*Our RB grades can and will change as more information comes in from Pro Day workouts, leaked Wonderlic test results, etc. We will update ratings as new info becomes available.

*We use the term “Power RB” to separate physically bigger, more between-the-tackles–capable RBs from our “speed RBs” group. “Speed RBs” are physically smaller, but much faster/quicker, and less likely to flourish between the tackles.


**This report was completed after the 2017 NFL Draft.


It's easy to lose track of Marlon Mack among the 2017 NFL Draft prospects. He had a nice career at South Florida, but no type of production (among top prospects) that made you jump out of your seat. His NFL Combine was a yawn…nothing to sink your teeth into -- not filled with red flags, but no impressive green flags either. He ran a 4.50 40-time. He weighed in at a 'tweener' 215 pounds. His vertical (35.5″) and bench press (15 reps) were all very average.

An NFL-worthy athleticism and size plus nice productivity in college got him drafted in the late fourth round. I don’t think anyone would really care all that much about Mack if he had landed in Denver or Philadelphia or wherever NFL RB depth charts are pretty congested. However, Mack landed on the Indianapolis Colts roster…and hearts swooned. It's another year where we all try to kill off Frank Gore once and for all. Robert Turbin is old news to people (and shouldn't be here) and Josh Ferguson impressed in the 2016 preseason camp and then failed in-season. There seems to be a wide open path for a new running back, now Marlon Mack, to be the heir to the Frank Gore throne.

I went back through Mack's data and watched several of his game tapes to see if we have the true heir or a false prophet. After looking at all the data, I think we have more of a false prophet here…in a sense. I can tell you this – Mack won’t be an NFL star for any period of time. He may get a temporary workload push because of the circumstances, but he's not going to be a sustainable star in the NFL.

If you watched a few games of Mack's at USF, you might not notice it, but if I told you to go watch them with this certain info ahead of time – you'd see it almost every time he ran the ball. It would drive you crazy, in a bad way. Marlon Mack has a flaw for the next level as a runner – he's a dancer…a contact avoider. And it's going to hurt him at the next level.

When Mack got the ball, at USF, it was a lot of jet sweeps and regular sweeps from the spread (that he will never/rarely run in the pros). Mack gets a full head of steam and he's capable of getting past defenders, but when there is anything in his way, he has like some weird early collision warning detection system in his brain – he tries to dance or cut to get away/around congestion…which leads to several missed opportunities as he turns away from an extra 2-3-4 yards of contact to scurry away sideways. He doesn’t seem to have the high-end footspeed needed to be able to cut back/change course and outrun defenders…his hesitations and dancing at the next level will have him swarmed by NFL-talent defenders. He can get away with it some in college but it will hurt him in the pros.

Mack runs upright and is trying to evade contact. Rarely, very rarely, will you see Mack head into defenders with his shoulders. His style makes him dicey for running between the tackles. If a great O-Line opens the space, Mack hits it in-stride…he's gone. He has a very nice acceleration. His open field speed makes him an NFL prospect, but his size and skittishness in tight quarters will make him a liability near the goal line. He's not the kind of back you pump 20+ carries into and wear the defense down. He should be a part of an RB duo…and not the 'thunder' part of it.

If you want to use Mack as a change of pace in the NFL, that would be OK, not the best, but useful. However, I'd also worry that Mack doesn’t have the hands you want in the passing game. Not bad, but not great. OK for short/screen passes. Tends to catch the ball against/into his body, not with his hands. He's no quasi-WR out of your backfield. He battled fumbles at South Florida as well – 12 fumbles in three seasons. Not damning, but not amazing…he has smaller 9.0″ hands and they don’t seem to be all that special.

So what do you have here?

Mack is not a speedster. He's fast enough, but not 'wow'. He's not a serious speed threat on paper.

Mack is not a pure power back. Tweener 213 pounds, and runs with a 'don't touch me' or 'I can outrun you' style.

Mack doesn't have great hands…they may be good or OK or weak, but they're not great.

Mack is shifty and has a nice pop when he sees/has the space. There are several guys like that in the league…Mack is one of them. Fast enough to belong in the NFL, but no special characteristics to get you excited otherwise.


Marlon Mack, Through the Lens of Our RB Scouting Algorithm:

Here is what worries our performance metrics the most on Mack. If you look at his games against the toughest defenses he faced in his career (and some not all that tough, just a higher conference of play in theory) – he was a very mediocre RB.

2014: 22 carries for 73 yards and no TDs vs. Maryland

2014: 10 carries for 34 yards and no TDs vs. Wisconsin

2015: 18 carries for 83 yards and no TDs vs. Florida State

2015: 12 carries for 71 yards and no TDs vs. Maryland

2015: 21 carries for 230 yards and 2 TDs vs. Temple

2016: 12 carries for 42 yards and 1 TD vs. Florida State (the TD on a trick play before FSU lined up at the goal line)

2016: 13 carries for 67 yards and 1 TD vs. Temple

2016: 13 carries for 50 yards and no TDs vs. South Carolina (Bowl)

7 mediocre games (above) with one huge outlier vs. Temple in 2015 and then a bunch of mild performances otherwise. I watched that 2015 game, Mack got a few wide open holes at the line of scrimmage and popped them – TD runs of 54 and 48 yards…all untouched.


In 2016, Mack caught 9 passes against Memphis and 6 passes against UConn – 15 catches in two games. He had 13 catches in his other 10 games in 2016. Besides the two spike games, Mack was not much of a passing game threat. Watching him on tape, he didn't even really look for the ball to be thrown to him…he would float out open from the backfield but look downfield instead of at the QB.


NFL Combine numbers…

5′11.3″/213, 32.0″ arms, 9.0″ hands

4.50 40-time, 1.55 10-yard, skipped the agility times

15 bench reps, 35.5″ vertical, 10′5″ broad jump


The Historical RB Prospects to Whom Marlon Mack Most Compares Within Our System:

I've heard several people compare Mack to Melvin Gordon and I see that for sure. Similar runners – dancers, too much dancing, which is why a guy like Gordon gets caught in the backfield so much. Give them a hole, and they'll pop through it for some action…something a hundred guys could do. Ask them to stop and turn and reaccelerate past them…they don’t have that either. They are the quintessential 'C' grade running backs and their output flops from 'B' to 'C' to 'D' depending on the O-Line and opposing defensive unit.

Gordon is the better of the two because while limited…he will try to get physical with something in his way, whereas Mac is a total contact avoider.

RB Score










Speed Metric

Agility Metric

Power Metric






S. Florida













E. Carolina







































C. Florida





















*A score of 8.50+ is where we see a stronger correlation of RBs going on to become NFL good/great/elite. A score of 10.00+ is more rarefied air in our system and indicates a greater probability of becoming an elite NFL RB.

All of the RB ratings are based on a 0–10 scale, but a player can score negative, or above a 10.0 in certain instances.

Overall rating/score = A combination of several on-field performance measures, including refinement for the strength of opponents faced, mixed with all the physical measurement metrics – then compared/rated historically within our database and formulas. More of a traditional three-down search – runner, blocker, and receiver.

*RB-Re score = New/testing in 2017. Our new formula/rating that attempts to identify and quantify a prospect's receiving skills even deeper than in our original formulas. RB prospects can now make it/thrive in the NFL strictly based on their receiving skills – it is an individual attribute sought out for the NFL and no longer dismissed or overlooked. Our rating combines a study of their receiving numbers in college in relation to their offense and opponents, as well as profiling size-speed-agility along with hand size measurables, etc.

*RB-Ru score = New/testing in 2017. Our new formula/rating that attempts to classify and quantify an RB prospect's ability strictly as a runner of the ball. Our rating combines a study of their rushing numbers in college in relation to their offense and strength of opponents, as well as profiling size-speed-agility along with various size measurables, etc.

Raw Speed Metric = A combination of several speed and size measurements from the NFL Combine, judged along with physical size profile, and then compared/rated historically within our database and scouting formulas. This is a rating strictly for RBs of a similar/bigger size profile.

Agility Metric = A combination of several speed and agility measurements from the NFL Combine, judged along with physical size profile, and then compared/rated historically within our database and scouting formulas. This is a rating strictly for RBs of a similar/bigger size profile.

2017 NFL Draft Outlook:

I would have guessed Mack as a 5th–7th round pick, so late 4th is not insane. If I were a GM, I would not have wasted a pick on such an 'average' talent. So many other interesting options out there at RB or other positions to waste a pick on a nondescript talent.

NFL Outlook:   

Mack is going to get an opportunity…the Colts' depth chart at RB, as everyone is keenly aware, is a little thin. Mack can provide some work if Frank Gore breaks down. However, as I scouted Mack, another thing stood out – he's a piss-poor blocker. Again, he's a contact avoider so he doesn’t look for trouble as a blocker either. That's not going to work for Andrew Luck…the blocking skills issue might keep Mack in an even more reduced role before you get into the argument of how average a talent he is otherwise.