NFL Draft Coverage: Mayock Conference Call
Alex Dunlap, Rosterwatch.com
I participated in the NFL Combine Media Conference Call with Mike Mayock this afternoon, and here are some notes from the event:
Positions of strength in the 2012 Draft- DT really strong- not big on DE, Lot of question marks after the first 4. Lots of BIG WRs with things to prove. 3 corners are 1st rounders, after that- pick your flavors.
Whitney Mercilus– can he play a 4-3 or a 3-4? This is what he’ll need to show teams to get into 1st roundNatural pass rusher. No official measurements, underclassmen. Arm length, etc. From tape- one year wonder. Where was he before? Not stout at point of attack. Late 1st to mid-2nd-type guy. Not a lot of good DE and OLBs in this draft.
Patriots– Belichick a master at letting board come to him. Belichick won’t know what he’s specifically interested in until a week before the draft. Gotta be all about defense. This is a pass first league- lots of teams including Patriots that have a track meet each week. CB or S? best player at those slots b/c you need help everywhere.
Ravens- replacing Matt Birk or Ray Lewis bigger priortiy? Interior O Line- FA issues creeping up as well. Interior OL one of strongest positions in this draft, lots of flexibility through the first 3 rounds.
Lions– Great job in recent drafts. HC/GM marriage phenomenal. Offense- not too dissimilar from Saints. QB, WR matchup w/ Saints. Two TEs who can play. RB situation is different, but comparable. Need LT. Backus is older. Protect the QB that’s where you start on offense, but think they need Defense now. CB and LB are needs. Feel pretty good about front 4 especially if you can re-sign Cliff Avril.
Pats Offensive needs– WR. Welker had career year, TE exceptional. Give Pats credit for crafting that. But they’re based in the middle of the field not vertically, need a vertical WR.
Matt Flynn or Robert Griffin for Browns? Mixed history of high paid backups moving on- one side Hasselbeck, Favre went on to be good. Since then guys like Kolb, Cassell- don’t have enough film on Flynn. Over a season of tape- how effective is easy? RG3 most gifted athlete we’ve seen in many drafts. Probably have the opportunity to get him if you want him. That’s exciting. There’s risk involved in both sides. As an organization, you have to decide what you want to be.
Andrew Luck- what would constitute a successful combine?– don’t know if he’ll throw. Most of the agents are still able to convince the top level QBs that they don’t wanna throw to other WRS they don’t know will be running the practiced, scripted routes. That’s why you give Cam Newton credit last year. Think Luck won’t throw. Will see an athletic kid. Good Footwork, probably 4.7- will win battle of the board rooms. Will process and assimilate info from those teams, spit it back. Very impressive.
Best QB after Luck and Griffin- any franchise QBs? After last year- (Ponder Locker first 12 picks). Same thing could happen with Ryan Tannehill. Size, Arm, good athlete- look at his WR tape where he played to start college. Big Strong fast- waits for routes, lacks anticipation, throws late into coverage- makes mistakes. Not unusual for college QBs and he doesn’t have as long a history of starting assignments. After that- Weeden. 2 negatives- age is 28. Struggles when he has to reset in the pocket. Needs to speed up the entire process in the pocket. If a team needs a QB now, could go late 1.
Rams- Cant trade scenario: Blackmon or Kalil? Kalil could be all pro LT, Lacks core strength he will have in 3-4 years. But does what NFL demands out of LTs will be great pass protector. Look at Blackmon like a Fitzgerald. Will not run good 40- 4.5 will not wow you with vertical speed but physicality and hands are out of this world.
Eagles- Lots of talk of Luke Kuechly in first round? Best ILB in draft- By FAR. Natural 3 year JR. never been hurt. Clean off the field, intelligent, great instincts- better athlete than most think. Every once in a while will get enveloped by a big body- think of Sean Lee- best comparison. Smarts with none of the knee issues and slightly better athlete.
Vontaze Burfict- any way he gets taken in first round? –Lots of penalties. If you forget all that stuff- I still came away unimpressed. If he gets a chance at a blow up hit- he’ll take it and look REALLY good, however the major percentage of the time, his instincts aren’t good. Nowhere near as good as point of attack as you would think. Don’t see first round at all.
Bengals at picks 17 & 21? – Bengals had 4 players under age 25 in the Pro Bowl. Great young pieces to build around in the defense. Would love to see a CB who can compete from Day 1. Richardson unlikely to be there. Do not see another 1st round RB. O-line needs continued upgrades. Do not have to reach as far position-wise as they used to. They are in a better position to draft value.
Ronnell Lewis– up/down college career and lingering injury concerns. Intriguing. Need to check out size, little bit of a tweener. Cant deny his movement skills and ability to rush the QB. That’s how you make a living in the NFL. Questions about durability, but was forced to play out of position in college- played a 5-tech against Baylor. Think he will stand up in NFL but he’s listed as DE. Will likely end up as OLB. Will be interesting to see him in conversion drills.
Chase Minnifield– Good bloodline, athletic, 2nd round grade. David Wilson- interesting. Some poeople think he can be first round pick. Really quick, great feet balance. Downhill one-cut guy which is atypical for his size. Likes his burst acceleration, balance- 2nd round guy. Compared him to Lamar Miller. Very similar.
Redskins– what questions can RG3 answer at the combine? NO one answers all questions. This is a process. 1) will he throw? All he sees on tape – love everything- the question I have is- he doesn’t throw with anticipation. Doesn’t have to in that Baylor offense. Tough, takes hits, does not anticipate. Wait til the plays develop then throws them. Likes his vision downfield, unexpectedly. He initially looks to get the ball down the field. Conscious of the fact he can make big plays with his arms and his legs.
Alshon Jeffery– not in Mayock’s top 4 Justin Blackmon, Kendall Wright, Michael Floyd, Rueben Randle all 1st round guys— just like Sanu, Fuller, big bodied-guys- what they run is important. Alshon comes in at 220? That’s good. He has got to run well at the combine or at pro day.
(Editors Note: Alshon will not come in at 220. He looks good but not that good. He is a 235 pound guy maybe 230 at the lowest when in his best shape.)
Nick Perry– #5 DE- up and down year. He’s gonna test really well, a guy who the combine and pro day helps because he is an athletic freak. Lack of consistency will hurt him but the tests will help.
49ers pick 30?– Rueben Randle will run well. 6-4 209. Will run well…I have him bottom half of 1st round. Alshon Jeffery, M Sanu – neither with first round grades.
Devon Still– Combine matters for DTs- see the dancing bears without their pads on. Their ability to bend and their explosion and quickness are key. Cone Drills, etc are exceptionally helpful watching linemen. This is the deepest position in this year’s draft. After seeing Brockers, Poe, Worthy, he has them ahead of Still. First round grades on 5-7 DTs who will not all go in first round.
Who needs the combine to up their stock? LaMichael James- underclassmen seen in one style of offense- want to see movement skills. He will be exceptional in the 40. Could have a WOW performace. Michael Floyd- cleaned up on and off the field. Didn’t play Senior Bowl so he needs to run well. Alshon Jeffrey, Mohammed Sanu and Jeff Fuller need big combines. All those big bodied guys who can’t separate. No first round TEs, one could step up. If Kuechly runs a 4.7 – Top 15 pick. 4.8 or worse, that’s a problem. Leonard Johnson plays better than he will time. Trumaine Johnson= long physical corner- reminds you of Malcolm Jenkins.
Lions– Jonathan Martin or Adams logical 1st round choices. Jonathan Martin protypical left tackle. Lot of things about Kalil you could see in him. Mike Adams really helped himself at the senior bowl. Had 2nd round grades prior.
Devier Posey/Boom Herron– Ohio State Scandal not a big deal. Hot button issues are abuse (especially towards women) and drug use. This was not a red flag type of issue. Posey is a mid round WR, nothing elite. Boom Herron does a lot of things pretty well, but not great. Another mid-round guy.
Trent Richardson– The last guy since was Peterson who looked as NFL-ready. Can come right in and contribute. Is he a good fit for the Browns? Absolutely. If you stand pat with Colt, yea. If you move up to RG3 we change the conversation a little.
Riley Reiff– started as 1st OT now 2nd. When Juniors come out, he has not seen tape of them, so the rankings will change. Starting LT in the NFL, but his upside is less than Kalil. From a talent perspective, doesn’t think Reiff should be top ten pick. Solid, good technician. Iowa’s O-Line is always very well-coached. Better player coming out than Green Bay’s Bulaga who came right out and started.
Rams trading first pick? What could it bring back? Browns have 4&22 – The Rams would be ecstatic to get that deal done. They could be asking for more, but you’ll either get the WR or the LT at 4 anyway plus you get 22nd overall.
RG3 to Browns?– gotta look at Free Agent prospects also. Looking to move to 2 and 3 if you move to 2, you worry about the Redskins moving to 2 and snatching Griffin. As much as I like McCoy- I think they need to upgrade the position. More tape I watch, the more I get to like him. Takes a lot of hits, doesn’t bother him. Could be a real ride for the Browns, but bottom line is that he is a playmaker.
Falcons 2nd round pick? OL DL need to be priorities there. I also see TE as a need. Don’t see any 1st round TEs, will be interesting to see how they come off the board in the 2nd. None of top 3 TEs in draft are in line blockers. ATL’s biggest problem now is protecting Matt Ryan, so that is not a great sign.
Panthers 8 or 9 spot- CB or DT? Where is most bang for the buck? Depends who is off the board. I think the first 7 or 8 picks pretty solid, after that there are some questions. Assuming Claiborne is gone- Brockers is really logical there. You’ll only get #2 or #3 CB there, but can get #1 DT. Might be too high to pick. At 8 or 9 gotta get best player on the board.
Eagles– could you get better value at DT at 15 than you could in an LB? Typically yea- if both are equally ranked, you probably want to go DT first but Eagles have struggled at ILB badly and Kuechly is a special player who starts day one. There could be explosive defensive tackles sitting there and you still might wanna look at Kuechly.
Brandon Weeden in the second round to Chiefs? Really accurate when he sets his feet. Timing/Rhythm guy. Accuracy is tied to those things. When he has to hurry, rest, hasten process- loses accuracy and he’s not nifty in the pocket. That takes development. He’s 28. Do you have time to wait? He could play this year and develop. Much more developed and better than Chris Weinke who is constantly compared to.
Dolphins should target a RT or “hand in dirt” 4-3 rusher with first round pick?– hard to take RT at that spot. Maybe Reiff. If you look in 2nd round- Bobby Massie, Cordy Glenn, etc. as for DE’s he doesn’t like them. He’s not a Coples guy- he will be there in that slot in a lot of mocks- looks the part, looks like Peppers. I would be scared to death there- did not play well or hard as a Senior. If you gotta push there, he would go with Melvin Ingram because he can line up anywhere. Likes Vinny Curry from Marshall a lot if going into 2nd round.
Cowboys– Super Bowl front 7 – need help in DBs.
Mike Martin– He’s active. I don’t think he’s just a 3-4 guy. Can play 3-tech. Really good positional class at DT. Middle round DT, in-shape DT, plays with leverage.
Darius Fleming- Notre Dame– surprised he is not higher rated. Once teams put the tape on they say WOW. Problem is he is a tweener. Cannot be a 4-3 DE, cannot play inside standing up in 3-4, but it is good that teams are asking these questions- means they are looking for a spot for him. Very draftable. Will look better than people think at the combine.
Kellen Moore– gotta figure him out. Looks like he’s 11 year old. Better anticipation and throwing his receivers open than any player in draft. Hes a winner, and will not get drafted high.
Chris Rainey– could run 4.25- but where where do you line him up? How do you evaluate him? What is your plan as an organization? The team will value him based on number of snaps that he will get.
Kirk Cousins– doesn’t do anything great, but does everything pretty well. Worried he does not throw as well to his left. Could be a great back up or an eventual starter with 3 years development.
Melvin Ingram / Courtney Upshaw comparison:
Upshaw might end up at DE before this thing is over with. Their height/weight at the Senior Bowl was almost identical. Different body types- from the waist down Upshaw is much bigger. Upshaw may be a better eventual fit at 4-3— (WOW!) I have him listed as 3-4 OLB because the base package at Alabama was 3-4 with 4-3 sub package when he had his hand in the dirt.
Ingram butt/leg size more thin throughout- but better movement- played everywhere OLB, nose, 3-tech, 5-tech everywhere. Remind you of Justin Tuck. Natural pass rusher ability you can move around. Almost identical on paper, there are differences in their game.
Eagles– Who’s the best player on board who could slip to 15? Maybe Jerel Worthy, Kuechly- if Desean Jackson is gone- you may have to look at Kendall Wright. Brockers, if he slipped you look at him.
Teams do the best drafting understand the best blend of all the correct characters.
The combine is a cross check against what you have already seen on tape.
Why would the Browns put Robert Griffin in a West Coast system that takes three years to learn? Last year- teams more than ever suited offenses to what rookie QB did best. Ponder, Cam Newton, Locker. Etc. Teams gave them chances to make plays in comfortable situations- that has not always been the case. It used to be learn the playbook or don’t play- if Cleveland moves up to get him- they have to make him comfortable. Shurmur, Childress, etc. will need to change what they do in order to make it work.