Can undrafted free-agent linebacker bring his exciting skill set to the NFL and make a lasting contribution for the Carolina Panthers going forward?
The Carolina Panthers are now just 47 days away from their return to the field. An unprecedented offseason for a number of reasons will come to a head when the team takes on the Las Vegas Raiders in week one. And it promises to be a fascinating campaign that could legitimately go either way for the organization.
League officials seem determined for things to start on time despite ongoing concerns relating to the current climate. But with baseball’s season already in some doubt after a coronavirus outbreak with the Miami Marlins, the Carolina Panthers and others could see further changes to the schedule in an ever-changing situation.
There is plenty riding on the season for the Panthers despite their relative lack of expectations. They will need to start trending on an upward curve sooner rather than later. And the prospect of no preseason games has the potential to harm the chances of those on the roster bubble looking for a chance to shine.
Continuing our countdown series ahead of the new campaign, we now turn our attention to Carolina’s No. 47. Jordan Mack was quickly snapped up by the Panthers after going undrafted. And he has a likable skill set at a linebacker position that is relatively devoid of any real depth.
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How will Jordan Mack transition with the Carolina Panthers?
Not being able to attend the NFL Scouting Combine due to injury undoubtedly hurt Mack’s chances of hearing his name called. But that shouldn’t detract from the fact that the player has a good chance of catching the eye when the team finally reports for training camp in the coming days.
Mack is athletic and versatile, which is something the Panthers looked for in almost every draft pick and free-agent signing. The former Virginia standout made a smooth transition from defensive back to linebacker over the last three years of his college career. And this saw his production increase considerably.
He eventually recorded 14.5 sacks, 24.5 tackles for loss, 289 combined tackles, 122 solo tackles, and six forced fumbles. Mack developed a real instinct for being around the ball consistently. And he had no trouble getting in the opposition’s backfield on passing downs.
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The player is a good size at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds. So it would be a shock if he didn’t make his presence felt at the next level.
Carolina might opt to go with experience over unproven youth give they won’t see any of them on the field due to the canceled preseason. And this puts even more pressure on Mack and others to deliver the goods during team drills.
Losing perennial All-Pro Luke Kuechly to a shock retirement earlier this offseason was a substantial blow for the Panthers. They seem happy with Tahir Whitehead as a short-term replacement. So there won’t be any expectations on someone like Mack contributing right away if he makes the roster.
With the league also planning to increase practice squad numbers to 16 in 2020. This is also another route Carolina can go down with Mack. However, this might open the door for another interested team to acquire his services. And the player was reportedly in high demand during his brief period in undrafted free agency.
Mack has all the tools needed to become a success in the NFL. He does need to work on his tackling technique in one-on-one situations at the next level. And his durability is another red flag that played a leading role in him going undrafted.
That being said, there is plenty to like about his ceiling. His pass-rushing moves are accomplished. And he possesses the power and footwork to back this up.
The next few weeks will be crucial for Mack. But he looks more than ready for the challenge that awaits him in a professional environment.