Vikings Draft Targets: Is Khalil Mack the Next Clay Matthews?


Oct 19, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Bulls linebacker Khalil Mack (46) against the Massachusetts Minutemen at University of Buffalo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The whole “let’s compare draft prospects to established NFL stars” game is always a little bit of a perilous exercise, and arguably a completely useless one. But it also happens to be a lot of fun so let’s play it anyway.

Today’s edition of the unfair, possibly superficial and meaningless comparison game features Khalil Mack, the athletic and explosive MAC defensive player of the year who is currently getting tons of buzz as a potential Vikings draft pick.

Which established NFL superstar does Mack compare to according to draft expert Daniel Jeremiah?

How about the Claymaker himself?

Yes, Jeremiah went there with Mack, comparing the linebacker to Clay Matthews of the hated Green Bay Packers. Jeremiah said:

Mack is one of my favorite players in this draft class. He has a relentless motor, explosive get-off and violent hands, three of the same qualities I noticed in Clay Matthews when I scouted him at USC. Matthews is more fluid and has an easier time bending the edge, but he and Mack are both ideal fits as 3-4 outside linebackers. Their physical measurables are almost identical. Matthews produced 10 sacks in his rookie campaign, and Mack is plenty capable of matching that number in his inaugural season.

The Clay Matthews comparison opens up that whole 4-3 vs. 3-4 can of worms. Lots of folks would love to see the Vikings adopt the 3-4, but I think it’s sort of a silly discussion, especially with Mike Zimmer, a guy who has shown great scheme flexibility over his career, as head coach/defensive guru.

My suspicion is that Zimmer looks at these guys only in terms of talent and positional need, and would be willing to adapt his scheme as needed.

In other words, I wouldn’t get too caught up in the scheme thing with Mack and would just look at the ability, which is pretty exceptional.

Is he destined to be another Clay Matthews? A lot of things would have to go right. But the potential is there for Mack to be that kind of player, and that’s why you have to give him a look at #8.

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