Khalil Mack Answers Leadership Question, Talks Video Game Motivation
Byron Lambert, RosterWatch.com
Khalil Mack, OLB Buffalo enters the 2014 NFL Draft highly acclaimed for his athleticism. The great Mike Mayock, of NFLN, has suggested that Mack should be the number one overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft.
Scouts we have spoken with are equally as impressed with his athletic ability. However, they have expressed concerns about his leadership ability and locker room character. Whispers out of Buffalo have outlined a few incidents that red flag the scouts.
We recently asked Mack directly about his ability to lead a locker room. He gave us the answers. While ,he also told us how the NCAA Football video game has directly motivated him in real life, and much more:
Khalil Mack, OLB Buffalo
Transcribed by Byron Lambert, PFWA
Q: How do you think your versatility compares to some of the other top defenders in the draft this year?
A: My versatility helps me in a lot of ways. If you have a guy who can rush the passer, as well as
drop in coverage- that covers two of the big issues on the defense
Q: How much do you think your performance against Ohio State helps you?
A: A lot, especially being the first game of the season. It helped with the stage, I feel like there was
a lot of people watching that game. It helped me tremendously
Q: How much does it mean to you that your name is in the records books (forced fumbles + tackles for loss) at Buffalo,
and that future players will be striving for the marks you set?
A: No doubt about it, it’s great to be recognized as a record holder in the NCAA history, but at the same time it took
a lot of hard work and some good teammates over the years to help me get to that point
Q: How do you feel about some of the praise you have been getting? Like the #1 overall pick in the draft by guys like Mike Mayock?
A: Oh, Mike Mayock is the man. He’s the man, I want to prove him right. I’ve been working hard this past 5-6 weeks and
I’m ready to grind and get out there to work out
Q: How do you feel about rushing the passer with your hand in the ground?
A: I love it. I love it. I talked to a couple of coaches already and told them I can play defensive end if they need me to.
Q: Bucs talk to ya? Buccaneers, have they talked to you?
A: I’ve been talking to a lot of teams, especially the past two days. But, at the same time I’m not going to be too specific about anything
Q: What is it about Buffalo? They seemed to have produced some good NFL players recently
A: Uh, we have good talent. We have good talent. We have great coaches that have been there. We had coach Turner Gill there recruiting me.
Coach Jeff Quinn came in and stamped us with a great staff. Coach Lou Tepper was my linebackers coach for the four years I was there.
And, um, I feel like they help us get ready for this great league.
Q: Khalil, can you talk a little about the story where your rating in a video game helped you choose your number?
A: Um, no doubt, the NCAA video game- the first one that came out I was only rated a 46 overall w/ a 37 rating for speed, and it was a
slap in the face man. Because, I knew deep down in my heart I was better than a 46. And, it just so happened, I was already #46 and I kept the number.
Q: What were you rated last year? (NCAA video game)
Q: Do you think that’s a fair rating?
A: Who knows, but at the same time I’ll take it
Q: Khalil, when you get to points like this in your career- a stepping stone- you’re here at Lucas Oil at the Combine with all these scouts
watching you- when you think back on coach Wimberly and his decision and how things could have been so much different- do you ever sit back
and allow yourself to think about the “what-ifs”?
A: I can’t, I can’t think about what-ifs. I feel like I’m blessed to be in the position I’m in. I feel like it was God’s will that I ended up
in Buffalo- so everybody’s asking me- from Florida to Buffalo- why, why? Um, it was God’s will. I feel like he placed me there, and I’m in the position I’m in now.
Q: Your 46 rating in this video game, did you ever imagine this?
A: Hard work pays off. Hard work pays off, man. It ‘s been a grind. I didn’t stop working, I wanted to keep getting better.
And, I knew that 46 rating would at least rise a couple of points over the years.
Q: Khalil, what would the guys in the locker room say about you as a teammate?
A: I feel like it’s a brotherhood in the locker room as far as I’m concerned. A lot of those guys, I love them like my brothers. All of those guys,
I play to my last- I give it my all for everyone of those guys, and I let them know that every chance I got. Especially, being a leader on that team.
Q: Ohio State game- what was working well?
A: I got a lot of single blocks and it just so happened I played off of a cut-block and got an interception. So, there were a lot of things that
played into my favor in that game. Hard work does pay off.
Q: Did you get any sense that they didn’t know you were that good until they saw you?
A: I feel it was, sort of, a little disrespect from a schematic approach. But, at the same time I wanted to make them pay for it.
Q: Khalil, what can you prove here that you haven’t shown already on film?
A: Wow, that’s a good question. I can show that I have good feet and good hands. Really, I feel I’ve shown all I could on film,
and hopefully I can stamp it this weekend.
Q: What did you measure at, height weight?
A: I measured at 6’2.5″ and 251 lb.
Q: Are you happy with that?
A: Uh, that’s pretty solid. That’s pretty solid. It doesn’t matter- height, weight- I just play football
Q: What is going to be the toughest part about the transition to the NFL?
A: The toughest transition is going to be getting to know grown men in a professional environment. I feel like that’s always going to be difficult
at first, especially hearing some of the rookies that come down to Tom Shaws and tell us about the stories that they get from the vets, and all those
different things,so- it’s going to be a transition but I feel like football-wise I’m ready to step in and make an impact anyway I can
Q: Comparison to an NFL player?
A: I don’t like those questions, because I don’t want to be compared to anybody. At the same time, there’s a lot of guys that I look up to and try
to mimic my game after- as far as Von Millers and Clay Mathews and Aldon Smiths and all those guys that get in the backfield, as well as get their
hands on the ball and try to take it to the house.
Q: Have you talked to the Falcons?
A: I talked to a lot of teams
Q: Khalil, are you running? Do you have any expectations?
A: Yes, yes I’m running. I have an expectation, but I don’t like to set a limit on myself- so I’m going to be surprised along with y’all
Q: You named a lot of 3-4 guys there that you look at, what do you feel about playing a 4-3? Are there any guys you like there?
A: Like I told you, uh yeah- Julius Peppers and whoever else you want me to name. I look at all of them, and I’m looking forward to learning from
those guys and getting a chance to meet some of them
Q: You said you’re comfortable playing with your hand in the dirt, do you have a preference?
A: I don’t. I don’t. And, I don’t want to limit myself to just playing one specific thing. I feel like that’s the biggest thing for me. I try to
workout, when I workout with the defensive ends, I work out with the linebackers, I also go over and workout with the DBs- just to stay fresh.
I work hard, and I want to stay loose and don’t want to put a limit on myself.
Q: What do you think, whatever happens on draft day will probably be a pretty special day at Buffalo. What do you think that can do for the program?
A: That’s going to be a special day for me, as well. But, at the sometime, the program I feel is already blossoming into something special down there
with coach Quinn, and coach Lou Tepper and all those guys. Even though they’ve had some coaching changes I feel like it’s still going to be a solid
solid thing for them to see, especially for the guys who are there now to get a chance to experience this along with
me because those are my brothers and I love all of them
Q: You’ve mentioned being disrespected a couple of times by the NCAA football game, and all that stuff- Mike Mayock says you could be the first pick
in the draft, what then keeps you motivated when you’re not being disrespected at all?
A: Uh, Mike Mayock again- I love him. But, even then I just want to keep proving myself. I want to be the best. I don’t know who all you guys talk to,
but in anything- my Dad always taught me, man- he told me you want to be the best at anything and everything that you do. And, I strive to be the best
at anything I do- weather it was raking the leaves growing up, or whether it was playing tic-tac-toe with my brothers, whether is was kicking the ball
in the dirt with a can on the ground and you had to kick the can- we did stupid things but we wanted to be the best at it, and that’s the reason I am so competitive
Q: Was there a point in college where you said “you know what, I can be a first round pick”?
A: No doubt- seeing guys like James Starks and Naaman Roosevelt- they gave me confidence and they told me the first couple of days I got to Buffalo
“you’re good, you’re good” – even though I’m looking up to them like oh man you’re telling my I’m good, you’re good, you’re great. But, at the same
time it gave me that confidence. And, I wanted to get better. I had the attitude that I wanted to get better. I didn’t want to settle for that compliment.
I wanted to rise above stand prove them to be right, as well as myself