Saturday, December 27, 2008

Player Anatomy: C Alex Mack, Cal


Mack is arguably the top center in college football since Nick Mangold (Pro Bowler with the New York Jets); an extremely powerful player whose biggest strength is in-line run blocking. However, he needs to develop his technical skills, but good coaching at the next level should allow him to do so. He was a first-team all-conference performer as a sophomore, junior and a senior. Not all brawn, Mack possesses brains, taking home the 2008 Draddy Trophy, the academic Heisman. He possesses the tools to become a top-line starter in the NFL.

Character / Leadership Ability: He has no known character flaws and was the unquestioned leader of Cal’s offense. He was a mentor to Cal’s younger offensive linemen.

Competitive Nature / Work Ethic: He never stops competing, even when a play is halfway down the field—he plays with a lot of intensity. Mack returned to school because he wanted to get the program back on the right track.

Football Intelligence: He’ll end his career, barring injuring, as a three-year starter. He can be a little slow at times to read and react and will really benefit from being just a full-time football player.

Size: He’s fairly tall for a center, and his arms aren’t especially long. Mack has a bulky build throughout his frame but probably can’t hold much more mass.

Athletic Ability: He’s incredibly athletic and agile for a big, powerful center—He was a former high school wrestler and can actually do splits. He’s also very strong and moves to the second level quickly.

Toughness / Durability: He’s been durable throughout his career and plays with a lot of grit and desire.

Pass Blocking: Mack plays better against the run although he’s sometimes slow to react and some worry about his lack of awareness. He doesn’t move well laterally and can have trouble reacting and neutralizing speed rushers charging the A-gap.

Movement / Space: He’s an attacker at the second level who seeks out opponents instead of letting them come to him. Mack is also a really good cut blocker.

Quickness: Mack has great snap quickness to get the ball off and get into his stance. He doesn’t have much speed, though and kind of lumbers to get to opponents on the second level.

Run Blocking: He’s a mauling run blocker who uses his powerful lower body to push back tackles. He is an incredibly adept cut blocker and a gifted trap blocker. Mack is also a really good finisher.

Strength: Possesses great base strength—he registered a program-record power clean of 374 pounds. He has especially strong legs.

Technique: He tends to get too tall in his stance and needs to keep better balance, especially on the move. His base has to get wider or he could have some trouble facing players stronger than him.

Photo Credit: University of California