Warming To Khalil Mack

February 19th, 2014

Khalil Mack

Joe has read many, many, many mock drafts by learned NFL analysts suggesting the Bucs draft an outside linebacker, specifically Khalil Mack of Buffalo.

Joe simply did not understand this. First, there is simply, no way the Bucs are looking to replace Lavonte David. Mack is not a middle linebacker. And on the other side, Dekoda Watson and Johnathan Casillas only manned the position for roughly 40 percent of the defensive snaps.

The rest of the defensive plays were in a nickel package where there were only two linebackers on the field.

Joe would hate for the Bucs to draft a guy at linebacker and try to transform him into a full-time, hand-in-the-dirt defensive end. Can he play the run with a hand in the dirt?

So, why in the world would would the Bucs spend the seventh pick in the draft on a part-time player?

Well, maybe because Mack wouldn’t be a part-time player. That’s the word from NFL analyst Mike Mayock. The pied piper of draftniks, Mayock conducted an exhaustive three-hour teleconference yesterday talking. He believes Mack is such a special player, that if the Bucs drafted him, he would never come off the field, so Mayock answered a question about Mack and the Bucs.

Q. Wondering about Khalil Mack, could he fit into a 4-3 scheme much like the Buccaneers are going to play, or do you think he’s strictly an outside linebacker and a 3-4?

MAYOCK: No, I think he could play with his skill set and his ability to drop, his ability to… I think he could play SAM or WILL to be honest with you. He’s 6-3, 248. You could line him up on a tight end and he’d be okay.

I think the important thing is that if you are drafting him as a 4 3 team you have to make sure that in nickel and sub situations, you’re freeing him up to go get the quarterback and in today’s NFL, because of the versatility in defenses, I think that’s fine. 4-3 teams are doing all kind of different things in sub packages, and I think the most important — I think that’s why I kind of changed the way I, the verbiage I use, and just call them edge shots — I think he’s the most — after [Jadeveon] Clowney – I think he’s the most gifted edge guy in this class, and I think regardless of your scheme, you need to draft them and play them.

If Mayock thinks Mack, in certain sub-packages, is an every-down player, who the hell is Joe to argue? So Joe is starting to warm to this concept of Mack being drafted at No. 7 — though Joe is hoping beyond hope someone at One Buc Palace has an epiphany and goes out and gets Johnny Football.

Joe could live with Mack playing linebacker and defensive end. And if this guy is that good, imagine him and David playing together? Wow.

58 Responses to “Warming To Khalil Mack”

  1. P'cola Buc Says:

    Mack, Barr or Watkins….. One of these should fall down to us. Highest quality talent and wouldn’t mind any of them. Of course this is if we don’t trade down.
    Still I fall asleep telling myself ….”If only we could have lost just one more game….and we would have a decent chance at taking a franchise QB”.

  2. lurker Says:

    1. qb
    2. watkins
    3. mack, clowney, ot

    top 3 wants at draft

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    We will probably have a shot at a choice of two of these three.

    Watkins, Barr, Mack

    I like trading down for extra picks….but I would be happy with any of these three!!! They all have elite potential.

  4. P'cola Buc Says:


    Would you trade up to secure your #1 wish for QB?

  5. Patrick in VA Says:

    If all we’re left with at 7 is an o lineman then I say move back. Otherwise, there is plenty of great talent there that will help us for a lot of years

  6. P'cola Buc Says:

    @ TBBF

    I agree with you. I kinda even prefer Barr over Clowney. Concerned that Clowney may have some “Motivation” issues down the line. Barr appears not to have these issues…and we need to choose wisely having the #7 pick.

  7. flmike...hates Johnny Football Says:

    I’ve been on the Mack train since the beginning, he’s a beast and with his skill set he will only improve our defense, my only trepidation is he might be a little light to put his hand in the ground, I’d rather see him as a stand-up edge rusher versus actually getting down in a stance, his advantage comes from his speed and the power he’s able to generate off that speed.

  8. MattHorse Says:

    He’ll be used like Von Miller.

    DE on passing downs
    LB on first and second downs

    He wouldn’t come off the field

    Not sure who’s better out of Barr or Mack though???

  9. mavsmoney Says:

    Two thoughts Joe.

    The first: You keep saying that our opposite linebacker was only on the field 40% of the time, but that was under a different regime. How often was that same position on the field for Lovies D? That is what we should compare it with.

    The second: If we trust Lovie to scheme according to the players he has (ie Revis) why doesn’t that same theory hold true for Mack? If he is truly as talented as Mayock believes, he is exactly the player we need to disrupt the quarterback. And we can’t count out moving Foster to SAM.

  10. Meh Says:

    Mack is better than Barr. Barr is slipping down draft boards fast as people watch more of his film.

  11. Touchdown Gus Says:

    My draft wishes. 1. Bridgewater falls
    2. Sammy Watkins falls. 3. Trade down. 4. Anthony Barr( a linebacker that is versatile enough to play all three linebacker positions.

  12. Buxfann Says:

    Better off drafting CJ Mosley from Alabama as an inside LB. Then you could move Mason Foster to his natural position, the outside

  13. Filmdontlie Says:

    Watch Mack’s film vs, OSU or in the bowl game. He’s a complete LB that can fit any scheme and play every down. He’s easily a top 5 talent in this draft, maybe even top 3, as he’s basically Von Miller minus the insane 1st-step quickness.

    Bucs desperately need an edge rusher and Mack is one of only 3 that look NFL ready (Clowney & Dee Ford the other 2). In our system he’d play over the TE at SAM and rush from a 2-pt stance on passing downs. Seems like a no-brainer pick to me although I’d be tempted to take Matthews or Robinson if either fell.

    Watkins is also a top talent but it’s easier to find impact WRs than edge rushers. Scarcity is the name of the game if you want value in the draft.

  14. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:

    If Mayock’s dissertation from yesterday and this is the deepest draft in 10 years, then I say let’s trade down 3-5 spots (if we have a trade partner), pick up one or two extra picks and still get a darn good player.

  15. BucsfaninChina Says:

    @Joe if the Bucs don’t pull a miracle and land Johnny Football who would be the next best guy the Bucs could snag at 7?

    I just think at this point, whether it is the two LTs, Mack, Watkins, any of the QBs….. we are sitting in a very pretty spot.

  16. Filmdontlie Says:

    @MattHorse Barr has superior length and athleticism but he’s raw so it doesn’t translate. Mack is just a much better football player with few if any holes in his game. Barr was practically invisible in most of the games i saw, but I still love his upside outside of the top 10

  17. Patrick in VA Says:

    Was the rest of the Texas a&m line awful? Seems to me like JF wouldn’t have been doing so much running around if such a highly rated lineman as Matthews was keeping the pocket clear. I realize he’s not the only one there but were the others that bad?

  18. Nate_tweetz Says:

    I will NOT be excited if we pick Mack at 7. If Clowney fell to us (by some miracle) at 7, he would be the only defensive player I would select. If he’s not there we HAVE TO address the offense. Watkins would be a dream. If not him, drop back in the round, acquire more picks and show off the scouting department’s skills by drafting quality guys the rest of the way. Our defense was not that bad last year compared to our horrible offense. I think both phases of the game are going to improve under this coaching staff, but I think it’s pretty clear which side of the ball needs the most help. On defense we had 2 probowlers and one 1st team all-pro along with other solid players like Goldson, Barron, and foster. On offense you got an aging VJ and Martin. That’s it.

  19. Yar Says:

    Clowney at all cost.

    If not then Matthews, Watkins at 7.

    If not trade down a little and C.J. Mosley, Lovie needs his MLB move Foster to SLB.

    Absolutely no QB in 1st and NO Johnny Tinkerbell ever, his game won’t work in the NFL.

  20. BucsQcCity Says:

    My preferences


  21. T in Orlando Says:

    @ mavsmoney

    Not to speak for Joe, but just about NFL defenses play with 5 or DBs on about 55% of the defensive snaps, so Joe’s estimate of 40% is probably still accurate, or close enough for his point.

  22. Patrick in VA Says:

    I’d live to see Kelvin Benjamin come to us in a later round. Side was stout at fsu

  23. Macabee Says:

    The difference of opinion here only assures that we are going to get a talented and needed player at #7.

    Clowney is not going to fall to us and I don’t think we have enough ammo to go after him.

    Watkins is a game changer, pure and simple. My first choice.

    Greg Robinson would take our run game to another level and help Glennon immensely.

    CJ Moseley as Mike is a 3 down backer that would be critical to Lovie’s Cover 2 styled defense.

    Khalil Mack and Lavonte David roaming the field at the same time is a deadly combination.

    If the Bucs traded down and took TE Eric Ebron, how could I be unhappy with that.

    Like I said, Can’t miss unless we’re trying to. Go Bucs!

  24. Snook Says:

    Maybe with our new helmets and enhanced logo, this team will make a splash move and move up to draft Johnny Football…

  25. Patrick in VA Says:

    If we got Mack, Benjamin and Murray in this draft I think we’d be in a good place. With help from FA of course

  26. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Watkins is a bad investment in my book. Not because he won’t be successful, but because we can get a WR in round 2 that is NEARLY as good or better.

    My preference in positions are DE (unless one is acquired in FA), QB, OT, OG in the first round. No trades.

    Every year one of the top QBs slips in the draft and someone gets a bargain. I expect that to happen this year as well.

  27. MattHorse Says:

    CJ Mosley would probably make more sense. He excels in pass coverage.

    We need a good mike for Lovies system

  28. ROBERT6 Says:

    I’d say unless a top 5 talent drops to us in a position of need, take him.

    otherwise trade the pick. we need depth in the worst way.

    NE seems to trade back a good bit. maybe they have a better scouting group for the deeper picks. I sometimes wonder why teams don’t go VERY, VERY deep in the mid to late rounds on guys under the radar. this would help them being able to get better value and build their bench for years to come. we seem to always get later picks that never work out, and by later I mean, round 3 and back…..

    we did have some pretty darn good drafts the last 2 years though!!!

  29. ROBERT6 Says:

    the idea of having a von miller type player/scheme would be awesome

  30. louden Says:

    Not sure if Mack is worth the 7th. 1st Barr is far more value because he can realy play LB (instincts and stuff) + rush the pass. Mack could be a great rusher (his speciality) but you can easily draft a rush specialist with later picks also; no need “to waste” a 7th for a (almost) pure rusher + he has played in a lower conference – he would suddenly have to play against real pro´s… i am just not sure if it is all just a little too much hype about him.

  31. louden Says:

    same on Ebron. While i think he is a very good talent – TE Safarian-Jenkins is also very very good – so i think Ebron wouldn´t be good value at the 7th pick (while you could get more or less equal talent 10-20 picks later

  32. mavsmoney Says:

    @T in Orlando

    I realize that in todays passing league, most teams go with a nickel package, but that isn’t what I asked. I’m asking what percentage of the snaps the SAM linebacker was on the field during Lovie’s tenure in Chicago.

  33. rush Says:

    Cj Mosely …Foster to slow and has been a liability in the middle. CJ could be plugged right in and be a force.

  34. P'cola Buc Says:

    If we stay at #7 we will have an elite player. The biggest difference in this year’s draft would be the higher quality coaching staff. Still imagine where we would be today if we only lost one more game and picking at # 3!

  35. flrocker1 Says:

    I love all this talk about trading down like its an absolute IF we decide to do it. The fact is you have to have someone that would want to trade up. And unless there is a prize worth trading up for I doubt we would have any dance partners. Besides, that prize pick is probably something we need anyways.

  36. P'cola Buc Says:

    I mean the biggest difference in this year’s win-loss record will be the coaching staff.

  37. Architek Says:

    If he can hunt – then draft him and let him hunt!

  38. Fb Says:

    So JOE takes an article about drafting a LB/DE, and still finds a way to hint that he would like the bucs to somehow TRADE Up to get Johnny football, who is not a sure thing according to most scouts. forget Glennon, the man crush on Jonny football is getting a little disturbing. He won’t be there at seven, not worth trading for…. Please come back to reality Joe!! We want the good articles again!

  39. bucs4lyfe Says:

    Unless he can put his hands in the dirt at defensive in this would be a wasted pick for the bucs if they drafted him….sort of like mike glennon pick linebackers are set, sam linebacker doesnt play enough in a passing league when you run a 4-3, great player just not a need for us, isnt that like picking up an upgrade of steven means. linebacker is not a need, that was the most consistent playing unit on the defense last year probably the entire team and when you think about the picks lavonte and foster got, the sacks for lavonte, how tight those two are there is nowhere to put the guy who is going to be a day one starter for someone

  40. Drew Says:

    Joe, the title should’ve read “I Love me some JF”. Without failure when writing about the draft you hang and praise his jock strap at the Jf alter for all to see and worship. While chanting Man Crush, Man Crush, Man Crush.

  41. Glennon Mob Says:

    Joe, why can’t he play middle linebacker? He has the perfect size for it.

  42. DontBucNH8 Says:

    Clowney,Watkins or trade down. No QB at #7!!!!! I hate to say it, but I’d bring back Freeman before I took anyone of those top “3 QBs” that’s how much I DON’T believe in Bridgewater, Manzeil, or Bortles. If Mack is there, we’ll have a trade partner Ravens, Steelers, Jets.I still like the idea of Foster maybe moving to SLB.

  43. SAMCRO Says:

    I don’t have enough info on K. Mack to make my own assessment but if there is one talent evaluator I trust the most, it is Mayock. I think there will be available at #7 one of the top prospects that will slip back. Maybe one of the QB’s, OT, or Watkins. I wouldn’t think we would choose one of them over Mack first, but who knows, maybe Lovie and Licht have him targeted.

  44. Rob Says:

    Bridgewater, Clowney, Watkins, Mack.

    I’m just hoping one or more of those guys is there at 7.

  45. Eric Says:

    More than one expert has said this guy is the best defensive player in the draft. Super athlete with a chip on his shoulder. Surely Lovie would know how to play him.

    This 7 spot is an interesting one. Should be able to get near the number one prospect at a position but hard to get to the top level QB.

    Lovie may not be able to resist a guy like this. Who knows might go defense in round two also and were really playing like its 1999.

    Gonna be interesting, sure wish we had not defeated the Dolphins.

  46. deminion Says:

    Mack is light years ahead off Barr it’s not even close… Watkins or Mack please!!! Or trade down and get Cj Moseley

  47. dougy balls Says:

    mack could play SAM and then slide to DE when we go into a nickel package / dime

  48. MattHorse Says:

    Just had a thought about Licht.

    Someone correct me if this is wrong but isn’t he from the Patriot family working with Belicheat?

    They used to love trading down and stockpiling draft picks to try and get the maximum amount of value. He’s already said he’s going to look for value in free agency so why should that be different in the draft?

    If there’s any potential trade partners I think there’s a good chance we’d move down. It’s a deep draft and we only have 5 picks…


    Joe, just when I thought you finally wrote an article without mentioning your boy toy, you go and disappoint – again.

  50. phil Says:

    If we don’t get a quarterback nothing else will really matter.

  51. FLBoyInDallas Says:

    I’d be absolutely fine with Bridgewater, Bortles, Watkins, Mack, Matthews or Robinson. No to Manziel, Carr or Barr. Overrated. And Clowney will never make it past 1 or 2 so he’s not even a consideration.

  52. Joe Says:


    Jake Matthews.

  53. BamBamBuc Says:

    Best way I see us using Mack drafted at #7 is if we switch to a 3-3-5 defense in nickel situations. Now, typically I hate switching to a 3 man line when we are a 4-3 built team, but at this point with Mack, we would have 3 very good LBs and be able to rush one of them each time we were in that set. Similar to a 3-4 defense, offenses wouldn’t know if we’d be sending David, Foster or Mack so we’d gain a slight advantage. Problem is if a team then forces us to stay in 3-3-5 running a no huddle offense and begins to run the ball against us. I’m not sure the 3 DL plus Mack is enough to slow the run. If we really want consistent pass rush, we should find a DE that can get that pressure in base 4-3 or in a 4-2-5 nickel.

  54. NY Buc Says:

    David, Foster, and Mack as the Bucs starting LB group…Bucs with the best LB tandem in the NFC South (hell the NFL). I’m down with it if it plays out that way.

  55. Brandon Says:

    Wow, brilliant Joe! This is exactly what I have been saying for weeks and weeks and now that Mayock says it, it makes sense to you. Why do you spend so much time responding to the negative know-nothings that misquote or misunderstand you, and not bother reading posts that are actually informative and spot on?

  56. BamBamBuc Says:

    For anyone interested, in 2011 under Lovie Smith for the Bears, Briggs and Urlacher notched 491 plays on defense at MLB and WLB, Nick Roach had 216 at SLB. So, even the last time Lovie Smith was a head coach, the SLB is the one that comes off the field in nickel situations. Drafting a SLB is either a 40% of the time player (not a #7 pick) or has to be able to play both SLB in base and DE in nickel.

    In a 3-4, where the outside LBs are considered “rush” linebackers, they remove an inside linebacker in nickel or go 2-4-5 with only 2 DL (rare).

  57. BamBamBuc Says:

    Apologies for lack of clarification… that was as of Oct 28th that year, so not a full season yet. But it still gets the point across.

  58. Mike J Says:

    Ain’t that what I & others said a week or 2 ago??