MOBILE, Alabama – The Senior Bowl displays plenty of talent across the board. Some attendees carry the name recognition dating back to the prospect’s high school playing days with others joining them that created a late push as small school standouts. With a comfortable blend of both descriptions on the rosters, many players can get lost in the mix.
Jaylon Ferguson (Louisiana Tech), Charles Omenihu (Texas) and Montez Sweat (Mississippi State), among others, headlined a potent group of defensive linemen heading to Mobile. Though all three stood out and produced solid weeks, a couple of Texas A&M defenders turned heads, which may have been surprising to some spectators.
After spending time in St. Petersburg in last week’s East-West Shrine Game, Daylon Mack ventured over to Mobile as one of the last additions to the roster. The Texas A&M defensive tackle prospect failed to reach his 5-star recruiting profile hype in his first few collegiate seasons. After recording 32 tackles with 9.5 for loss in his freshman season, Mack bottomed out in his next two seasons reaching a total of 44 tackles, 7.5 for loss, and 2.5 sacks in the next two seasons combined. Though of course stats can be skewed to forming one’s opinion, even outside of Mack’s undesirable production in his sophomore and junior seasons, he didn’t look engaged on the field.
Spending three years as a reserve defensive tackle was not a part of the initial plan for Mack. Having little versatility in Texas A&M’s 4-3 scheme, Mack looked like another 5-star recruit in which the potential was not filled.
He flipped the switch in 2018.
As a senior, Mack started all 13 games for the Aggies finishing fifth on the team with 10 tackles for loss and third on the team with 5.5 sacks. Playing with a hot motor and an intriguing tenacity, the heralded SEC offensive lines had a difficult time containing No. 34 this past season.
Mack scratched his potential in his final collegiate season and continued to relish in that potential this week in Mobile. Mack measured in at an even 6-foot-1 with 327 pounds tacked on to his frame. In his first day of practice, Mack stole the show. He continually overpowered his matchup with brute strength showing the ability to forklift players off the ball. His natural lower body strength and low center of gravity provides for an easy executed bull rush. Playing with appropriate leverage through contact, Mack tag-teamed that with a consistent leg drive that put defenders on their backs, literally.
— 49er_Edits (@49er_edits) January 25, 2019
The big guy also showed impressive burst off the snap with quick hands to fluster the opposition. He shows good leverage to drive his matchup on his heels and then simply get under his pads and drive him into the backfield.
— PewterReport (@PewterReport) January 22, 2019
Mack’s next-level status will most likely be pigeon-holed to a 0-tech tackle but the same can’t necessarily be said for his teammate Kingsley Keke. Keke is the more athletic of the two showing a balanced blend of pass rush ability and consistent run stuffs at the line of scrimmage. Lining up with his hand in the dirt as a 3-tech defender along with shifting him out to the five, Keke proved his worth as a versatile defender in 2018 and his prowess in Mobile has been even more impressive.
Keke has shown a plethora of pass rush moves in his one on one reps. Displaying a double swipe move followed by a rip through, Keke shows controlled hand movements to negate his matchup with near simplicity. With quick upper body movements and quality body leverage, Keke shows the ability to roll his hips into the blocker and explode to the backfield. He is quick to counter the offensive lineman, overwhelming with extension and quickness. Keke found ways to consistently negate his defender throughout the week.
Kingsley Keke can turn tight corners for an IDL pic.twitter.com/TLNyDrl7IU
— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) January 22, 2019
Gradually climbing in production in his career in College Station, Keke finished with seven sacks in 2018 displaying his dynamic ability in the interior. Outside of his technical hands and counters, Keke displayed other ways to win at the point of attack starting with initial quickness. The A&M defender has a balanced stance with the lower body torque to explode forward. Playing through contact, Keke also shows the ability to convert power to speed with attractive acceleration. His athletic feet and skinny path to the backfield provides for an attractive interior pass rush presence.
Kingsley Keke, TAMU DL, showed up about 15 lbs under his listed weight and maintained his powerful hands. Surprising lateral quickness and ability to turn some corners in the interior. pic.twitter.com/zXB9IYll4l
— Matt Lane (@Matty_KCSN) January 24, 2019
Falling under the radar in some capacity entering one of the most anticipated weeks of the draft season, the Texas A&M duo has garnered attention throughout Senior Bowl week. With only the game left on the docket on Saturday, Mack and Keke did nearly everything possible during the practice week to shift teams’ attention back to the film room evaluating the Aggies’ defensive line.
Feature Photo: Daylon Mack (Butch Dill, AP Photo)