2014 NFL Combine: Day 3 Recap Khalil Mack Wins the Day, Jonathan Newsome Has Strong showing

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

After Monday's performances a pair of MAC defensive players could hear their names called much sooner than originally expected, especially former Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack who backed up his impressive resume with an equally impressive day in Indy.

While Sunday may have been the sexy day of the combine (RB/WR/QB), Monday featured the Mid-American Conference's biggest name, former Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack. With the day focused solely on linebackers and defensive lineman, Mack was one of two former MACletes partaking in the festivities, the other being former Ball State defensive end Jonathan Newsome, but was arguably on of the day's biggest stars.

Following in the footsteps of Dri Archer, who stole the show Sunday when he nearly broke the Combine 40-yard-dash record, Mack was the darling of the ball. With "meat-market" prospect JaDeveon Clowney abstaining from participation in any drills, while also having some questionable reactions to other prospects overtly calling him out, it left room for Mack to step in and become the talk of the town. He had little problems doing so.

It seemed every NFL talking head fell in love with the NCAA career forced fumble record holder Monday, aided of course by the Network's lead Draft analyst, Mike Mayock. Mayock has openly stated he thinks Mack is the best defensive player in the Draft, above Clowney, and would have little qualms about taking him No. 1.

Of course Mack had to back up the hype, and make good on the attention he was receiving Monday, or risk sliding.

Despite some questionable form in his 40-yard-dash, Mack still put up an impressive 4.65 official time; tied for the fourth best among linebackers. In fact, Mack's time came in at .01 seconds faster than former UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, a player Mack is drawing the most eyeball competition from. Barr, a former college running back and wideout before moving to defense, has been heralded for his speed, so for Mack to show he's faster than him his huge for building his resume as the clear-cut top linebacker option.

Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
40 Yard Dash 10 Yard Split Bench Press Vert Jump Broad Jump 3 Cone Drill 20 Yard Shuttle Arm
4.65 s 1.56 s 23 reps 40.0 in 128.0 in 7.08 s 4.18 s 33 1/4"

(Courtesy of UBBullRun)

All of Mack's measurable's were outstanding, as expected. The 6-foot-3-inch, 251-pound backer was a top performer in the 40, the vertical jump, the broad jump and the 20-yard shuffle. His vert measured in at a whopping 40 inches, and his broad jump came in at 10-feet, 8-inches. His performance on the bench was adequate, where he got up 23 reps of 225. This was substantially better than Barr's 15 (worst among all LB's) but far from the leaders, Mac Bullogh and Khairi Fortt.

Where Mack really impressed was in the drills. He showed off his superior instincts and natural ability to read offenses. He was fluid, changing direction without any stiffness and displaying the quickness and explosiveness that allowed him to rack up so many of those coveted tackles-for-loss in college.

His drill performances wooed many, landing him on NFL.com analyst Bucky Brook's list of Top 3 winners from Monday. Brooks had this to say about Mack's performance in the drills:

... it was the outstanding display of balance and body control in drills that convinced scouts he is a big-time talent (though he played much of his college career against inferior competition). From making effortless turns and transitions in coverage to exhibiting explosive first-step quickness on pass-rush drills, Mack showed he has all the tools in the toolbox to be an impact player as a pro.

Mack likely locked himself up as a Top 5 pick from his performance at Lucas Oil Stadium, and may be inching into the Top 3. If he can get the 40 time closer to a 4.60 and show to be a bit more relaxed in drills at his Pro Day, don't be surprised to see Mack's stock take on an Eric Fisher-esque rise in the weeks leading up to the Draft.

But Mack wasn't alone in having an impressive day, Newsome turned some heads as well. The one-time Ohio State outside linebacker turned into quite the defensive end at Ball State, but as is the case with many NFL Prospects, he needed to show that he was capable of dropping back and playing as a stand-up rush end in an NFL 3-4 defense. Based of his numbers Monday it would appear that with a little more work Newsome should have little trouble making any transition's necessary.

Newsome wasn't a top performer in any one category, as to be expected when competing with freakish athletes such as Clowney, but this former projected late rounder may have worked his way up to the lower middle rounds after a solid showing Monday. His official 4.73 40 came in at 10th among defensive lineman, and showed he has the speed to be a consistent threat off the edge. He only got 21 reps on the bench, but that was on par with the likes of Clowney.

Jonathan Newsome, DE/OLB, Ball State
40 Yard Dash 10 Yard Split Bench Press Vert Jump Broad Jump 3 Cone Drill 20 Yard Shuttle Arm
4.73 s - 21 reps 34.0 in 117.0 in 7.31 s -
33 1/4 in

During the broadcast Monday Warren Sapp briefly raved about Newsome's showing in the drills. He wasn't the only one impressed with how fluid Newsome looked.

He wasn't as quick, or explosive as Mack, but Newsome isn't a Top 5 prospect, so it's unfair to hold him to those standards. He did perform far better than some of his peers, especially Michael Sam, and if he can follow this up with a strong Pro Day and private workouts he could be looking at a much short waiting time come NFL Draft time.

Tuesday marks the final day of the NFL Combine, with the attention turning to the defensive backs. The MAC has two representatives competing in that pool, former NIU safety Jimmie Ward and former Ohio cornerback Travis Carrie. Ward has been inching his way towards a 2nd, or even possibly a late 1st round selection in recent weeks. A strong showing Tuesday could cement that. Carrie is fighting for an outside shot at being a late round pick, due to a reputation for being injury prone, but he was once considered one of the MAC's top Draft prospects, and has the skills, obviously, to earn an invite to the Combine. A strong day in Indy could be all he needs to get a shot.

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