Alex Mack (C), University of California
The Bengals entered the draft with serious question marks all over their depth chart. Can Cedric Benson really be 'the guy' at running back? Is there a worthy replacement for TJ Housmandzadeh and his 294 catches over the past three seasons? Those questions rule the draft process but that's completely ignoring that the defense was average, at best, in 2008. All of those needs though take a back seat to rebuilding an offensive line that allowed a jaw dropping 51sacks last year. The current starting center has his hands full considering that the rest of the AFC North all run variations of a 3-4 defense meaning that he faces Casey Hampton (325 pounds), Shaun Rogers (350 pounds) and Haloti Ngata (345 lbs) six times a season. The Bengals could use an upgrade at center and with the best center still on the board, this is a no-brainer. They run to the podium knocking over Roger Goodell and anyone else who happens to be in the way to select Alex Mack. Here's what we had to say about him in a potential draft profile:
Positives: Alex Mack is the best center that will be in the draft and will fill a huge hole on any offensive line. Mack is not an explosive center, but he does get to blocks quickly. He is very consistent at both pass and run protection. He plays with a low center of gravity, and shows the proper form when blocking. He doesn't hesitate to put a defender on his back, and won't stop till the whistle blows. He has great hand and feet movement, and will often drive defenders backwards. He is a great guy off the field and is the ideal player for a team, but turns into a beast when on the field. He will often take command of the line and call plays as he sees them. He has great work ethic, and strives to become stronger. In college, he would often stay late in the weight room and as a result, became one of the strongest players on the team. He is very smart and won several academic awards in college.
Negatives: The number one complaint about Mack was that he spent too much time on the ground. He has trouble adjusting position, and will sometimes stumble or fall. Most think that he's a bit small or an offensive lineman, and as a result, got toppled over too many times. Others think he was just a mauler and did whatever he could to block a defender. Another weakness to Mack is that he's not a very fast center, and struggles with lateral movement. For being a powerful center, he only recorded 20 bench reps at his pro day. He uses his body too much to lean into defenders, and that often results in being beat by double moves. While Mack is solid as a pass protector, he may struggle with the bigger defensive tackles in the NFL. He sometimes gets lost in the defense when trying to make a block at the second level.
First Round Pick: Jason Smith
Many thanks to LaCardsFan for submitting this pick. The Jags and AZCARDS66 are now on the clock with the Raiders and ianbbc02 on deck. If anyone needs to refresh their memory on the second round draft order, check here.