Despite going 7-9 in 2019, the Denver Broncos showed hope for the future. On offense, quarterback Drew Lock played good football once he took over and down the stretch, the team rallied around him. The ordinarily stout Broncos defense was solid on the year, ranking 12th in yards allowed and 10th in points surrendered per game.
As defensive-minded head coach Vic Fangio enters year two next season, he'll need some more talent to work with. The team's inside linebacker picture isn't completely clear. Starter Alexander Johnson is entering the final year of his deal, and Denver has until March 17 to decide whether or not to bring back Todd Davis for the last year of his. Virginia linebacker Jordan Mack could help as a depth option.
A four-year player for the Cavaliers, Mack has amassed quite the stat line. Two hundred eighty-nine career tackles (24.5 for losses), 14.5 sacks, and six forced fumbles. Seven-and-a-half of those sacks came in 2019, adding to his impressive resume. He built a reputation as a downhill inside linebacker that plays an aggressive brand of football. That will play in Fangio's system down the line.
Standing 6-foot-2 and weighing 230 pounds, Mack has decent size for a linebacker and fits into the direction the NFL is going. Teams love sideline-to-sideline athleticism, but every defense should have a “thumper” that just flat-out makes plays. Mack fits that description. He makes up for lack of top-end speed with some solid burst as he hits running lanes and covers in the flats. A converted defensive back, he's still learning the position — which is scary.
Mack will be limited at the NFL level due to his lack of polish in the rest of his game. In coverage, he'll be restricted to short routes. Zone coverage shouldn't be a huge problem, but other than that, don't expect to see him trailing running backs. Tight ends running short outs and/or blocking for running backs would be Mack's best assignments on plays near the outside of the box.
As previously mentioned, Fangio places emphasis on the Broncos' defense. His scheme could use a player like Mack. Not too many NFL linebackers start from day one, which plays to Mack's favor. Beginning as a special teamer and working his way into the lineup later would be ideal.
As things currently stand, Mack is a projected late-round pick. Should he still be available on day three, any team would be wise to pick him up. With the team moving in a positive direction, Fangio and the Broncos serve as a solid fit.