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2017 NFL Draft Preview: Marlon Mack

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

After a good showing at the combine, USF’s Marlon Mack could garner some attention in the later rounds of the draft.

Over the course of the weeks leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft, we will take a look at the top NFL prospects at each position. This week, we dive into the running back position. Today we look at Marlon Mack from the University of South Florida.

College Career

The moment Marlon Mack arrived on campus in Tampa, he was a special player for the USF Bulls. In fact, in his very first game as a Bull, Mack tied the school record for rushing yards with 275. He also scored four times on runs of 62,60,56, and two yards, showing fans what they could expect during his time at USF. He finished his freshman year with 1,041 yards and nine rushing touchdowns, and only got better from there. 

Mack finished his career with the Bulls rushing for 3,609 yards and 32 touchdowns, setting school records for career rushing yards, career all-purpose yards (4,107), rushing touchdowns, and total touchdowns (33). He’s also the only USF player to rush for 1,000 yards in three straight seasons and be named All-AAC three consecutive years. Mack will easily go down as the best running back so far in USF Bulls history. 


The biggest thing Mack has going for him is his speed. He ran a 4.5 40-yard dash time at this year’s NFL Combine, which was ninth amongst running backs, but that doesn’t show just how fast he can be on the field. Of his 15 touchdowns this past season with the Bulls, six of them went for over 40 yards. Get Mack in the open field, and even by NFL standards he’s tough to catch. 

While breakaway speed is great for a running back, it’s rare in the NFL for a back to run in a simple straight line. A great running back needs the ability to make quick cuts, and Mack has a knack for that as well. 


Being able to play between the tackles is so important in today’s NFL, as a running game can’t succeed without being able to run up the middle as well as to the outside. Mack has shown an inability and unwillingness to play between the hashes. 

Throughout his college career, Mack has chosen to bounce plays to the outside inside of through a hole up the middle. Despite having solid speed and agility, at the NFL level defenses are just as quick and will be able to contain Mack if he doesn’t show an improvement. 

Mack isn’t an all-around running back. Don’t expect teams to draft him based on his ability to catch passes out of the backfield. Over his three seasons with USF, Mack totaled only 65 catches for 498 yards. 

Verdict has Mack rated as a 5.54 prospect, which they see as being on the low end of potentially becoming an NFL starter. While things could change in the future, Mack won’t start his career as a three-down running back. He’ll most likely be used in first and second down situations and also in an outside running scheme until he shows the ability to transition to running up the middle. Over time I can see Mack being a reliable starting back for a team, but won’t be one of the best in the league at any point. 

You better hold outside contain with Marlon Mack because that is where he wants to go. Can be electric playmaker

— Eliot Crist (@EliotCrist) March 1, 2017

Best Fit

First reported by Jared Tokarz of NFL Draft Insiders, there is strong interest for Mack coming from the Kansas City Chiefs. They recently released long-time back Jamaal Charles and Mack could be seen as a similar style back. While not a polished receiver like Charles, Mack has shown some improvement in that aspect at USF. Mack’s potential is something a lot of teams could take a hard look at, and the Chiefs could be just the place to get the most out of the former Bull. 

Edited by Jazmyn Brown, Bobby Murray.

Who's the highest drafted player from USF?
Created 3/9/17
  1. Mike Jenkins
  2. Aaron Lynch
  3. Kawika Mitchell
  4. Jason Pierre-Paul

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