Is the Buccaneers answer at running back from USF in the form of Marlon Mack?
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The Buccaneers running back situation has been talked about at length. Dirk Koetter has professed the want to be a running team, but they finished 24th in the NFL last season in that department. The Doug Martin situation is unsettled at best. An upgrade is needed.
Where is the upgrade going to come from? There has been a lot of talk about Dalvin Cook from Florida State. The Bucs are interested, and his draft stock may be dropping, making the pick a possibility.
But what if the upgrade is somewhere else? Maybe it’s from another school in Florida, USF perhaps.
Marlon Mack has become a person of interest to Jason Licht and his staff. In fact, the Bucs are among the teams showing the most interest in the young back:
With that, let’s take a look at Mack and see what he might bring to the table. First we look at his stats, courtesy of Sports Reference:
With a 6.2 yards per carry average, clearly Mack is an explosive player. He can be that home run hitter that the Bucs need. He is a viable weapon out of the backfield as well, giving Jameis Winston another weapon at his disposal.
In his 2015 bowl appearance against Western Kentucky, Mack ran the ball 17 times for 108 yards, showing big game ability.
He ran the forty in 4.5 seconds at the NFL Combine. Here are some thoughts from his draft profile:
"Strengths Looks like he has ball bearings in his hips. Able to swivel in multiple directions. Can tilt and slalom around defenders on the second and third level and is able to string moves together. Has slippery feet and is hard to pin down when bouncing laterally. Runs with knee bend and his pad level is low at contact.Weaknesses Runs with inconsistent power through contact. Will need to accelerate through contact on next level. Serial run bouncer. Too willing to make wild bounces to the furthest reaches of the perimeter if interior lanes are gummed up. Lacks a committed approach between the tackles."
Interesting, but there is nothing better than taking a look for ourselves. Let’s go to the videotape. First we look at his bowl appearance against Western Kentucky:
Now here is a game from 2016 against Dalvin Cook’s Florida State squad:
There are good reasons to be excited about this player. There is no doubt that he has big play ability. The above mentioned that he had a tough time between the tackles, but not when there is a big hole. When he has a hole to get through, he shoots through it. His first step is quick. Marlon Mack is a running back that can break off big chunks of yardage.
I included the second game because it was against a higher level opponent and he had a tougher time. He posted some nice runs, but Florida State was able to keep up for most of the game. Mack didn’t have an alternative when they were able to set the edges on the outside. Mack needs more versatility between the tackles. He also needs to deliver a bit more after contact. Yards after contact are an important stat in the NFL for a guy that wants to be an every down guy.
Watching the tape, Mack goes down easier than he should after first contact. He needs to drive his would-be tackler and gain those extra 3-4 yards.
As of this moment, Mack is more of a change-up type of runner than a three-down back. I’m not sure whether or not he can endure 250 carries per game with his running style.
That’s not saying I wouldn’t take him. Warrick Dunn seemed a bit small in style as well, and we know how that turned out. What do you guys think of Marlon Mack?