2014 NFL draft Big Board
Buffalo's Khalil Mack makes biggest leap following Week 1
Occasionally in this business you'll be accused of basing too much on a single performance. After all, sample sizes matter, matchups matter, and a single performance can be subject to all kinds of factors. So you try not to conclude too much on one game. But consider the case of Khalil Mack this week. Here is a kid who piled up 20 tackles for loss last season, but also didn't play in Buffalo's game against Georgia. Outside of that, the best team he played was probably Northern Illinois. So you watch that tape and wonder what he'd look like against better competition.
Well, against Ohio State on Saturday he had 2.5 sacks (and should have had another) and intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown. He was the best player on the field, and showed his strength against the run, his quickness as a pass-rusher, and an ability to make plays in space. So while it's just one game, he jumps this week, because it reinforces a growing track record.
As always, scouting reports remain similar week to week, with updates on matchups. As well, asterisks denote juniors, and two asterisks denote redshirt sophomores.
He didn't appear to be 100 percent in Week 1, but he was clearly the No. 1 concern for UNC. Clowney combines exceptional strength and quickness, and the result is a terrifying defensive talent. His arsenal of pass-rushing skills is growing. He can occasionally play a little high, which allows to teams to run at him, but he has improved there and is nowhere near a liability.
Was close to perfect in a smothering of Ohio. Is there a defense that will be equipped to challenge him? Bridgewater rarely looks overwhelmed, and comfortably works his eyes across the field. When he sees a target -- or more likely, a receiver who will come open -- he has a quick release, plenty of arm strength and good ball placement.
Has the rare size and skills to handle a zero-technique role -- Nix can keep multiple blockers occupied and make life easy for linebackers cleaning up against the run -- but he's not limited to that because he can really move. A reliable player, he anchors a D-line that will be the strength of the 2013 Irish squad.
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