Jaguars should draft ... Khalil Mack

April, 29, 2014
Apr 29
5:15
PM ET
Which player should the Jacksonville Jaguars take with the No. 3 pick in the NFL draft? That's a question that GM David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley are trying to answer before the first round on May 8. Not that they're asking, but I'm here to offer help. Every day until the first round I'll argue for a certain player. We're going to go with the caveat that each of the players is available when the Jaguars make their selection.

Today I make the case for linebacker Khalil Mack. Wednesday will be receiver Sammy Watkins.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny said he didn't deserve to be voted into the Pro Bowl because he didn't make enough big plays in 2013.

He was being a little hard on himself. Posluszny, who eventually played in the game as an alternate, was a tackling machine (161) and he had three sacks, two interceptions, 10 pass breakups and two forced fumbles in 15 games.

Mack
The linebackers as a whole, however, didn't make many big plays, which is why the Jaguars should draft Khalil Mack with the third overall pick May. 8.

The 6-foot-3, 247-pound Mack fits right into coach Gus Bradley's defense as a "leo," a hybrid end/linebacker whose primary responsibility is to rush the passer. The Jaguars certainly need help there after finishing last in the league the past two seasons in sacks (20 in 2012 and 31 last season). Mack also makes big plays, and that's where he can really help.

In addition to making 327 tackles in four years, Mack also recorded 28 1/2 sacks and forced an NCAA-record 16 fumbles. Look at what he did against Ohio State in the 2013 season opener: nine tackles, 2 1/2 sacks and a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Take Posluszny out of the mix and Jaguars linebackers had two interceptions, two sacks, four pass breakups, one forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 2013. That's from Geno Hayes, Russell Allen, J.T. Thomas, John Lotulelei and LaRoy Reynolds.

Mack brings a couple of other things the Jaguars desperately need at linebacker: athleticism and speed. He ran a 4.55 40-yard dash and played in coverage as well as being a pass rusher at Buffalo.

Improving the pass rush remains the top priority on defense and finding an elite pass rusher in the draft is perhaps the Jaguars' No. 1 need. Mack can be that player, but he's also versatile enough to drop in coverage. That makes him one of the most valuable players in the draft.

Here's Mel Kiper's take on Mack: "You'll see Mack lining up both at the line and on the perimeter. He is versatile and capable of rushing the passer with quickness and power or dropping into coverage with a great ability to shed tackles and make plays in the open field. He uses good leverage to take on blocks and drive people back and uses quickness and strong hands to shed. He plays with a great motor and tackles with form."

There's nothing not to like about Mack. He can help the Jaguars as a rusher and in coverage, but more importantly he's quick, athletic and can make big plays -- all things that were missing from the Jaguars' linebackers in 2013.

Mike DiRocco | email

ESPN Jacksonville Jaguars reporter

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