One thing you have to like after first meeting Browns top draft pick Alex Mack is the intelligence he brings to a conversation.
It remains to be seen if the offense's points-per-game average increases next season, but the collective team IQ will move upward. Mack, picked 21st overall, has a degree in legal studies from Cal-Berkeley. He could probably find work without a problem, even in today's terrible economy.
Despite all the successful work he's done in the classroom, Mack wants no part of thinking about life in the real world for several more years. An admitted football junkie, he can't wait to strap on a Browns helmet and begin his NFL career.
"I love the game of football," Mack said in a meet-and-greet press conference with reporters Sunday. "I'm fired up to be here. I never really expected to be here. I wasn't the kid in Pop Warner who was convinced he was going to be in the NFL. I want to do this as long as possible. After I can't do it anymore, I'll find out what to do with the rest of my life."
Asked what he can do with a degree in legal studies, he said, "Play football."
Mack figured he'd be selected in the late first round or somewhere in the second round. He had no idea the Browns, after trading down three times, would use a pick midway through the first round on him.
The popular landing spot for Mack in pre-draft publications was Pittsburgh. The Steelers would like an upgrade over Justin Hartwig. When the Steelers need an offensive lineman, they don't hesitate to grab one as early as they can in the draft.
Perhaps assuming Mack wouldn't still be on the board with their choice early in the second round, the Browns took Mack and used two of their three second-round picks to bolster a weak receiving corps by landing Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi.
The Browns entered the process late in their pursuit of Mack. In one meeting with team officials Mack was asked 20 to 30 questions, some of which were off-beat. He answered all but two questions accurately, which apparently pleased coach Eric Mangini.
One question challenged him to come up with one thing he would save if his house was on fire. Mack admittedly cheated on that one because he had been asked the same question before (his answer was his computer).
Once the Browns zeroed in on Mack, they did everything possible to test his football intelligence. No other team came close to testing his mental capacity.
"They put me through a lot of meetings and had me meet a lot of people," Mack said. "They were interested in seeing how much I learned from the material. Other teams just had a meet-and-great and wanted to see your personality. Here they explained plays to me, distracted me with another interview, then had me come back to see how much I remembered."
Mack's physical ability on the field will ultimately be the main criterion by which he'll be judged. He was twice named winner of the Morris Trophy as the top offensive lineman in the Pac-10, which speaks volumes for his playing ability.
But coaches will tell you that intelligence is more important for offensive linemen than other position areas. Mack makes the grade in that department.