NFL offenses are consistently chasing explosive plays in the passing game. Filling out your wide receiver corps with dynamic playmakers is more imperative now than ever before. If your favorite team is looking for a pass-catcher who can win downfield, Pittsburgh's Taysir Mack may be the man for the job. Mack is an underrated gem that averaged a healthy 17.1 yards per reception while developing excellent chemistry alongside Kenny Pickett. Mack recorded more than 2,000 receiving yards while making 39 appearances for the Panthers. Mack recently spoke exclusively with The Draft Network about his big-play ability, his favorite route to run, why Pickett should be the first quarterback drafted, his experience at this year's NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, and so much more. JM: You had a strong season in 2021 by all accounts. You made seven starts and recorded 21 catches for 461 yards. How do you reflect on your final season as a Pitt Panther? Mack: It was definitely an experience I’ll always remember. It’s a great program. I created a special bond with my quarterback Kenny Pickett throughout our years together. We played for so many great coaches. I played for a great receivers coach in Brennan Marion. Playing at Pittsburgh allowed me a chance to better develop my overall feel for the game. We made a lot of explosive plays together in that offense. The end result was our team winning an ACC Championship. I was unfortunately hurt down the stretch and didn’t participate in that triumph, but I did everything I could to help the team off the field. JM: We’re going to touch on all of those topics. Speaking of explosive plays, you averaged a team-high 17.1 yards per reception in 2021. That’s such a terrific number. What is it about your game that led to so many big plays? Mack: First and foremost, I would credit my ability to create separation as a route-runner. That’s something I’ve spent a lot of time on. I do a great job preparing myself for a game. I watch an extensive amount of film on my upcoming opponents. I’m always familiar with the cornerbacks I’ll encounter in coverage before we take the field. I pay close attention to the details. I always wanted to be that reliable receiver that Pickett would look for on third and fourth downs. JM: It was an arm injury that unfortunately ended your season in late October. How’s the recovery process treating you? Mack: I’m fully recovered at this point. I was dealing with a fractured collarbone. Thank God I didn’t require surgery or anything like that. My shoulder was able to heal on its own. It just needed time. I’ve been training as I get ready to perform at my pro day. JM: And when is Pittsburgh’s Pro Day? What are you most looking forward to? Mack: Pro day is March 23. I’m really looking forward to showcasing my talents all throughout pro day. I plan on showing people that all of the hard work I’ve been putting in throughout this process has paid off. I’m a better player today than I was yesterday. This draft process can be difficult, but I’ve been applying myself. I can’t wait for the scouts to see the type of wide receiver I really am. I’m gonna go out there and run fast, smooth routes. That’s what I’m all about at the end of the day. JM: We’re excited for you. You talked about creating separation as a route-runner. Do you have a favorite route to run? Mack: That’s a tough question because there are so many routes I love running. One of my favorite routes to run is a comeback route. That’s the honest truth. There are so many different ways to run a comeback route. It’s so versatile. The comeback route in itself can be so complex. Being an X-receiver on the boundary, the comeback route is a “me against you” type of route. I’m getting out of my breaks faster than the cornerback will on a comeback route. There are so many components that go into the comeback route. You have to sink and drop your hips around the 18-yard mark and come out of your break. The comeback route is an NFL route. You’re not going to last long in the NFL if you can’t efficiently run a comeback. You have to beat that cornerback on an island. It’s me against you. I have to get out of my spot and get back to the ball faster than the cornerback does. You can get creative. With me being an X-receiver, I was always to the backside of the progression. I had a lot of time to sit here and play around with guys. I might stutter and drop my hips as I get out of my breaks. When it came to Cover 3 coverage, I was trying to sit down and turn guys around as I got into their blind spots. There are a lot of ways to design and set up the comeback route. It allows me to set guys up before shutting it down and running the comeback. That’s one of my favorite routes for sure. JM: That’s an excellent, in-depth explanation. You alluded to the chemistry you built alongside Kenny Pickett throughout the years. What can you tell us about him as a man and as a quarterback? Mack: Kenny’s like Superman to me (laughs). He’ll definitely surprise you. He’s a great person first and foremost. He just got engaged recently. He’s a big family man. He’s a leader in all aspects. I still remember the first day I met Pickett. He picked me up one day and we went to the indoor field late at night to get some extra work in. We just ran routes and threw the ball together. That’s how we started to create a special bond with one another. That’s what we did the very first time I met him. We felt each other out on the field and began getting to know one another. I have so much respect for Kenny. Even all throughout my injuries, he would find time to throw me the ball. There were times where I was stationary on a scooter and he would throw me the ball (laughs). There were other times where I wasn’t 100% and I couldn’t run every route, but Kenny and I still got together and practiced the routes I could run while healing. If I couldn’t do that, we would watch film together. I never felt left out. We created a bond through a lot of passing completions. That chemistry boils down to him being a great guy. He’s somebody you want to be around due to his character and work ethic. Kenny works extremely hard. There were times where he called me when I was in New York and he was in New Jersey training. I just drove out to Jersey to run routes and throw the ball with him. He wanted me to have that feeling and for us to continue building that chemistry. JM: He sounds like a terrific friend. Do you think he’s the best quarterback in the draft? Mack: There’s no doubt about it. He’s definitely the best quarterback in the draft. JM: You performed at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. What was that experience like? What did you prove to the NFL scouts and coaches in attendance? Mack: I had a great experience out there. It gave me an opportunity to get in front of several scouts. I had so many productive conversations. A lot of NFL teams got to know me a little better throughout that process. There’s a difference between doing research on somebody and getting in front of them live in person. I was able to showcase my personality and work ethic. I think a lot of scouts realized how much I love the game of football. I learned a lot out there. I was around so many great athletes from all over the country, both receivers and cornerbacks included. Iron sharpens iron. I met and worked with so many great coaches. I had Terrance Mathis as my receivers coach, who played for 12 years in the league. He added so many dimensions to my game throughout the short amount of time we spent together. He’s a technician and provided so much positive feedback. He was schooling me on the differences between college and the NFL from an alignment and formation perspective. We talked about the depth of certain routes, rotations, and so on. It was very helpful. He gave me so much insight. We’re all on the same journey together and it was a productive week. It was another opportunity to showcase myself. It’s a blessing at the end of the day. This being my first event after my shoulder injury, it felt great to put the pads on again while getting comfortable before I head to a rookie mini-camp in a few month's time. JM: You made the most of that opportunity. Which teams did you meet with at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl? Did you have strong conversations and connections with any teams in particular? Mack: I met with the Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, and New York Jets to name a few. I met with roughly 14 teams in total. JM: There’s a lot of interest in you. I’ve really appreciated your time today. Why should a team use one of their draft picks on Taysir Mack? Mack: At the end of the day, you’re drafting a selfless player. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help the team. The goal is to win football games as a team and it takes all 53 players. The goal is to compete. I plan on coming to work every day as the ultimate competitor. You can count on me. I’m always going to fight through adversity and put the team first. I can be that alpha-type receiver on the boundary that can produce on Sundays. I’m always going to put my best foot forward.
- Aug 22, 2022
- Aug 22, 2022