Devy Watch: TE Alize Mack, Notre Dame

A common sentiment that you may have heard amongst the Devy community is, “Don’t draft tight ends in your devy drafts.” While I generally endorse this idea, there should certainly be some exceptions to this line of thinking. Those who drafted OJ Howard and Evan Engram in devy leagues are quite literally grinning from ear to ear in a recliner on cloud nine after this past offseason. I fully understand the notion of how difficult it is to project tight ends to the NFL, and that even after they reach the professional ranks, it might take them multiple years to actually produce and contribute. However, with the rapid expansion of TE premium and 2-TE required leagues, I think that this notion of not drafting devy tight ends should be slightly suppressed. The key will be deciding who you should draft. In our recent DFF Devy Blue Chips draft Alize Mack was that guy for me.

Background

Alize Mack (formerly Alize Jones) is a 6’4 ¾ ” 251-pound tight end for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. While the new name may not sound familiar, this former high school All-American didn’t arrive in South Bend without accolades. Mack was rated as the #63 overall prospect and #1 tight end prospect in the class of 2015. He earned instant playing time for the Irish, as he played in all 13 games as a true freshman while starting five of them. Mack hauled in 13 balls for 190 yards at a solid 14.6 ypc clip during his debut campaign. His ascension as the next great Notre Dame tight end was looking inevitable as a sophomore, and that’s when the air got popped right out of the balloon. Just before the start of the 2016 season, Mack was ruled academically ineligible. Coach Brian Kelly allowed Mack to practice with the team, but the disappointment from both Mack and the coaching staff was palpable. Now, many months later with a new perspective on football and life, Mack has finally been cleared to play the 2017 season.

The Good Stuff

The fact that Mack was able to step in and have an immediate impact from day one as a freshman just speaks to his pass-catching talents. Mack was insanely productive in high school, highlighted by his 41-catch, 930-yard, 13 TD season as a senior. Running some quick math on those numbers leads to a monstrous 22.6 ypc average! Winning through the air has never been a question for Mack, as he had all the looks of an excellent move tight end. At the high school Nike SPARQ combine, he posted the top 20-yard shuttle time (4.06) and SPARQ rating (99.69) among his position group along with solid 40-yard dash and vertical jump scores. Mack’s shuttle time was elite and would have topped OJ Howard, Evan Engram, and David Njoku’s scores from this past combine.

Las Vegas (Nev) Bishop Gorman 2015 TE Alize Jones 6–4 215 lit up the NIKE Camp with a 4.75–40, 4.06 shuttle & 34" vertical, big time athlete
— Greg Biggins (@GregBiggins) May 11, 2013

On his high school tape, Mack showed off his athleticism and receiving prowess at a dominant level. He is a fluid runner who quickly converts his receptions into yards after the catch. Mack displays a large catch radius and appears very natural at catching passes with his hands away from his frame. He shows explosive seam stretching ability, as well as the ability to get off the line quickly when he lines up outside the hash marks. Receiving skills are absolutely the strength of his game, and he should have no trouble translating this aspect as his career progresses.

Furthermore, Alize Mack wants to become a complete tight end and even said as much. He publicly stated that one of the reasons he chose Notre Dame is because he knew they would require him to become an excellent blocker and a well-rounded player. Mack dedicated himself to transforming his body during his academically ineligible season. He has gone from a wiry 220 pounder when he entered the program, to now weighing in at a hefty 250 pounds in order to better handle the rigors of playing in-line in the trenches.

Let’s See It

2017 is a huge year for Mack for a variety of reasons. The hesitation that many around the scouting community have with Mack is that he has shown very little at the collegiate level. He is essentially a pure projection player at this point, which absolutely creates risk and doubt until he puts some plays on tape and some production in the box score for us to evaluate. The good news is that he is projected to be a full-time player for the Irish this season and should be given plenty of opportunities to show the nation what he can do on a big stage. Also working in Mack’s favor is the chemistry he has shown with incoming starting QB Brandon Wimbush. Wimbush targeted him early and often in the Notre Dame Spring Game, as he hauled in a team high 5 catches for 46 yards including one highlight reel grab. With the first game just weeks away, the time has finally come for the Devy community to see if Alize Mack can turn hype into on-field production.

Alizé Jones taking a page out of the Odell Beckham Jr. handbook 🏈🍀 pic.twitter.com/8swyDehNnT
— Tamara Brown (@NDSportsBlogger) August 29, 2015

The Bottom Line

I chose the high upside gamble when it came to drafting a Devy tight end in our most recent startup. Employing this strategy may not pay off, but with the late-round capital I paid for Alize Mack, I think that shooting for the stars is the way to go at the position. If you’re in a deep 2-TE required or TE premium Devy league, target an athletic high-upside guy like Mack in the later portions of your draft. If you’re lucky, you could be sitting on the next David Njoku in a couple of years.


Originally published at dynastyfootballfactory.com on August 15, 2017.