Soon to be stars: Alex Mack

March, 23, 2011
3/23/11
12:00
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Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson looks at AFC North players on the verge of a breakout in 2011.

Mack
T.J. Ward and Joe Haden would fit for this series as well, but I already consider Haden a star. Ward, who still has some deficiencies in coverage, isn’t as far along in his development as Mack.

Mack is what you look for at the center position and should quickly establish himself as one of the best few players at the position before long. He moves very well and is excellent at getting to the second level and making key blocks away from the line of scrimmage in the run game.

He isn’t a massive player, but he still handles big power nose tackle-types well in the run game. He isn’t a liability at all as a pass-protector, and he should only improve with his protection.

Mack was exceptional as a rookie in 2009 and followed that up with a strong sophomore season, even though he often had to compensate for the player on his immediate right. But the best is yet to come from this 25-year-old franchise cornerstone.

One last player to keep an eye on for Cleveland is Marcus Benard. He would have been my choice for this piece if the Browns were still running a 3-4 scheme. Now, I am not sure where he fits, other than being a designated pass-rusher. Chris Gocong is the better option as a strongside linebacker in the new scheme.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.

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