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The problems with the Mangini-era drafts have been well documented. (Not even gonna link.) But less widely acknowledged is that he won the Sanchez trade.
The actual trade was the Browns’ #5 pick in 2009 (Sanchez) for #21 (Mack), #52 (Veikune) plus Jets vets Coleman, Ratliff, and Elam, plus two trade-backs for late picks (Davis and Francies). Never mind that the Seahawks saved Mangini from himself by taking Aaron Curry at #4. Never mind that he traded #17 (Freeman) for the #19 (Maclin) before settling on #21. Seems foolish to talk about Percy Harvin being taken with the pick after Mack… can you imagine Harvin in the Shurmur offense? Hell, never mind that six of the seven players coming the Browns way are no longer factors in the league.
Alex Mack straight-up for Mark Sanchez is a win.
Since 2009 Alex Mack has started every game at center for the Browns. That’s 48 in a row; rather a major accomplishment for an NFL player. In so doing, Mack has gained a reputation as being one of the top five centers in the league. We won’t cite the pro-bowl appearance since that was an injury-replacement on the third team. But still pro-bowl appearance and effectively 4th team AFC center in his second year. In short: Mack has done all that could have been expected from him. In fact, he’s exceeded reasonable expectations. (Here’s one re-draft of the 2009 first round that rates only Brian Cushing ahead of Mack for best value.)
Mack is a UFA at the end of this year.
Why are the Browns’ dragging their feet in extending his contract? Why are the Browns leaving the door open for him to leave as a free-agent?
I’m not the guy who pours through the game tape looking at footwork, push, low center of gravity, knee bend, and explosive hands. And don’t even start with the fluid hips talk, I have enough of an internal struggle with hand-size measurements.
No I prefer to find reputable evaluators and defer to them. If that means the dreaded Pro-Football-Focus ratings, so be it. Matt Miller is one such resource. Here’s rating of centers Bleacher Report*: Alex Mack #4. It goes:
1. Chris Myers, Texans
2. Mike Pouncey, Dolphins
3. Max Unger, Seahawks
4. ALEX MACK, Browns
5. Jonathan Goodwin, 49ers
6. John Sullivan, Vikings
7. Nick Mangold, Jets
23. Matt Birk, Ravens, retired. Well come back to this.
Not buying Miller? Here’s what Pat Kirwin has to say in his o-line ratings:
1. Maurkice Pouncey, Steelers
2. Ryan Kalil, Panthers
3. Chris Myers, Texans
4. Max Unger, Seahawks
5. Mike Pouncey, Dolphins
Honorable mention: Alex Mack