The Baltimore Ravens got quite a bargain when they selected defensive tackle Daylon Mack in the fifth round (No. 122 overall) of the 2019 NFL Draft. Mack was coming off a senior year at Texas A&M in which he posted 5.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for a loss. The 6’ 1” and 340 pound defensive lineman managed to rebound after a disappointing sophomore and junior year.
Mack was an Under Armour All-American coming out of Gladewater High School in Texas. He was considered a five-star recruit when he decided to attend Texas A&M. He showed promise as a freshman rotational player and ended his season with a forced fumble in the Aggies' loss to Louisville in the Music City Bowl.
The plan to go to the NFL after a couple of seasons in college seemed to be in tact. All Mack had to do was build on his outstanding freshman season. Unfortunately, a major change in his life had an adverse impact after his excellent freshman year.
"My parents got a divorce during my freshman year in college," Mack said at the Scouting Combine in March. "During the season it didn't affect me much but when I got home I saw how different things were."
Although he was never diagnosed with depression (he didn't seek help), Mack knows he was depressed. His production on the field reflected it. Mack struggled over the next two seasons. He only started one game only posting a combined 2.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for a loss over the next two years. Mack considered transferring but decided to stick it out with Texas A&M.
Another change. This time, on the football field helped turn things around for the once budding star when new head coach Jimbo Fisher was hired to take over the program. Fisher then hired Mike Elko to be the defensive coordinator in 2018. He also had Elijah Robinson take over as the defensive line coach. Mack credits these three coaches with helping him turn things around.
"They came in and gave me a different mentality. They changed my life," Mack said.
The new defensive scheme allowed Mack to return to the up field, attacking player that he once was. He became known for his disruptive play during his senior year. Next up was an invitation to the East-West Shrine game where Mack played well enough to earn a call to play in the Reese's Senior Bowl the following week.
Mack's performance during both weeks of practice paid off. The Ravens have always placed a heavy emphasis on college all-star games. Former GM Ozzie Newsome made the annual trip to St. Petersburg for the East-West Shrine week practices. He would have current GM Eric DeCosta right by his side.
This year DeCosta made the trip to both weeks as the Ravens GM. Fortunately for Mack, DeCosta got to see him stand out in person.
"Daylon Mack is a big, strong guy we saw at the East-West Shrine game and the Senior Bowl. He has two-gap ability as a nose tackle but he's also a sneaky pass rusher. He ran a five-flat 40-yard dash. For a big guy, he moves pretty well," DeCosta said after the final day of the draft.
The college years were an up and down rollercoaster ride for Mack. He ended on a good note and now finds himself with a franchise that prides itself on defense. He will have veterans Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce to serve as mentors as well.