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2015 NFL DRAFT
player photo

Mark Herzlich

| | College: Boston College
 
Copyright NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange
Overview

Mark Herzlich was, to borrow a cliche, living the dream.

With Boston College searching for a star athlete to build around after quarterback Matt Ryan left for the Atlanta Falcons a year earlier, Herzlich responded, earning the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year award with an all-around season few linebackers could beat -- 110 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two touchdowns off of his six interceptions, more than any linebacker in the country.

Herzlich had put up similar numbers in 2007 (97 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, two fumbles recoveries, 1.5 sacks, one interception) and had impressed as a freshman by registering 42 tackles, five tackles for loss and a sack in limited duty.

Herzlich considered leaving Boston College early for the NFL. He returned because he was enjoying the collegiate experience. Had he left, he would have been a first-round pick. After all, Herzlich was given the top grade among all senior prospects by National Football Scouting entering the 2009 draft.

Herzlich in May 2009 decided to investigate the pain he'd been experiencing in his left leg and was given shocking news by doctors. The pain was caused by a rare form of bone cancer, Ewing's Sarcoma. Though the cancer has approximately a 70 percent recovery rate, the infection was in his left leg. Doctors cautioned that even if Herzlich survived, his football career was almost surely over. Instead, after seven months of chemotherapy and an additional five weeks of radiation, Herzlich was cancer-free.

Despite battling through various injuries that limited him from the time fall camp began, Herzlich played in all 12 regular-season games for the Eagles in 2010. He finished third on the team with 67 tackles, including 3.5 for loss. Herzlich's play improved as the season progressed, demonstrating he still has the knack for making big plays with four interceptions.

He might have proven he has ample fortitude and could be considered a second-round pick. But before any NFL team is willing to invest a draft selection in Herzlich, he will undergo a battery of tests performed by NFL team doctors. They'll test for cancer and gauge the strength in his left leg, in which Herzlich had a titanium rod inserted to expedite his recovery.

Analysis

Read & React: Rare diagnosis skills. Is seemingly always around the ball. Reads his keys quickly and takes excellent angles to beat the football to a spot. Aggressively attacks the line of scrimmage against the run, but can apply the brakes and change direction quickly if initially fooled by play-action.

Run defense: Good initial quickness toward the line of scrimmage against the run. Slices through gaps, showing good burst, lateral agility and instincts to consistently meet the ballcarrier near the line of scrimmage. Good balance, agility and vision to flow through the trash and the line of scrimmage, as well as laterally to string plays wide. Has an explosive pop to disengage quickly from blockers. Has the prototypical long arms, good upper-body strength and good balance required for breaking free quickly. Rare effort in pursuit laterally and downfield. Goes all out, all the time.

Pass defense: Gains good depth on his initial drop, staying balanced and ready to turn either direction quickly. Efficient footwork. Rarely takes a misstep. Has good, not great, overall agility and straight-line speed for sticking with his receiver or tight end assignment, but understands the angles of the game, remaining consistently in between his opponent and the passer. Tracks the quarterback's eyes and shows good route-recognition and the burst to break on the ball. Good ball skills.

Tackling: One of the more reliable open-field tacklers in the nation. Excellent balance for his size when breaking down to tackle smaller, quicker athletes. Shows proper technique in running through his tackles and his form is a picture of the hit-lift-drive technique. Shows legitimate explosiveness as a hitter, often knocking the ballcarrier backward. Wraps his arms securely rather than relying on impact when leading with his shoulder or helmet. Possesses the long arms and good hand-eye coordination to trip up ballcarriers in pursuit.

Pass Rush/Blitz: Very experienced as a pass rusher in this scheme, showing good timing of the snap, burst to beat the tackle wide and rare closing speed for a man of his size to chase down the quarterback. Typically relies on his speed or a good bull rush to gain freedom off the edge. Could be that much better off the edge with refinement of his pass-rush technique. Flashes a swim move, but doesn't use it enough. Must be more aware of protecting his knees. To his credit, he gets back up quickly, but is consistently knocked to the ground because he doesn't bend and use his hands effectively to slap away cut-blocks, especially from running backs. Flashes the leaping ability to jump over blocks, but isn't consistent in this area.

Intangibles: Highly respected on and off the field by the coaching staff, teammates and fans. Was a fixture on the BC sideline throughout the 2009-10 season while battling cancer. Helped raise over $200,000 for cancer research. Earned numerous honors for his courage and outreach, including the Disney Spirit Award, an honorary Lott Trophy and the ACC Commissioner's Cup. As part of his treatment for the weakening of the tibia in his left leg, Herzlich had a titanium rod inserted in the center of his fibula for support. He battled various other injuries in 2010, including a stress fracture in his right foot and a broken left hand.

2010 Season

Won the Rudy Award and the ACC's Brian Piccolo Award … started all 13 games and began playing full-time against Virginia Tech … third on the team with 65 tackles and 50 solo stops … tied for first on the team with two forced fumbles, second on the team with four interceptions and four pass break ups … also had 3.5 tackles for a loss … tallied five tackles (three solo) and one forced fumble against Nevada … had six solo tackles and an interception at Syracuse … totaled eight tackles (six solo) with one for a loss, a forced a fumble, a pass break up and an interception vs. Virginia … tallied six tackles at Duke … posted five solo tackles at Wake Forest … recorded six solo tackles and a pass breakup against Clemson … was second on the team with eight tackles (six solo) and a tackle for a loss against Maryland … had three tackles, broke up a pass and had an interception at NC State … had another pick, defended a pass and made seven tackles against Virginia Tech … racked up four solo tackles including one for a loss vs. Kent State … led the team onto the field in the season opener against Weber State, racking up five tackles.

2009 Season

Entered the 2009 season as the defending ACC Player of the Year and the league's active leader in career tackles with 247 … missed the entire season due to Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, which he overcame … earned numerous honors for his courage and outreach, including the Disney Spirit Award, an honorary Lott Trophy and the ACC Commissioner's Cup … recipient of The Joan S. and Thomas J. Giblin 50 Athletic Scholarship.

2008 Season

First Team All-American by Rivals.com and Scouts.com … AP Third Team All-American and honorable mention by Pro Football Weekly and SI.com … ACC Defensive Player of the Year … finalist for the Butkus Award, presented annually to the nation's top linebacker … quarterfinalist for the Lott Trophy … three-time ACC Player of the Week … his six interceptions were the eighth most in the country and the most by a linebacker … returned two picks for touchdowns which was tied for best in the country … his 5.79 solo tackles per game ranked 11th in the nation … led the team with 110 tackles and 81 stops, six interceptions, eight pass break-ups, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries … also had 13 tackles for a loss which ranks second … registered five tackles (two solo) including two tackles for a loss and one pass break-up against Vanderbilt in the Music City Bowl … had seven tackles with a tackle for a loss and two fumble recoveries against Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game … recorded six tackles, a pair of sacks, a pass break-up, and an interception vs. Maryland.

Notched nine tackles at Wake Forest … picked off two passes at Wake Forest, including a 34-yard interception return for touchdown … also had nine tackles in that game … recorded four solo tackles, one for a loss, and two pass break-ups at Florida State … led the team with 11 tackles (10 solos) and three pass break-ups vs. Notre Dame … recorded six solo tackles, two of them behind the line, and had an interception against Clemson … registered eight tackles and a sack at North Carolina … had a season-high 13 tackles vs. Virginia Tech … registered eight tackles at NC State … recorded six solo tackles against Rhode Island and returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown … notched six tackles and a pass break-up against UCF … recorded a career-high 11 solo tackles and had 13 total against Georgia Tech … had eight tackles against Kent State … also added an interception late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory against the Golden Flashes … recipient of The Joan S. and Thomas J. Giblin '50 Athletic Scholarship.

2007 Season

Started all 14 games … finished the season second in total tackles with 97 (55 solos, 42 assists) … led the team with 12 tackles-for-loss (60 yards) to go with 1.5 sacks, 4 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, one quarterback hurry and an interception … led the team with 11 tackles (7 solos, 4 assists) and a fumble recovery in BC's win over Michigan State in the Champs Sports Bowl … had seven stops (four solo) against Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship … recorded seven tackles (five solo), two TFL resulting in 14 yards lost and assisting on a sack in final regular-season win over Miami at home … also recorded his third career forced fumble of the season … tied for second on the team with seven tackles (five solo) in defensive outing that kept Clemson to 273 total yards, sealing a thrilling win and a bid to BC's first ACC Championship … also recorded his first sack of the season and two TFL for 15 yards … had five total tackles (four solo) and his eighth TFL of the season for five yards in game at Maryland.

Tied his season-high with two TFL and registered a total of six tackles (four solo) in loss against Florida State … also recorded his second pass breakup of the season … had 11 total tackles with a career-high seven assists, ranking second on the team in the strong defensive effort that kept the team within striking distance for its historic comeback at Virginia Tech … also had his first career fumble recovery … led team in total tackles with seven (two solo, five assists) at Notre Dame … had two solo tackles in sound defensive team effort against Bowling Green … was the team's second leading tackler with 4.5 tackles (three solo), including a TFL in win over Massachusetts … put together an exceptional performance in game against Army … had his first interception of the season (second on his career) and a pass breakup … recorded five solo tackles and two assists in the game … also had his fourth tackle for loss on the season, a team high … compiled a total of 3.5 tackles (one solo, five assists) in win over Georgia Tech … had a solid outing vs. NC State, ranking second on the team with 4.5 tackles, including four solo … had a TFL for 11 yards, forced a fumble and recorded a pass breakup … started the season opener vs. Wake Forest and had an outstanding game … had 10 tackles (6 solos) on the day, including two TFL for five yards.

2006 Season

Named to College Football News Freshman All-America team (honorable mention) … played in all 13 games as a true freshman; started vs. Buffalo and at Miami … finished the season with 42 tackles (32 solo), including 5.0 tackles for loss and 1.0 sacks; had one interception and forced two fumbles … had a career-high 14 tackles (11 solo) including 1.0 tackle for loss and forced one fumble against Buffalo … had six tackles (four solo) including 1.0 TFL, made one interception and returned a kickoff for 26 yards against Maine … had one tackle in collegiate debut against Central Michigan … recorded two tackles (two solo) at North Carolina State … made three tackles (two solo) and recorded a pass breakup against Virginia Tech … made one solo tackle in win at Florida State … had one solo stop at Wake Forest … made one solo tackle against Duke … had two solo tackles, including 1.0 tackle for loss against Maryland … made six stops (five solo), including 1.0 tackle for loss and had one pass breakup at Miami … had five tackles (two solo) in the Meineke Car Care Bowl against Navy.

High School

Earned Associated Press Class AAAA All-State first-team honors as senior linebacker at Conestoga High School … gained All-Central League first-team accolades in 2004 and 2005 … was a three-time All-Chester County, All-Suburban and All-Main Line selection … became the first player in school history to win the team MVP award three times … registered a team-high 153 tackles, including 48 solo stops, in 2005; totaled eight tackles for loss, including four sacks … returned a blocked field goal 86 yards for a touchdown … recorded 142 tackles and made four interceptions as a junior … also lined up at fullback in 2003 and 2004; scored three offensive touchdowns … led the Pioneers to back-to-back Central League titles (2004 and 2005) … played for head coach John Vogan … also starred as an attackman on Conestoga's lacrosse team.

Personal

Sandon Mark Herzlich, Jr., born September 1, 1987 … enrolled in the Carroll School of Management … Mark and his younger brother Bradley are the sons of Barbara and Sandon Herzlich, Sr.

 
Latest News
04/04/2011 - Top linebacker prospects: 13. Mark Herzlich, Boston College, 6-4, 244, 4-5 Herlich's well-known story is one of extreme adversity and perseverance. After posting 13 tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two touchdowns off of his six interceptions in 2008, Herzlich decided to stay at Boston College because he was enjoying the college experience. He was considered the top senior prospect in the country when he decided to have doctors look into a pain in his left leg. Then came the shocking diagnosis of Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. After seven months of chemotherapy and an additional five weeks of radiation, Herzlich was cancer-free and determined to play football again -- with a titanium rod in his leg. His play improved as 2010 wore on and Herzlich's big-play flair was evident with four picks. An all-out player on every snap, Herzlich is always around the ball and is an excellent open-field tackler. But a lack of elite athleticism and the battery of medical tests he has undergone will affect his draft status. - Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange

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