Buffalo's Khalil Mack legitimizes himself as NFL Draft prospect against Ohio State

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The senior outside linebacker played in his biggest game of his season Saturday.

There wasn't a lot of doubt that Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack is an NFL Draft prospect. As the season progresses, it may just be an issue of how high in the draft he rises.

We currently have him rated as the 25th overall prospect. That's starting to look a little too low, however, and it seems that NFL teams might tend to agree.

In what should be the biggest game of his season, Mack did a lot more than hold his own – standing out both physically and athletically. Mack's stat line on the night was impressive, too, finishing with nine tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and an interception returned for a touchdown.

His impressive showing extends further than the stat line, however: Mack blitzed around the right end and suplexed Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller causing a fumble in the third quarter, but it was called back because of an unintentional face mask penalty.

It's Mack's pick-six interception that will leave most people talking, however. The interception came on a tunnel screen intended for freshman running back Dontre Wilson, but watch Mack effortlessly push off his blocker, turn and pull in the interception.

After intercepting it, Mack outran Wilson, one of the fastest freshmen in the country and Miller -- one of the fastest quarterbacks. It should also be noted that play was preceded by Mack just barely missing another sack.

Leading up the draft, that's probably the play ESPN and NFL Network will replay whenever Mack is discussed, but it may not be the one NFL teams key in on during their preparation.

Late in the fourth quarter, with a win firmly in Ohio State's grasp, Mack continued to play hard. He dropped into middle zone coverage, shutting down Miller's first read. When Miller broke the pocket to run the ball, Mack dropped out of coverage and closed on Miller for a tackle.

That wasn't the only play where Mack's coverage took away Miller's first read, though. Lined up on the left side in the first quarter, Mack dropped in coverage to take the slot receiver away. That forced Miller to go through multiple progressions but, unfortunately for Buffalo, they don't get enough push from the front four to compensate for not having Mack pass rush.

Later in the first quarter, Mack beat Ohio State left tackle Jack Mewhort (a possible top 100 player) around the edge. Despite Mewhort holding him, Mack got around the corner and forced Miller to throw the ball away while nearly getting an intentional grounding call in the end zone to boot.

He later fought off a block in space to tackle shifty Ohio State running back Jordan Hall in the third quarter.

Mack's game wasn't without flaws, however, as he looked a step slow diagnosing where the play was directed.

The pass rush plays and the interception will be the most memorable, but NFL teams will surely note Mack's all-around ability as the reason he begins rising up draft boards.

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