Rookie Spotlight: Marlon Mack, University of South Florida
Indianapolis Colts (4th round)
Height: 5’ 11 3/8”
Weight: 213 lbs
40 yard dash: 4.50 (Combine)
NFL Comparison: Buck Allen
– full-tilt open-field runner
– masterfully elusive
– good vision
– long, smooth stride
– quick to the edge
– seeks to avoid contact too often
– runs upright
– little pro-style experience
Scouting Notes: The 1B “scatback-plus” in the 2017 draft to Dalvin Cook’s 1A, Mack has a very similar player profile to the much lauded FSU back on paper – both are speedy, big-play backs with adroit downfield and open-field vision. When I watch Mack though, I immediately notice some differences in their respective games. Mack has a longer, dare I say smoother, stride when he runs. So much so that he almost looks slow, until you see how he’s leaving his defenders in the dust. He starts out with speed and maintains it, so you don’t get the pop of sudden acceleration that a Cook displays, but Mack is often just as effective – or at least his 6.2 YPC average over three 1,000+ seasons at USF would indicate so. Mack also isn’t as stiff in the hips as Cook is. He’s got the wiggle of a much smaller runner, and Mack can stay on balance upon shifting his body away from contact.
Blessed with enough patience to find his seams on a regular basis, Mack can exploit defenses on any given play, and he’s got a nose for the end zone, scoring 33 times over three seasons. That patience is especially valuable due to the fact that Mack doesn’t do contact well. He doesn’t break tackles well or strong arm defenders, so running around and past them is his best recourse. He waits for his holes, squirts through them, and hopes not to get caught. Mack isn’t a weak or small player, but he runs too upright and presents a lot of surface area to the defense, so it’s hard for him to absorb or deflect contact and keep running.
I wish Mack was more keen to run inside than he is. He tends to head to the sideline on too many occasions, though he can beat most players to the edge, so it pays off for him more often than not. NFL defenders won’t be so easily beaten. His tendency to avoid contact extends to his blocking as well, where he is less than stellar. Mack can work on that though – he’ll have to if we wants to stay on the field for a team that needs desperately to keep Andrew Luck upright – and I imagine he’s going to add more weight to his ample frame with time. He’s also going to have to work on his ball control – another similarity to Cook. Mack fumbled twelve times during his college career, which is in line with his inability to handle contact well. For someone who has ball control issues, Mack has better than average hands as a pass-catcher, though
Fantasy Outlook: Even with his perceived shortcomings, Mack ended up in a system that suits him to a T. He’s on a fast track in Indy. The fact that he comes from a Willie Taggart offense where a QB was never under center won’t hurt him as badly in Indy as Andrew Luck actually took a majority of his 2017 snaps in shotgun. Mack’s weaknesses in being a back who’s shown he doesn’t always run behind his pads or get downhill like a bruiser could stand to be masked to some degree in the Colts scheme. Frank Gore has been on the brink of falling off a cliff for three seasons and the depth chart at the RB position otherwise in Indy is dreadful to put things nicely. Mack may not project as a “true” three-down back based on evaluation alone, but he can be a useful player in the Colts scheme and Indy brass would surely like to think of him as the 1A of the future in a backfield similar to the one in Atlanta with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. He’s a must-own in dynasty and he’ll be a popular late-round upside sleeper in redraft for those thinking this is the year the wheels finally fall off old man Frank Gore.