Today marks the first day of work at the Combine for the linebackers group; and while that work may just be weighing in and going through a medical evaluation, it's a perfect time to take a look at the workouts and other activities that Khalil Mack will be participating in over the next few days.
The Combine is especially important for Mack if he wants to become a serious candidate for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Draft Guru Mike Mayock of NFL.com recently came out and said the he would take Mack with the No. 1 pick. The Combine is where former Central Michigan star Eric Fisher vaulted himself into consideration for the No. 1 pick and Mack can do the same with a great performance both on and off the field.
What to Watch For:
The bench press is much more than a test of pure strength, it's a test of endurance of strength. We've all seen Mack throw around offensive tackles like they're weightless, and he plays with a motor that's unequaled so he should impress on the bench. Linebackers usually produce around 25 repetitions, so I think that is the bare minimum we can expect out of Mack; however, I would not be surprised to see him put up around 30 or more reps.
40 Yard Dash
The 40 yard dash time is usually relied heavily on when evaluating receivers and running backs, but, the 40 will come into play this weekend for Khalil Mack. Mack's 40 time itself won't really have much impact, but his 10 yard split time will be what scouts are looking at the most. When looking at a linebacker, they usually play within a 10-15 yard range on the field, so the burst in the 10 yard split is very indicative of the kind of athlete a linebacker is and not necessarily the entire 40 time. Mack has shown on tape that he has an explosive first step that rivals some of the NFL's best pass rushers, so he can validate what he shows on tape at the 40 yard dash. I would expect Mack to run in the 4.5-4.6 range.
While this isn't an actual workout, the team interviews that Mack has will arguably be the most important part of his experience at the Combine. This will be Mack's chance to sit down 1-on-1 with General Managers, Team Presidents, and Head Coaches and convince them that he will fit in their system and answer any questions that the team representatives may have. The interviews allow team representatives to get an up-close and personal look at who a player really is and if that player will fit in their locker room and fit in with the coaching staff's philosophy. Finally, it will be Mack's chance to show the Texans why he should be the No. 1 pick.
This will be Mack's true place to shine and separate himself from the rest of the pack at the Combine. While the bench, and 40, and the other drills that take measurable data are good for evaluating a prospect's athleticism, they don't really show that the prospect is good on the field. There have been many workout warriors that falter on the field drills, but Mack will shine out on the field where he's the most natural. He'll get the chance to stand toe-to-toe with the best pass rushers in the country and prove that he's the best out on the field, and it'll be fun to watch.
So there's a few things to watch for this weekend at the NFL Scouting Combine while Khalil Mack is participating. With a very strong all-around performance Mack may vault himself into No. 1 overall consideration; so, stay tuned for more analysis and updates throughout the weekend right here on Bull Run. And be sure to check out our Mock Draft series (written by yours truly). I'll be releasing an updated version after the Combine concludes.