Heading into the 2009 NFL Draft, I never expected the Cleveland Browns to draft Alex Mack, probably because the team was originally scheduled to pick higher than No. 21 overall. After a trade with the New York Jets that allowed them to take Mark Sanchez, the Browns took a center in an attempt to solidify the offensive line from the middle to the left.
I didn't have super high expectations for Mack, probably because Jeff Faine had underachieved as the team's first-round center a couple years earlier. The big question for me was whether Mack would be able to handle delivering shotgun snaps to our quarterbacks smoothly.
Even though he played right away, Mack had the benefit of having a veteran center like Hank Fraley on the roster. Fraley played alongside Mack at the guard position, and I imagine it made Mack's transition to the NFL that much smoother. Mack ended up exceeding my expectations in his rookie season; there were no snap issues, and his blocking all-around and enthusiasm for the game were superb.
Like some of the other fan favorites on the Browns (i.e. see the Joe Haden post from earlier), Mack just does a lot of things that make him likable. Case in point: he was very excited to be named a replacement player to the Pro Bowl, and on the final play of the game, he begged for a lateral several times. He finally got the ball, and bulldozed his way for a touchdown.
There have been some questions as to whether or not he can handle a good 4-3 defensive front instead of a 3-4 defensive front. He is getting better over time, and with some upgrades on the right side of the line, I think Mack will continue to flourish as a member of the Browns.
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