The New York Giants will have a plethora of unproven young wide receivers competing for what is likely one or two roster spots whenever they get to training camp. Could Austin Mack, an undrafted free agent from Ohio State, be one the youngsters who separates himself and earns a role on the 2020 Giants?
Let’s take a closer look as we continue profiling the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.
Position: Wide receiver
Contract: Year 1 of three-year, $2.297 million deal | Guaranteed: $87,500
5 questions with Land Grant Holy Land
Land Grant Holy Land is SB Nation’s Ohio State website. Gene Ross from ‘Land Grant’ answered some questions about Mack.
Ed: Why do you believe Mack went undrafted, and did that surprise you?
Gene: Mack going undrafted was not a huge surprise. Despite being a talented wideout, he has suffered from some inconsistencies as a result of nagging injuries over the course of his career at Ohio State. Mack only played in eight games his junior year after needing surgery for a foot injury that ended his season, and missed three games with an undisclosed ailment this past year. The missed time caused him to fall behind in the depth chart, and although the production was there when he was on the field, he did not put up enough numbers to make himself into an NFL Draft pick.
Ed: What little I have watched of Mack, he seems like a reliable possession type receiver. Is that an accurate description?
Gene: Absolutely. Mack isn’t going to kill anyone with his speed, and while he has good size at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, that isn’t going to wow people either. However, what he does have is an incredibly reliable set of hands. Even in his limited playing time, Mack caught just about everything thrown his way, whether it be an over the shoulder ball in the corner of the end zone or a high-point grab over a defensive back. If the ball is put in his vicinity, Mack is more than likely going to come down with it. He also possesses great strength and body control to win those 50/50 balls.
Ed: What in your mind is most memorable about Mack’s Ohio State career? Is there maybe one specific “must-see” highlight?
Gene: This is an easy one. Mack had a phenomenal catch in a huge spot in the 2017 Michigan game (which i have linked below). Down six in the third quarter, a freshman QB by the name of Dwayne Haskins came in to replace an injured J.T. Barrett on a crucial drive. On 3rd-and-13, Haskins delivered a strike to Austin Mack along the sideline, who caught the ball over a Wolverines defender and held onto it through the contact as another DB came in and laid the hit on him. Ohio State would score three plays later to take their first lead of the game, but it was Mack’s 27-yard catch that allowed them to put those points on the board.
Ed: If he makes it with the Giants it will be because of what attribute or characteristic?
Gene: Mack could certainly make the team as a backup receiver, and if he does it will be because of his hands and his smarts. New York’s offense doesn’t exactly rely on speedsters down the sideline, and Mack’s ball-catching ability could prove to be a valuable asset to a still improving Daniel Jones. He is also a class act off the field, as he was president of Redefining Athletic Standards, a student organization at OSU he founded alongside other students to discuss issues on campus and help fellow student-athletes be defined by more than just sports. Between his hands, his route-running, and his intelligence, Mack has a real shot at cracking the roster.
Ed: If he doesn’t make it, what is likely to be his downfall?
Gene: Health and consistency. As previously mentioned, Mack just could not stay on the field at the college level. He never caught more than 27 passes in a single season at Ohio State, and never put up more than 400 yards receiving. The Giants have some wide receiver depth ahead of Mack, with the obvious trio of Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton at the top. Corey Coleman is an intriguing option, and like Mack needs to stay healthy to prove his worth. At the end of the day, Mack is shooting to at best be the team’s fourth or fifth wide receiver, and he must stay healthy in order to do so.
Overall, I think Mack does a lot of things well that the Giants organization will really like, and if he can finally put it all together, he could become a secret weapon in New York. Out of the trio of undrafted free agent receivers the team picked up this offseason, which includes Mack’s college teammate Binjimen Victor and LSU’s Derrick Dillon, I believe Mack has the best chance of cracking the roster. His play style is very similar to that of Sterling Shepard, and he could easily become a reliable option in the rotation right from Year 1.
How he got here
Mack caught 79 passes in four seasons with the Buckeyes. He was consistent over his final three seasons, catching 26, 26, and 27 passes.
As mentioned above, Mack was one of three undrafted free agent wide receivers added by the Giants.
In addition to Victor and Dillon, Mack will compete with Corey Coleman, Alex Bachman, Da’Mari Scott, and David Sills V for spots on the 53-man roster and practice squad.
The one thing that might give him an advantage is that at 215 pounds he is the biggest of the Giants’ receivers.
The Draft Network says Mack is “fearless going over the middle” and “Will easily fit in as a possession type of receiver at the next level.”
Mack might not be splashy, but he seems like a quarterback-friendly option at wide receiver who, if the ball comes his way, can help teams move the chains. Every offense can use players like that.