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PFF scouting report: Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 28: Running back Marlon Mack #5 of the South Florida Bulls jumps over Navy defenders during a run in the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium on October 28, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr. /Getty Images)

Name: Marlon Mack

School: South Florida

Position fit: Running back

Stats to know: In 2016, 52.3 percent of Mack’s 1,182 rushing yards came on his 15 runs of 15-plus yards, the fifth-highest breakaway percentage among draft-eligible running backs with at least 90 carries.

What he does best:

  • One of the best pure athletes in the running back draft class.
  • Outstanding acceleration and change of direction, fast enough to rattle off big runs.
  • Strings moves together exceptionally well. Utilizes stiff arm to keep distance from defenders and extend runs
  • Experience with inside zone-, power-, and counter-blocking schemes out of a shotgun, spread offense.
  • Showed improvement as a receiver over his college career. In 2016, he was utilized mainly on screens when lined up out wide, giving him space to make the first defender miss.
  • Capable of creating his own yardage at every level.

Biggest concerns:

  • Can be indecisive and dance in the backfield, tries to do too much.
  • Far more willing to bounce runs outside than take on defenders on inside runs.
  • Rather than cut his losses or just get what he can, he too often completely reverses field. Can lead to the occasional big play, but also causes him to lose even more yards.
  • Sometimes will also bounce even when he’s not forced, which caused blockers to lose leverage and get called for holding as defenders changed direction.
  • Fumbled 12 times in three years, one of the higher fumble rates in the draft class. Ball security gets more lax the further downfield he gets and/or after he changes from one arm to another
  • Limited experience in pass pro in recent seasons.

Bottom line: Mack’s greatest asset is his athletic ability. His speed, acceleration, and quick change of direction always make him a threat to break off a big run. However, it is also a double-edged sword for Mack. He’s too quick to bounce runs outside and runs east-west too often. While those do lead to some of his biggest runs, there are more times where he gains nothing extra and may have actually gained more yards by just taking on a single defender in the hole or at the second level. He needs to create a better feel for when to bounce and when to stick inside. His athleticism made it work in college more than expected, but that works far less often in the NFL against better athletes and more disciplined defenders, particularly when completely reversing field. Mack won’t be a lead back unless he learns to be more willing to keep and finish runs inside. He also needs to show better ball security or teams may be less keen to give him the ball.

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