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Top prospects pattern their games after Mack

Linebacker Khalil Mack
Linebacker Khalil Mack

During media sessions last week at the NFL Combine, a half-dozen top prospects revealed that they study and try to emulate Bears star outside linebacker Khalil Mack.

"I watched a lot of Khalil Mack; his highlights and everything," said Auburn linebacker Nick Coe. "Sometimes I just watch a full game just on him and nobody else. That's who I admire the most."

Selected by the Raiders with the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft, Mack has recorded 61.5 sacks in six NFL seasons, including 21.0 the last two years with the Bears—the most sacks by any player in his first two seasons with the team.

Coe, a 6-5, 291-pounder who registered 9.0 sacks and 21.0 tackles-for-loss in 29 games the past three seasons at Auburn, isn't the only Mack fan heading into the NFL Draft.

"I watch a lot of film on Khalil Mack because he's a big lineman and I love watching him because he uses his power and speed," said Tennessee linebacker Darrell Taylor, a 6-4, 255-pounder who compiled 19.5 sacks and 26.5 tackles-for-loss in 38 games the past four seasons for the Volunteers. "I like to model my game off of him."

Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa, a 6-6, 280-pounder who posted 10.5 sacks as a sophomore in 2018 and 11.5 as a junior in 2019, marvels at how Mack's strength enables him to extend an arm and keep offensive linemen away from him.

"It's something I've watched and detailed very closely," Epenesa said. "I've seen him throw some people around with just using his speed and sticking his arm out and getting in [the offensive lineman's] chest. He's able to move people."

Boise State linebacker Curtis Weaver also appreciates that aspect of Mack's game.

"Watching a Khalil Mack and how he does that 'long arm,' that's something I look at, trying to put that in my game," said Weaver, a 6-3, 265-pounder who recorded 34.0 sacks and 47.5 tackles-for-loss in 40 games over three seasons at Boise State.

Alabama linebacker Anfernee Jennings also patterns his game after Mack.

"I watch a lot of the speed and power guys like [the Chargers'] Melvin Ingram and Khalil Mack," said Jennings, a 6-3, 259-pounder who registered 14.5 sacks and 33.5 tackles-for-loss in 48 games the past four seasons with the Crimson Tide. "I try to do a lot of the things they do."

Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, who's widely considered among the top prospects in the draft, doesn't like to compare himself with other players. But he added that he does study and try to emulate NFL stars such as Mack, the Broncos' Von Miller, the Texans' J.J. Watt and the Chargers' Nick Bosa.

"I do try to look at a lot of different players and take little things from them," Young said.