NFL draft guru Rob Rang assesses Gabe Marks’ NFL chances

GABE MARKS reminds NFL draft guru Rob Rang of a prolific pass catcher with the Seattle Seahawks. So in what round does the Washington State wide receiver come off the board in the draft on April 27-29? That’s the wrong question, says Rang.

For the record, Rang sees Marks as a Day Three selection in the draft, possibly in Round 5.  But Rang says the bigger point on Marks has to do with his potential for longevity in the NFL, saying he compares favorably with a Seahawk WR who caught 94 passes last season, seventh-most in the NFL.

“Rather than just say he’s going to go in the fifth round or sixth round,  I feel confident Gabe Marks is going to get a real shot at making an NFL roster,” said Rang. “I think he has the physical ability, and the mental strength, to carve out a career in the NFL -- and that to me is the most important thing.

“It’s similar to what we saw with Doug Baldwin … and with all the success he’s had with the Seahawks.  It’s the mental strength in Baldwin coming in as undrafted free agent and making a roster. Gabe Marks has some of those same qualities.”

Marks, who at the combine was listed at 5-11, 189 pounds, has mostly been projected as a slot receiver in the NFL after playing outside receiver at Washington State.  Rang agrees.

“I think that’s where he fits best, but I’m also never going to say a player cannot play on the outside and certainly not one who is as crafty a route runner as he is and has had the production … But I do believe he projects best as a slot receiver. Generally speaking, most teams in the NFL wants guys on the outside to be 6-2 and above, to run the 4.3’s or 4.4’s.  But he is a crafty route runner, he does use his body well to make the catch when defenders are draped over him. He’s very competitive,” said Rang.

Slot receivers do much of their damage in the middle of the field, something Rang says Marks is well suited for on Sundays.

“Marks has good spatial awareness, he knows where defenders are around him,” said Rang. “He does a nice job of catching the ball and then ducking so he doesn’t take the big hit. Those types of qualities translate well to the NFL.”

Marks limited his participation at WSU’s Pro Day on Thursday to various position drills. That’s pretty standard, says Rang.

“Pro Day workouts generally are just an opportunity to boost your stock. You’re not going to really hurt your stock and especially if you already have a solid performance like Marks did in Indianapolis,” said Rang.

And what about Marks’ performance at the NFL combine, how did he do?

“I was one of the few media members who were allowed into the workouts and I got to see every single pass thrown to Marks and I didn’t see him drop a ball,” said Marks. “And I saw him make a couple of very nice catches where he really had to reach outside of his frame and front the football and try to drag his feet … I thought he had a very solid workout, the type of workout he needed to really try and stand apart from a pretty talented wide receiver class …  For a guy who obviously has had some incredible (catches) he does have some drops on tape as well. I thought it was key to make every single catch.”

Marks’ 40 time at the combine was also a positive.

“A 4.56 in the 40-yard dash is a good number for him, it shows he has enough speed and the quickness that they’re looking for,” said Rang.

SO WITH ALL that going for him, and in being a guy who caught more passes (316) that anyone in the 101-year history of the Pac-12, what are the chances he could jump a few rounds and get drafted in, say, the third round?

“It’s not that I don’t think he had a strong senior season or that he didn’t help himself in the draft process. It’s just that he’s not a player that has the eye-popping measurables that are going to warrant an early round selection,” said Rang.

Marks’ outspokenness at Washington State greatly endeared him to the fans and media, but what about NFL suitors?  If that does factor in, Rang opined, it’s probably a positive as well.

“I think for some teams it can help, for some teams it can hurt, it’s all about personal preference. It’s kind of just about getting to know him. But I think it speaks most to his competitiveness. For me, as long as it works within the confines of the team, you don’t want to be a distraction. But again, I think it speaks to his willingness to take on extra duties and put more pressure on himself. And I think that can definitely be a positive,” said Rang.

CF.C’s Skyler Cracraft, in case you missed it, said Marks had a “very productive” WSU Pro Day.  KREM’s Tony Black had this with Marks afterwards.

Rang is a longtime senior draft analyst for  CBS Sports and and a teacher at Mt. Tahoma High in Tacoma.

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