Alex Mack is undoubtedly one of the 32 best prospects in this year's draft.
Cal's Alex Mack lines up against Stanford
As Senior NFL Analyst Ed Thompson and NFL Draft Analyst Chris Steuber reported from the Senior Bowl, he excelled in practices against some of the best players in the country and played well in the game itself. And, as Thompson reported, Mack spoke with representatives from the Colts at the Senior Bowl as well.
A three year starter at Cal, he paved the way on the inside with his aggressive and tenacious play for stars such as Marshawn Lynch, former Colt kick returner Justin Forsett, and most recently, Jahvid Best.
The Golden Bears rushed for over 2,100 yards each season Mack was snapping the ball and also averaged almost 420 pass attempts per season, which means that he had to know how to pass block as well.
He has excellent size — he may even be too big for the Colts, measuring in at 6-feet-4 and 314 pounds at the Combine — and strength, although he did not participate in the bench press while in Indianapolis. He also won the Draddy Trophy in December 2008, which recognizes student athletes that excel on the field, in the classroom, and in their communities, so he's not all brawn and no brains.
The date that looms large for Mack is Cal's Pro Day, coming up on March 18th. With Mack standing head and shoulders above the competition and 2009 being a fairly weak class for interior linemen — especially centers — he could turn the heads of a number of scouts and general managers by posting a strong workout.
There are number of teams that need help at the position and it is not unheard of for a team to spend a first round selection on a center if it is determined that they are a unique prospect, with Nick Mangold, Chris Spencer, and Jeff Faine serving as recent examples.
Mack is such a prospect, so, unless he has a very disappointing workout on the 18th, it is very likely that he will be chosen by some team in the first round.
That team could be the Colts, but Spencer went 25th overall and Faine went 21st overall — Mangold lasted until 29th overall — so there is a real possibility that Mack may not be there when Indianapolis drafts at 27. The better the workout, the better the chances he will be gone.
Generally, though, the Colts have stuck to their draft strategy in the first round of picking the best player available that fills a need. They have spoken with a number of defensive tackles, wide receivers, and cornerbacks that have a first-round grade and play a position of higher importance — although Mack would certainly fit the bill of "best player available" if he were there at No. 27.
While it is unlikely that Jeff Saturday will finish out the three-year contract he just signed with Indianapolis, his presence definitely shores up a position that was in doubt heading into free agency — about the timeframe when Bill Polian and company were in Mobile. With both Jamey Richard and Steve Justice at the position, Mack would be a luxury pick if he were available at 27th overall.
However, he could somehow still be sitting there as a result of the teams in front of Indianapolis selecting the receivers, cornerbacks, and defensive tackles that they were targeting in the first round. In that scenario, Mack makes an awful lot of sense.
He will be a quality starter for some team and a potential Pro Bowler for a number of years, but that team most likely won't be the Colts, as there are too many opportunity costs, too many needs, and too many other teams standing in their way.
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