Scouting report and breakdown for 2018 outside linebacker Jalen Mackie from St. Thomas Aquinas High School.
St. Thomas Aquinas High School is one of the premier programs in Florida. It has produced a plethora of talented football players, from Michael Irvin to Joey Bosa and all points in between.
Last year’s class was headlined by Bosa’s younger brother, Nick, who followed his brother’s footsteps and signed with Ohio State.
The 2017 cycle has some more Raiders making waves, headlined by 4-Star quarterback Jake Allen and 5-star wide receiver Trevon Grimes.
As for the next crop, Asante Samuel Jr. will be the big fish of St. Thomas Aquinas’ 2018 class. And alongside Allen, Grimes and Samuel is a teammate with a lot of potential who is currently flying under the radar.
Meet 2018 outside linebacker Jalen Mackie. He’s Campus Insiders’ recruit to watch, so let’s take a look at his game.
He transferred to St. Thomas Aquinas in January from University School of Nova Southeastern, and he’s hungry to get better.
“[St. Thomas Aquinas] was a better opportunity for me at the time,” Mackie said. “I just want a D-1 offer.”
Let’s look at what Mackie showed on film.
Jalen Mackie, 2018 OLB, St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
At 6-foot-1, the transfer from University High School has the height and length to make an impact as a “bear” linebacker (defensive end-linebacker hybrid).
He’s already tall enough to play the position effectively. Although, ideally, he’ll grow a couple inches as he improves his technique.
At 225 lbs, Mackie won’t be thrown around. He’ll do the throwing. It wouldn’t hurt him to add 5-10 lbs to help deal with some of the bigger offensive tackles he’ll see, but 6-foot-1, 225 lbs is big enough in the grand scheme of things.
What He Brings
Mackie fires off the ball whether he’s standing up on the line or in a three-point stance. More importantly, he wraps up and can even pack some pop when he hits ball carriers and quarterbacks. First and foremost the goal is to make the tackle, but if you can lay the wood when doing it that’s a bonus. It’ll stick in the heads of quarterbacks and running backs the next time they end up in a similar situation.
Right now, he’s a straight-line rusher — someone to expose offensive tackles with slow first steps, who can’t kick back and ride edge rushers down the pocket.
Mackie keeps his eyes up and disengages well to read and react when stopping the run. On top of being powerful enough to blow up pulling linemen, he’s strong enough to collapse a pocket with a bull rush if he keeps his pad level down to maintain leverage.
What’s intriguing about him as a pass rusher is, while he can get deep in the backfield quickly, he’s agile enough to set offensive tackles up with an inside move to reach the quarterback. That speed and agility will come in handy as he grows as a drop-back defender in both zone and man coverages.
3 Ways To Improve
Hand fighting is vital at the next level for pass rushers. Mackie needs to learn how to move offensive tackles with more than just his natural abilities. When he decides to throw a swim move, he needs to get skinny and keep his swim arm tight to avoid getting washed down or pancaked. And when he rips, he needs to be concise, decisive and swift in order to rip through cleanly and quickly.
With time he’ll learn half the battle is fought before the ball even hits the quarterback’s hands. Part of his maturation and growth with his technique is figuring out what he’s going to do based on pre-snap reads. Mackie needs to quickly analyze the small details of offensive linemen: how far their splits are, where their weight is shifted, etc. If he learns how to read those tiny details, he’ll capitalize on offensive tackles with their weight on their heels to cheat on passing play. He’ll read it, analyze it and attack it.
He’s quick and agile enough, but he needs to use those abilities in a different way when not dropping back. Mackie will learn he can’t get caught watching the ball instead of his man. He’s raw, but he’ll learn to read a quarterback’s eyes and figure out where the ball is going before it’s even thrown. If he works on flipping his hips, moving laterally and reading quarterbacks’ minds, he’ll be an all-around threat.
Mackie is raw in zone and man coverage, but he has the physical tools to hold his own. His best attributes are his ability to stop the run and rush the passer from the line of scrimmage.
If he maintains his weight, improves his technique while dropping back and tightens his pass-rush technique, he’ll be a successful outside linebacker-defensive end hybrid at the next level. He’s built for a 3-4 scheme.