His nickname is "Mack Truck," but Ravens rookie defensive tackle Daylon Mack doesn't drive one.
"No, I actually drive a Malibu, a little car," Mack said, drawing laughter from reporters during rookie minicamp.
The image of the 6-foot-1, 336-pound Mack climbing into a Malibu feels like a scene from a sitcom. But Mack is intently serious about making an impact with the Ravens, despite defensive tackle being one of the team's deeper positions. Joining a defensive line that includes Pro Bowl tackle Brandon Williams and stout run-stopper Michael Pierce gives Mack a chance to learn from talented veterans while he gets acclimated to the NFL.
"They're really good players, and I'm just excited to see it firsthand what it's like being a dominant defensive player in the NFL," Mack said. "So, I'm very excited to learn from them."
Mack first landed on Baltimore's radar during the East-West Shrine game when he was coached by Ravens Assistant Defensive Line/Outside Linebackers Coach Drew Wilkins.
"After the first practice, he was like, 'Hey, I called our people and said, 'That guy plays like a Raven!','' Mack said. "We're going to make him a Raven.''
That's exactly what happened when the Ravens selected Mack in the fifth round. The Ravens like Mack's explosiveness at the snap and penchant for tackling runners for negative yardage. They also see his potential as an interior pass rusher, after his career-high 5 ½ sacks last season at Texas A&M. Mack only had 2 ½ sacks during his previous three seasons, but he blossomed when Jimbo Fisher took over as the Aggies' head coach before Mack's senior year.
"They showed me film of how I was playing in high school," Mack said. "They just showed me they wanted me to get back to being that player. I changed my number to 34 (his high school number). It was part of the mentality change."
The perseverance that Mack showed during his first three seasons at Texas A&M bodes well for his future. At the beginning of Mack's college career, he wasn’t playing as much as he hoped and when he saw action he didn’t play consistently. Mack admitted he was hurt by some of the comments he saw about is play on social media. But instead of transferring, Mack learned to block out the critics and it helped him become a better player.
At rookie minicamp, Mack enjoyed working with Ravens Defensive Line Coach Joe Cullen, one of the more animated coaches on staff. Mack thinks the Ravens' staff will have the same positive influence on him that Fisher's staff had at Texas A&M.
"The way Coach Cullen was coaching, I feel like I could become a really successful football player learning from the things that he can teach me," Mack said.
The Ravens lost plenty of familiar faces on defense this offseason, most notably outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith, and safety Eric Weddle. Even with the addition of veteran safety Earl Thomas, the Ravens' defensive unit will have a different feel to it, with younger players being asked to assume larger roles.
With their defensive line depth, the Ravens may not need Mack to have an immediate impact, but if he's ready, he could join the defensive line rotation as a rookie. When Mack was in high school, the public address announcer would blare a truck horn on the loudspeaker whenever Mack had a tackle for loss. Mack dreams of moments like that with the Ravens. And since he has agreed to contract terms, will "Mack Truck" purchase a truck?
"I'll probably get one when I get settled down," Mack said.