you’ll see that plays like these are pretty common.
Although, if you watch his early tape Marlon Mack doesn’t run with the same confidence you’ll see from his junior year games. But Mack clearly progressed throughout his collegiate career. Marlon went from an athlete making some big plays to a running back that brought balance to his game.
Yes, he needs to work on ball security and true inside running, but there’s a lot to like with Marlon Mack.
In many ways, Marlon Mack flashes similarly to LeSean McCoy. If you turn on some old Pittsburgh games you’ll see a running back that runs with similar ferocity to Marlon. Even in the NFL McCoy has been known to pop plays outside for huge gains just like Mack.
Marlon and LeSean are about the same size. And if you watch them back to back they even carry the ball and run with similar style.
They may run about the same speed, but beyond that, Marlon’s athletic profile is actually more impressive than McCoy. LeSean didn’t participate in the NFL Combine beyond his bench press, but let’s just compare his pro day results to Marlon’s Combine.
Both running backs ran a 4.5-second forty, but Marlon’s jumps were far superior. Mack jumped 35.5 inches in the vert and 10’5″ in the broad jump. LeSean only jumped 29 inches in the vert and 8’11” in the broad. If NFL Draft Twitter would have been around when McCoy came out of Pittsburgh people would have been panicking even more than they are now with Dalvin Cook.
Yes, I understand that Marlon Mack has a long way to go before he reaches LeSean McCoy success at the NFL level. There’s no debate there. But given the right landing spot Marlon Mack’s athletic ability and tenacity may prove to be more than enough.
Marlon Mack doesn’t have the same pedigree as some of the other running backs in the 2017 class. And yes, he isn’t the best natural inside runner in this class. However, Marlon’s impressive NFL Combine, college production, fierce running style, decisive cuts, balance and agility all project well for NFL success.
Marlon will probably be taken as early as day two of the NFL Draft. If he lands somewhere with an opportunity for significant snap share early you better hope he is on your roster. You might just be looking at the next LeSean McCoy.
As always, thanks for reading. And feel free to reach me on Twitter @FF_TravisM. I love to chat with and learn from others who love this nerdy hobby as much as I do.