Alex Mack has been in the news a lot – he went to the Pro Bowl, he was voted to the 2013 All-Pro team, and his contract with the Cleveland Browns is expired. The Browns recently slapped a transition tag on him (allowing the Browns to match any offer made from another team), and that was a very good move…the rebuilding Browns cannot afford to lose such a fundamental piece of their offense. What is the story of Alex Mack, center for the Cleveland Browns?
Mack went to the University of California, Berkley, where he majored in legal studies. In 2008, he won the Draddy trophy, which honors academic achievement. Meanwhile, on the field, Mack played lights-out for the Golden Bears, making the first-team All-Pac-10 three years in a row (2006, 2007, and 2008). In the 2009 draft, Mack was universally ranked as the best center, and the Browns picked him up in the first round with the 21st overall pick.
At first, his rookie season in the NFL was somewhat shaky. But he turned it around quickly, and ended up finishing with strength. In 2010, Mack had a great season and was named to his first Pro Bowl. The following year he was named an alternate to the 2011 Pro Bowl. As we all know, in 2013 he not only made his second official Pro Bowl, he was voted an All-Pro by the Associated Press. In his 5-year career with the Browns, he has started every single game, putting his total to 80 starts. That’s toughness.
Speaking of toughness, Mack has more than enough of that stuff. In the Browns’ 2011 matchup with the Tennessee Titans, Mack played through appendicitis. Read that again, he played NFL football, at a very bruising position, with appendicitis. Luckily for his unbroken starting streak, the Titans game came right before a bye week. He had surgery, and returned as starter for the next game against the Oakland Raiders. I don’t care who you are, that’s hard core.
Mack stands out as one of the few good Cleveland draft choices. Many argue (and I agree with them) that one of the biggest reasons the Browns have not had success in the past couple of decades is that their drafts have been subpar. They cannot afford to lose one of their few great picks in Mack. The center position is the fundamental core of the O-line, and will be especially important considering that the 2014 Browns will likely be fielding a rookie QB. If any team makes Mack an offer, the Browns must match it. A top-5 center is hard to come by, and thanks to the 2009 draft, the Browns have one in their grasp. They better not lose him.