NFL Network's Mike Mayock held a lengthy conference call on Monday afternoon as part of a preview of the NFL Combine. Mayock fielded a ton of questions about the 2013 NFL Draft and this year's class of players, and a transcript has been assembled by the NFL to recap the call. It's nearly 22,000 words long, so a word of advice: If you want to see his thoughts on the Detroit Lions or a certain player, hit Ctrl+F and do a search of the transcript. That's probably the most efficient way to find what you're looking for.
Q. Mike, I'd like to ask you if there is any pass‑rushing depth at the defensive end position around 30 where the Falcons will be picking. A lot of folks think tight end, but wanted to check on the D‑end talent, the late first round, early second round?
MAYOCK: Yeah, I have a little different opinion than what I'm hearing a lot of people have on these quote 4-3 defensive ends. I'm not as high on these guys as some people are.
For instance, I don't think Bjoern Werner or Damontre Moore are top 10 players. They might go in the top 10, but I don't see it that way. As you start dropping down later, what happens is Ezekiel "Zeke" Ansah from BYU, he's got as much upside as anybody in this draft. I don't think he gets to [pick number] 30. Sam Montgomery, the defensive end from LSU is a guy that could be there.
And Barkevious Mingo gets a lot more of the attention, but I feel like Sam Montgomery brings it every snap more than Mingo does. He's not as quick, he's not as gifted, but he's very physical and tough.
A couple other names to keep an eye on, whether it's the first round or a little later after that. Tank Carradine, the quote "other" defensive end at Florida State who had a medical issue, he probably had first‑round talent. He's probably going to go in the second or third round, and somebody's going to get a steal with this kid because of his natural upside.
Alex Okafor from Texas is a second or third=round guy. But sitting there at 30, that's a tough place, because I think Werner, Moore and Ansah, are going to be gone, and you start to get into Sam Montgomery and some of these other guys.
Q. I'm kind of looking at the Bills situation there at 8. And, obviously, you already mentioned the quarterback hole that shifts exists in the class. Linebacker is probably their biggest need on the defensive side. Is that just a better fit there at 8 if they're sitting there to go linebacker at that point?
MAYOCK: Let me make it quick, and I think this is germane to an entire discussion about the quarterbacks. I'm a big believer in value. If you have a top 10 pick, you want an all‑pro at some point. If you look at a Geno Smith, he could be a top 10 pick in some people's eyes. Now for me, he and Matt Barkley to me are more like 20 to 32. That's where I feel more comfortable.
However, the point I'd like to make is with the rookie wage scale, it's a lot less expensive to take a flier on a top 10 quarterback than it used to be. And if you make a mistake on a JaMarcus Russell and it costs you $50 million, you have a problem. If you make a mistake on a kid today at No. 8 and it costs you $20 million, it's a little different.
So even though I don't subscribe to that, there are going to be people that say Buffalo should take a quarterback at 8, regardless of what the quote value is. With Geno Smith, I see flashes of everything you want in a top 10 quarterback. I see a lot more inconsistency though than I see those flashes.
So he, to me, there is a real risk‑reward scenario there. So that's kind of a long way of saying that a lot of people are going to be talking about quarterbacks. But if you get into that linebacker discussion at No. 8, there are a bunch of different names that are going to come up.
One of them is going to be a polarizing figure, and that is Alec Ogletree out of Georgia. You want to talk about a kid that's made for the NFL game with an ability to drop and cover, a former safety. He's fun to watch on tape. He flies. He's explosive. He's not great against the run, but, boy, in today's NFL spread offenses, he's a great fit. But given the off‑the‑field issues and the D.U.I. recently he's going to be one of the more intriguing guys to follow throughout the draft.
Q. Mike, I wanted to ask you about the two Wisconsin guys you have real high in your position by position rankings. Montee Ball at running back you have two behind Eddie Lacy, and Travis Frederick, the center from UW you have in the first slot. Could you talk about why you rank them so high, and where you have them going as we speak in the draft?
MAYOCK: At the running back position I only have one guy in the first round, and that is Eddie Lacy. I just happen to like Montee Ball a lot. When I put the tape on, he's a downhill [runner], tough kid. I think he's got really good feet for a fairly large back.
I think he's going to have to do a better job with pass protection. But at 5'11", 215 [pounds], he should be able to do a better job with pass protection. I think he's shown toughness, balance, vision. He's a one‑cut, north‑south runner and I think he fits most of the offenses in the NFL. I see him as a late two to an early three.
As far as Travis Frederick at Wisconsin, the center, he's similar to Barrett Jones a little bit from Alabama, my No. 1 and my number three centers.
I think Frederick goes in the second round, Barrett Jones, second or third rounder. Big, strong kid, gets pushed, smart and tough. The fact that he's a Wisconsin offensive lineman is going to help him. That's a positive thing to be today in today's NFL.
So there are two kids that I really like who they are, and I fully expect that both of them should be off the board by the end of the second round.
Q. I wanted to ask you how early is too early in your mind to take an interior offensive lineman? Do you see someone there, potentially a 10 for the Titans that would make sense for them?
MAYOCK: That's what they need. To be honest with you, there are two beautiful players sitting there. I mean, Chance Warmack from Alabama is the best football player I saw on tape this year. And Jonathan Cooper from North Carolina is just a tiny notch behind him. As a matter of fact, Cooper's probably a better athlete.
So if either of those players are on the board at 10, I'd jump all over them. I could care less about whether or not that's a position of value or not. Remember especially this year, if I had to list a top eight or ten players, they'd probably be offensive linemen or defensive linemen. I'm not seeing some of those impact guys in some of the skill positions.
So I would have no hesitation taking Chance Warmack at 10. And to be honest with you, if I was 1 through 9, I wouldn't have any hesitation of taking him either. So I think they're in a good place to get one of those two players.
Q. Why is broadcasting from the Scouting Combine good television?
MURIANO: I think for the rabid fans and the interest that we've built year to year to year, we're finding that folks are interested in it. If you're asking me personally, why I think a lot of folks tune in is they're still Jonesing for football being two and a half some weeks removed from the final game being played.
And here's a little bit of insight into folks as they start really moving on to the next question, some of which fans of certain teams have already moved on to at the end of December. How is my team going to get better? Who is out there for the taking?
When you throw the expertise of Mike [Mayock] on there, mixed in with all the other folks that we have broadcasting this, I think it's really kind of that turning the page into the, ‘OK, now how is my team getting better?,' whether their season ended two weeks ago with the Lombardi Trophy or ended at the end of week 17.
Q. What do you see the Eagles doing? Obviously, with the new coaching staff, with Chip Kelly, what do you see them doing working with that fourth pick and maybe the early part of the draft? Because there are a lot of different things they could go for. Obviously, they need linebackers, defensive tackle for the 3-4 defense. How is that kind of shaping up in your head?
MAYOCK: It's a good question, and I know everybody in Philadelphia is dying for some answers. But defensively, let's take a step back. This is one of the best safety classes I've seen in years.
I think the Eagles are going to get a chance to get a safety in the second or third round, and that's important. They need a safety badly. They could also use a corner.
I happen to think number four is a little high for Dee Milliner. I really like him. I think he's a heck of a football player and I think he'd be safe. But I don't think he's that explosive 4.35 kind of 40 [yard dash] guy. If they took him, I'd be OK with that because he's a solid football player, but I think it's a little high for him.
So then you start going, OK, where's the value at four? And my whole premise is less about having to plug a particular position and more about making sure I get an All-Pro if I'm picking in the top 10.
So you've got to decide with your offensive line how comfortable you are with all those guys coming back from injury, and I think there are some questions there. So you've got to look at the top offensive lineman in this draft. I don't care if it's outside or Chance Warmack inside, you better be looking at those two guys.
Then finally, if you're looking at 3‑4 outside linebacker guy, most people are all over Damontre Moore either at the 4-3 end or a 3‑4 outside linebacker.
I kind of like Dion Jordan who I think is two years away from being an Aldon Smith‑type player. He's only about 240 pounds, but he's 6'7". He's got frightening athletic skills, and he's a year away. He would be a situational pass‑rusher year one, and if he puts 20 pounds on, I think he's going to be a perennial All-Pro. I really like the kid. But, again, that's a little bit of a risk‑reward. You're betting on this kid two years from now.
That's why I wouldn't want a top 10 pick this year. I think the fifth pick in the draft and the 25th pick in this draft are very similar.
Q. The quarterback situation, too, you don't see the Eagles taking a shot at a quarterback in the top 10?
MAYOCK: No. I don't see that at all. They signed Dennis Dixon. They've now got three quarterbacks, and I think Chip Kelly's going to be pretty smart with how he handles that thing. I think it's too early to be taking a quarterback given the fact that they've got three there right now.
Q. Calling from Miami where the Dolphins have a whole bunch of needs, and wondering where you think 12 might fit in. Do you think they can get an impact guy at that position? I see you have Cordarrelle Patterson as a receiver. Is that a fit at 12 or is that a stretch?
MAYOCK: It's certainly not a stretch from a talent perspective. From a height, width, speed, talent perspective, he might be one of the most talented physical specimens in this class.
I think he's taking your breath away from the ability to make plays especially after he gets the ball in his hands. He's a special talent.
The problem is he's got one year of Division 1 experience after two years at a [junior college]. That's a red flag for me, especially at the wide receiver position. There are a bunch of those guys that have failed over the past 20 years.
So you've got to do your homework on him off the field, work ethic, all those kinds of things, because talent‑wise, he fits.
Keenan Allen, I think, is a later first‑round pick. And the Dolphins need a wide receiver, but they also need a vertical threat, and I don't think he's a 4.4 [40-yard dash] guy. We'll find out this weekend. Here's the deal with Keenan Allen: if you like him on tape, he's Anquan Boldin. If you don't like him, he's speed deficient. So I look at the wide receiver class, they're the two possibilities at 12. If you can buy into Patterson, that's a risk‑reward scenario.
Then the other thing is offensive line. You don't know about your left tackle. All I know is you better start supporting that young quarterback, and the best way to do it is either at wideout or O‑line.
I think the O‑line options are going to be a heck of a lot safer than the wide receiver options at 12.
Q. Looking at the 49ers, it would seem they could use a little depth on the defensive line, maybe a future replacement for Justin Smith somewhere, and then also maybe a speed guy opposite Michael Crabtree. I don't know if you agree with that assessment. But, if so, with maybe four picks in the first three rounds, who do you see as maybe some potential guys for them to target?
MAYOCK: Yeah, I think the wide receiver thing is interesting, and I kind of agree with you. That they could use another playmaker there. And if Keenan Allen was there, I'd be really interested in him at 31. I think Terrance Williams from Baylor is a big height, weight, speed guy that can run. He's interesting at 31.
Obviously, you picked one in the first round last year that barely got on the field [in A.J. Jenkins]. So part of this conversation is going to be how Jim Harbaugh and the staff feel about that kid, and his potential development next year, whether or not you go out and spend another one on a wideout.
As far as the defensive line are concerned, I agree with you. There are some really good kind of nose tackle, five‑technique guys out there right now. If San Francisco has a couple aging guys at that position, though they're really good players.
So when you start getting down toward the end of the first round at that five technique, Datone Jones from UCLA is a late one to a mid‑two. Margus Hunt from SMU, you might get him in the second round. But he's a big, impressive kid that I think down the road will be a heck of a player. They're the logical guys.
And William Gholston in the second or third round also from Michigan State in that 3‑4 to play defensive end.
Q. I was wondering on Justin Hunter from Tennessee. I noticed I don't think you have him as a first round pick in your mind. If not, do you think he has the potential to have the kind of Combine workout that could possibly boost him that high?
MAYOCK: He's one of those guys that's probably going to run fast. He's probably from a height, weight, speed per perspective going to flash at the Combine, open some eyes. I watched a lot of tape of him. I think he's raw and a developmental guy. For me, that's not a first round guy.
Now he's got the tools, and in two years from now he might be special. But for me right now I've got him in the second round. I've got him about my eighth wide receiver on my board and a second round pick.
Q. Colts at 24. When you look at your board, this is a team that needs a lot: offensive line, cornerback, pass‑rusher. What brings the most value? Can you get a good tackle there or is it more defensive line, cornerback area?
MAYOCK: I keep kind of banging on the table that the quality of this first round, I think, is going to be. I've got six offensive tackles with first round grades. I've got six defensive tackles with first round grades. I only have one corner with a first‑round grades, and I only have, really, two wide receivers with a first‑round grades.
So when you start talking about where the strength of this is, and you could also look at those 3‑4 outside linebackers, because there are some intriguing guys there.
So from my perspective, when you get the 24 [pick], yeah, you're looking at some of the later offensive tackles. From my perspective, Lane Johnson from Oklahoma, boy, did he have a great Senior Bowl, loved him. D.J. Fluker from Alabama, he very well could be there; he's a right tackle only, but I think he's going to be special down the road. And Justin Pugh from Syracuse. Those are offensive tackles that could be available at 24.
The corner thing is going to depend on who runs fast. Let's assume [Dee] Milliner's gone, I think Indy would love to have a corner like Johnthan Banks. But he's going to have to run fast to go in the first round.
I think the questions on most of the corners after Milliner are about pure speed. So Johnthan Banks, for me, is a guy that could be logical there.
Then any of those outside linebackers. I don't know if any of them are going to slide. I already talked about Dion Jordan. I don't know how far he's going to slide, but I think he'll be a phenomenal outside linebacker and a 3-4.
Barkevious Mingo, I have him at the end of the first round. Lot of people have him in the top 10; I have him at the end of the first round. So he's a guy that could sit also from what you're talking about.
Q. I wanted to ask you about a guy like Marcus Lattimore. What do you think of him overall, and what can he accomplish this week considering the fact that he won't be working out? Can he go up or down much based on interviews and talking to folks?
MAYOCK: Yeah, it's important for him. I think he goes somewhere in the third round. And that's, you know, if he was a late‑one to a mid‑two [when] healthy, then I think a third round is fair for him because you're probably going to get your most production starting two years out.
Q. The last two years with guys like Philip Lutzenkirchen, and Onterio McCalebb aren't able to sustain that level of success. As far as on‑field success, how much does that translate into their draft stock?
MAYOCK: In all honesty, I remember being at the Auburn Pro Day Cam Newton's year, and at the Alabama Pro Day, the day before or date after, I forget which, but they were back‑to‑back days. And the difference in talent ‑‑ and remember now, that was the year [Auburn] beat Alabama and came back in the second half to beat them and won the national championship - Alabama had a lot more talent. Auburn had Cam Newton, and they rode him in the second half to a win.
There was not a whole lot of talent running around on that National Championship team. There really wasn't.
Alabama's talent dwarfs them, and I'm talking about from a two‑deep perspective on offense and defense. So it doesn't surprise me that we're not seeing all of those names at a high level right now.
Now, [Corey] Lemonier is an interesting prospect. I think his best football was probably his sophomore year and maybe a little bit at the beginning of this year. Everybody knows he's talented, but he hasn't played up to what he should play at. But he's a talented kid. He's probably still a second‑ or third‑round kid.
The tight end, Lutzenkirchen, I like him a lot. I think he's solid. And McCalebb is going to run fast. That's what he does. He's going to add real value and run really fast at the combine and get people pumped up. But he's probably a fourth‑ or fifth‑round pick because that's kind of where those guys go.
Q. I cover Mississippi State, and you talked about Johnthan Banks. Where do you have him going, and how important is he in getting his speed up at the combine and helping him prove some things and locking up that first‑round grade. Also is there anybody else from Mississippi State being on the fringe being a day two or day three guy?
MAYOCK: I tell you what's interesting, I like that other corner too, Darius Slay. I put the tape on to watch Banks who plays in the boundary for the most part, and my eye kept going to the other kid, and I liked him a lot. I think [Slay is] a guy that's a third‑ our fourth‑round player. And I think he's opened some eyes.
As far as Banks is concerned, people like his length. He's got some press ability. He's long. I think he's one of the guys who is a Combine critical four. Corners and wideouts are the two most critical "speed positions" and all the teams are waiting to see what guys run.
I made the statement earlier, after [Dee] Milliner, I don't have a certified first‑round corner. And I think coming out of this Combine, I will.
I need to see if [Xavier] Rhodes, [Johnthan] Banks, [Desmond] Trufant, any of those guys run well. Banks is the one that runs sub‑4.5, I think he locks up a first round. If he runs 4.55, or 4.58, he's not going there. So for Banks it's a critical, critical weekend.
Q. I cover the Redskins here in Washington. I'm looking at your positional rankings. Just wondering if you could extrapolate your top 5 free safeties sort of with an eye towards who might be available for the Redskins at 51?
MAYOCK: I'm a big believer [Kenny] Vaccaro is going to be gone in the top 20. I think Matt Elam is kind of a late one to mid‑two, and I think Johnathan Cyprien from Florida International is a guy you ought to be looking really closely at. He had a great Senior Bowl week. I've got him as my number three safety. I think he's a guy that's going to be around somewhere in that middle to end of the second round. I think he could start immediately for the Washington Redskins, and he makes a ton of sense.
So I think the guy you ought to be looking at is Cyprien as a guy that could be available and there is a dropoff after him. He can play both, but I like him at three.
Q. Could you comment on Ziggy Ansah, and do you see him projecting as a 3-4 outside linebacker?
MAYOCK: That's a good question. I couldn't wait to see him at the Senior Bowl. I thought he had an average week of practice, and in the one‑on‑one pass‑rushing drills, defense should dominate and he didn't dominate.
He was a guy that was so long, so athletic, so gifted. I just think he's so raw sometime it's can't come out. I don't think there is anybody on the in the NFL that doesn't think he's going to be a good player. But the question is when? Is it this year, next year or three years from now?
And really what you're determining and building the answer of that question is going to determine what you think the value of the kid is. How quickly can he become a really good player? Can he be Aldon Smith this year? Because he's got those kind of skills. It just has to come out of him.
Now can he play 3‑4 outside linebacker? He's so gifted, some teams are looking at him as a 3‑4 outside linebacker while other teams are saying with that frame, he could be 290 [pounds] and be a 3‑4 defensive end.
So it's kind of interesting. Teams are looking at him a 4‑3 end, a 3‑4 outside linebacker, and a 3‑4 end. You can't say that about many kids and it goes to his unbelievable athletic ability and huge frame.
I'm willing to bet on the kid. I think he's going to go earlier than later. When you get these kind of guys, and [Jason Pierre-Paul], he's way more raw than JPP was a couple years ago. People want to use that comparison, but he's not there yet. But I think he's going to become a good player.
Q. Vikings have some need at receiver, and that first round pick may be a target to grab one. If you're being realistic of who may be available at 23 and the guy that can be the most stand out, what would be your thought there's?
MAYOCK: I don't think [Cordarrelle] Patterson's going to be there. I think he's too much of a height‑width speed freak. Keenan Allen is the guy that, if he was there, I think they'd feel very comfortable. He's really tough, catches the football, gets off press. I think it was his brother throwing the football which was difficult for this kid. His numbers could have been better.
So where the Vikings are picking, I think that kid's a heck of a value. I like him there Keenan Allen. If he's not there, then you've got to look at a couple of different guys.
Terrance Williams from Baylor. I don't know if they look at Tavon Austin or not. Tavon Austin is a play maker. People want to make the comparison to Percy Harvin. He's 20 pounds lighter than Percy Harvin. To me, he's more like could he be a Wes Welker and a tremendous return guy? I think that's more what the Tavon Austin question is.
I don't think there is any real value beyond that. Quinton Patton, Robert Woods, [DeAndre] Hopkins, [Justin] Hunter, I think they're down the line. I don't think you can pick them where the Vikings are. I think it's really those four guys.
Q. You saw the Seahawks a couple times this is year, and Pete Carroll says he wants to get some pass‑rush help, whether it be from the D tackle or the end spot. I'm wondering if you see anybody that might be a good fit at 25 for them there?
MAYOCK: Pete [Carroll] loves those big guys that can run. You start talking about especially when I look at their depth chart and just mentally go through it. Brandon Mebane is good against the run, and Alan Branch is an unrestricted free agent, and Bruce Irvin, obviously, was drafted in the first round as an outside‑edge guy.
But I'd love to see him get somebody inside that can push the pocket with some kind of pass‑rush ability. So sitting where they are I've got six guys, six defensive tackles with first round grades. I think Sharrif Floyd, Star Lotulelei, and Sheldon Richardson are going to be gone by then. By the way, I think Sharrif Floyd is a top 5 pick, or he should be, the kid from Florida.
Anyway, Sylvester Williams from North Carolina, Kawann Short from Purdue, and Johnathan Hankins from Ohio State, those three guys all offer at 30 pounds, an ability to push the pocket with power, and also have some quickness and finesse and gain in edge. So they're three guys that make a lot of sense for them.
Q. The Ravens are picking in the first round. What do you think would be intriguing to them with their needs in the first round if they were to stay there?
MAYOCK: I think the trouble that the two inside linebackers have had could ultimately help the Ravens. To me, Manti Te'o should come off the board plus or minus 20. He could drop a little bit if people aren't buying into him like they used to. And then [Alec] Ogletree is potentially a top 10 player who has had significant issues.
If either one of those players slid to Baltimore, I think they'd sprint to the podium.
Q. I cover Clemson. DeAndre Hopkins, the wide receiver, how much did the win over LSU and the Chick‑fil‑A Bowl help his stock? Where do you see him kind of sitting late first round, early second round guy? What are his best assets and are there any other Clemson players like Andre Ellington that you kind of see being a second‑day guy other than Hopkins?
MAYOCK: Yeah, Hopkins, to me, is intriguing, very smooth, good hands. I've got him as a mid to late second‑round player. And you're right, his bowl game I watched, it was fun. He made an awful lot of plays and he's good with the ball in his hands after the catch.
The guy that really caught my eye and I didn't expect to like him as much as I do is Andre Ellington. One of the reasons I like him is because at 195 pounds, he might be the best effort pass protection running back in the draft which really surprised me.
He squares people up, get after them, and typically you don't see that from those 195 pounds, change‑of‑pace kind of back. So, Ellington, I've got him number three on my board at running back. I've got him higher than most people. Most people think he's a third rounder. I like him in the second round, and Malliciah Goodman is another guy you could see somewhere in that fourth or fifth round. He's got some length and upside to him.
Q. What about Dalton Freeman? Is he a draftable guy in your opinion?
MAYOCK: Late draftable, undersized, quick, zone center. He'll make a team next year.
Q. Forgetting about the traditional needs for the Chiefs for a second, how many guys do you think are worthy for consideration for the No. 1 pick right now?
MAYOCK: Four guys: [Chance] Warmack, [Jonathan] Cooper, [Luke] Joeckel, and [Eric] Fisher.
Q. Which direction do you think the Chiefs ought to go in your opinion?
MAYOCK: Well, part of it depends on what they're going to do with free agency and Branden Albert. I think the answer to that, obviously, is going to give you the answer. Sitting where they are, let's face it, they need a quarterback. We don't know that there are a lot of people who think Geno Smith is in that ballpark. I don't, but there are a lot of people that think he should be considered.
When you look at what they're going to do, what are they going to do with Dwayne Bowe? Whoever the quarterback is, they need a wide receiver. And I think [general manager] John Dorsey has to be thinking what is the big picture here? I've got one, and I've got 33. What is the best combination of getting the most value out of that? And I think that offensive lineman at 1 is the most solid guy they can go with.
I don't care whether it's Warmack or Joeckel. People will tell me I'm crazy that a guard can't go No. 1. I think he's the best player in the draft, so I would argue that. But either way, I think they've got to get an offensive lineman and come back at 33 and prepare to go with a quarterback or wide receiver or something. They've got to upgrade that offense, or they might trade back in late one. But I think the tackle is the most obvious guy for day one.
Q. When it comes to the Browns and number six, do you think there is a guy worthy of six? I know you talked about it a little bit earlier, but do you think there is a guy worthy of six for them who would be an upgrade over Brendan Weeden? Or do you think they'd be better served going defense considering they're switching schemes again?
MAYOCK: I think I'd be more comfortable if I'm the Browns at the linebacker position, trying to upgrade that at six, because I think I'd probably get a player worthy of that. Whereas, at quarterback, in my opinion, I'm reaching.
Again, I don't have a quarterback that I think can go before No. 20. Those two quarterbacks Geno Smith and [Matt] Barkley to me are 20 to 32 at best. Bottom third of the first round. So I'm not a proponent of any quarterback at number six for Cleveland.
I think you get the best player you can get, and it's probably going to be one of those defensive ends or outside linebackers.
Q. A little on Keenan Allen and what you think he needs to show at the Combine, and same thing with Stanford's Zach Ertz?
MAYOCK: I think with Keenan Allen, it's one word: speed. That is the only question scouts have on him. It's hard to view him on tape with the way they throw the football. So what is it? If he's a 4.4 guy, bang the table, he's a top 25 pick. If he runs 4.55, 4.58, there are going to be a lot of questions about him.
And I think I said earlier in the call, off tape, if you like him, he's an Anquan Boldin‑type guy. If you don't like him, you're going to say he's speed deficient. So if he runs fast at the Combine, that is one of those positions where speed at the Combine means something, and he can really ‑‑ if he runs in that 4.4 to 4.5 range, 4.48 even, I think he's definitely a first‑round pick.
As far as Zach Ertz there are three guys at the top of this class that are very similar. [Tyler] Eifert, Ertz, and [Gavin] Escobar from San Diego State. All of them are 6'6", plus or minus 250 [pounds]. And it will be interesting to see how the three run against each other, because they're all clumped together by most teams right now.
So my perspective, you watch Ertz, and they move him all over the field. What's he run? Is he a 4.68 guy or a 4.53 guy? And I think the speed will be important for all three of those tight ends.
Q. Expanding on the tight ends a little bit. Zach Ertz or TylerEifert, are either of them good enough all around players that maybe the Dolphins could take them at 12 if they happen to like them? And how important is mobility becoming in the evaluation of quarterbacks at the combine?
MAYOCK: As far as the tight ends are concerned, at number 12, both those kids are talented. Both those kids are what today's tight ends are all about; an ability to move around and do different things. They're both big enough to lineup in line if you asked them to.
Now I thought that Eifert did a better job blocking this year than he did in past years and a little better job than Ertz did who was more of a move guy.
So if you asked me to rank them today, it would be Eifert first, because I could line him up in‑line, even though he's not a stone killer. Trust me, he's not. But he can at least play leverage and block in line. However, both of their strengths are getting down field and catching the football.
The most important thing for the Dolphins is offensive line and finding people to help the young quarterbacks that are play makers.
Q. How important is mobility becoming when you're evaluating the quarterbacks?
MAYOCK: To me, it hasn't changed a whole lot other than obviously, if you get a [Colin] Kaepernick or Russell Wilson who can throw the ball tremendously well from within the pocket and they've got an ability to run some options and do some other things, you get a plus grade on them. A plus‑plus grade.
What's more important outside of that - because those guys are just outstanding and I don't see any of those guys in this year's draft - but what's more important is the mobility within the pocket and an ability to extend the play, and that doesn't really show up in a 40. It shows up a little more in some of the other drills and shows up way more on tape than it does at the Combine.
Q. I wanted to get your take on the three Texas guys who will be at the combine: Kenny Vaccaro, Alex Okafor, and especially Marquise Goodwin who seems to be generating more buzz than he certainly did during the regular season.
MAYOCK: Yeah, and speed kills, right? That's why [Goodwin] is generating buzz. He got to the Senior Bowl and ran by a bunch of corners. Now keep it in perspective. A lot of the corners he was running by were "speed deficient corners."
So I think it's important for Goodwin to continue with the buzz around him by running, and being a track guy, he should run a great time. He just needs to get in there and run that sub‑4.4. Continue the buzz, continue people talking about him. He could be a Mike Wallace, and continue to push that buzz; [Wallace] wasn't anywhere near as productive as what that buzz was generated. That's OK. Mike Wallace had a really good Senior Bowl, and people started buzzing about him, and he's looking for a big payday right now.
Okafor is a solid base 4‑3 end. I don't see him as a first rounder. I see him as a mid to late second‑round pick. He's tough. He's got some natural pass rush ability. He does everything pretty well, but I don't think he does anything elite.
Finally, Vaccaro is the one that more tape I watched, the more I liked him. They played him closer to the line of scrimmage this year. He covered a bunch of slots this year. Watching cover Tavon Austin at West Virginia, that's rare. In today's world, that's rare and it's important.
And I think his coverage ability is quick feet. He's tough as nails. He tackles. He looks to me, I've never met him, but it looks on tape like he loves the game.
I have trouble thinking he's going to get past 15 or 20 even though safeties don't go that high. I think he'll be gone in the first 15 picks.
Q. Do you see any way Alex Okafor could play an outside backer and a 3‑4?
MAYOCK: I like him better with his hands in the dirt going forward. I don't doubt that he probably could play 3‑4 outside linebacker, but I think he's better going forward than he is backwards.
Q. Rams at 16 and 22, probably a lot of directions that they could go. Just wondering what you thought might be good values that their three biggest positions of need at least right now. Wide receiver, strong safety, and offensive tackle?
MAYOCK: I think they're in a really good place at 16 and 22. At 16, if they want an offensive tackle or offensive lineman, they'll get a heck of a player. And I think [Eric] Fisher and [Lane] Joeckel will be gone. So the question is Lane Johnson from Oklahoma there? If he's there, I think he makes a ton of sense.
D.J. Fluker is the next tackle, and I think he will be there at 16. And he may be there at 22, unless there is a run on tackles. When you're talking about the wide receiver position, I've told you about that a little bit.
I think [Cordarrelle] Patterson's probably gone at 16. I think at 22 you'll be looking at would Keenan Allen make sense? After that, I think you're reaching at the wide receiver position.
And I think tight end makes sense also along with outside linebacker. They're at the positions that they've got to be looking at. Would an [Tyler] Eifert, [Zach] Ertz or [Gavin] Escobar make sense at 22? I think they start to come into play at that point.
Q. You kind of blew my mind a little bit when you're talking about the top 10 guys not being a rush defensive end. Who do you see the Lions at 5? They're looking for an impact defensive player. Are they going to be able to find a 5? Would it make more sense for them to move out? Move down?
MAYOCK: I think a lot of teams are going to look to move down, but I'm not sure there are a lot of teams looking to go come up. I think most of the value in this draft is later. So my comment that I'm not so sure the 20th position is much different than the fifth or sixth position this year.
So there are impact players in this draft. You don't need defensive tackles. You need more defensive ends, and that's fine. There are going to be a lot of people that think Damontre Moore is that guy, and Damontre Moore has a lot of talent and might be one of those guys.
I'll give you another name. Jarvis Jones from Georgia. Now that's a good football player. Jarvis Jones is playing in the 4-3, which is what Detroit plays as an outside backer. He is an impact, explosive football player, and he's ready to play now.
Now he had some medical issues, potential stenosis in his back. If he checks out medically, he's a top 10 player, and hopefully an impact player. So he's a guy that could make a whole lot of sense in Detroit.
Q. Can you expand on Eric Fisher a little bit? You said he's one of your top 5 prospects. What do you like about him and why could be he successful in the NFL?
MAYOCK: He was one of my four top offensive line prospects. From my perspective, when I put his first tape on and was able to see him all week at the Senior Bowl, the first thing I thought of was Joe Staley, and I thought he's better than Joe Staley, which says a lot.
At the Senior Bowl, I thought he answered every question. I thought he showed a little more upper body strength than I thought he had. He had great feet. He's long. I think he's that prototype left tackle, and I don't think there is as much difference between him and [Luke] Joeckel as a lot of people think.
I think for me, they're both top 10 picks in this draft. So I think this kid two or three years from now is one of the better ones. They're more like Joe Thomas. They can be a technician and a real good pass defender. Not as big a run guy. Just the prototypical left tackle pass defender. He's solid. He's a really good football player and got better and better as the Senior Bowl went on.
Q. Back to the Lions at 5 for a second between Jarvis Jones and Dion Jordan who you're high on. Would either of those guys be a better fit for the Lions?
MAYOCK: I think they're two different players. I think Jarvis Jones can play that 4‑3 outside linebacker position tomorrow, where Dion Jordan is too small to play the 4‑3 end position. Two years from now at 265 [pounds], he wouldn't be if he puts on 20 pounds, but right now he is.
Q. I cover Alabama, and just wonder if you could touch on just their top prospects, especially on who has the most to gain going into the Combine and who could drop going into the Combine?
MAYOCK: Boy, you know, you guys, as usual, are loaded. Dee Milliner for me is a guy that if he runs fast, he can become a top 10 guy. And most people think he already is. I don't. I love him as a player, love him on tape. I think he's more like the 20th pick in the draft, if I had to put a number on him.
However, if he runs sub‑4.5, I think he's going to be a top 10 pick. I think your right tackle, [D.J.] Fluker, has the longest arms in the draft or one of the longest pair of arms in the draft. He's huge. I'm anxious to see him in some of the drills. He wasn't able to participate in the Senior Bowl, but he's a solid, first round, right tackle to me.
I think your tailback has to look good this week. There's been momentum ever since the national title game late in the year in the SEC Championship game. I think he needs to continue that momentum. He's my only first round running back in this draft.
You've already heard me talk about [Chance] Warmack. He just needs to keep dotting the I and crossing the T's and run fast, work hard, be good in the interview room. He's a top 10 pick for me. Who else do you want to know about?
Q. I haven't heard Jesse Williams talked about much.
MAYOCK: Yeah, I don't have him in that first tier of defensive tackles. I think he is solid but more of a second round guy. I like what I see of him. Your safety, [Robert] Lester, is more of a third day guy. Nico Johnson is somewhere in that as well. Did I miss anybody?
Q. You talked about Barrett Jones being second or third, but what are you high on about him? Where's the knock on him?
MAYOCK: I think he's a smart player that understands angles and leverage. I love the way he plays, because I don't think he's as good an athlete as he shows that he is as a player. He is a better football player than he is an athlete, and I love that.
I think he is going to be a center. That position isn't valued as highly. And I think if he's a mid to late two, that is really for him. He could slide in the first round.
Regardless, I think he's going to be a starting center in the league. If he moved well and ran well, 10‑yard dash and looked good in the drills with his feet, that would help him this week.
Q. With the Eagles switching to a 3‑4 hybrid, given their current personnel, what is a greater need for them, five tackle or nose tackle? If it's a nose, who might be there on the second day that you think would be a good pick for them?
MAYOCK: I have trouble saying that a five-technique should go with the fourth pick in the draft.
I think the five-techniques, you can probably get them later in the draft. So when you start talking about what kind of nose tackle prospects you're looking for, John Jenkins, the 350‑pounder from Georgia, you could get him with the fourth pick in the second round, I believe. That's about where his value is going to come into play.
Brandon Williams, I like him a lot. He's got some upside to him. I think Jenkins and Brandon Williams make a ton of sense even in the second or third round.
Q. Doing something on Collin Klein. Wonder what he's got to do at the end of this week to make an impression, and whether the read option is big guys like him have more of a future moving forward in this league?
MAYOCK: Yeah, he's a kid that I root for. He's a better football player than he is an athlete. He's a good athlete, but he's a better football player than he is a natural thrower of the football. I think the problem for him is going to be he's going to be dinged heavily on his lack of throwing ability. Funky motion, questionable accuracy and arm strength.
He was a better runner than thrower, and I think they showcased his talent beautifully at K‑State. He ran the football, play action, did everything they asked him, and he's the kind of kid I really do root for.
However, at the East‑West game, he struggled throwing the football, and that hurt him. It gave the whole league an opportunity to watch him stand there with five other quarterbacks during the week and say, OK, what is he?
So when you're trying to find Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson, it better start with the fact that if you think he's going to be a starting quarterback in the NFL from a pocket perspective, how well does I throw the football? I don't think Collin Klein throws the football well enough to be the starting quarterback in the league.
Now I do believe there is a place for Collin Klein. You can talk about wildcat, natural home for him. You can talk about a back‑up quarterback and some others. But I don't think he throws the ball well enough to be a starting quarterback, and because of that, I think he's going to slide pretty far down to the last day.
Q. There is a notion you can get running backs late in the draft? At the end of last year, two‑thirds of the starters were first, second or third picks. What is your take on that? Do you think the Steelers need to address a running back in the first three rounds this year?
MAYOCK: I think can you get running backs in the second, third and fourth round. I really do. If you look at the last five years of the draft, and I'm doing this off the top of my head, so I might not be sure, but I think there were 15 running backs taken in the first round of the last five years. About half of them, seven or eight of them, have had major injury issues.
So the first round running back thing is by no means a bang the table, starting, top‑line running back. Now in the second round they've got guys; LeSean McCoy was a a second round running back. There have been a bunch of those guys. I think you can get them through pretty much through two, three and four.
Now the question is when you get dropped into the third and fourth rounds, what you're really getting is one or the other. You're not getting the three‑down back. You're getting the guy that's the third‑down, change‑of‑pace guy, or you're getting that bigger back who really doesn't have to burst in acceleration. What that means is you need two of them.
But I do believe you can get quality in the second, third, and fourth round at the running back position.
As far as the Steelers are concerned, Kevin Colbert has always been a guy that he values needs. And if Eddie Lacy's sitting there, which I think he could be, that's the only guy in the first round that I would put a first round grade on.
Eddie Lacy from Alabama, and he kind of fits what Pittsburgh does. So he could be a potential consideration for the Pittsburgh Steelers at that point.
Q. I was curious what you thought about ‑‑ what you've been able to glean from Reggie McKenzie's first year, in terms of him being a personnel guy. I remember a couple years ago you looked at Darrius Heyward‑Bey and immediately associated him with Al Davis. Curious what you know about Reggie. Who he might be looking at? The kind of player he likes and have you been able to draw any opinions on that yet?
MAYOCK: Yeah, I think it's a very radical divergence from the past Raider way, and I don't mean that positively or negatively. I just mean that [it's] different.
I like Reggie and where Dennis [Allen] are headed. I think Reggie comes from Green Bay. In Green Bay, Ted Thompson has been a guy that grinds. He's out in the field all the time. He's a true, old‑school evaluator where he wants a football player first, and an athlete second.
I think Mr. Davis was a little bit the opposite. He wanted that athlete first that he thought he could mold into a football player.
So I think Reggie and Dennis are kind of tied at the hip where they're going. We want football players. We want guy that's love the game, have a passion for the game. Big, strong, fast physical football players, that's who they are.
At the top end for Oakland, I think they're in a pretty good place. They need D‑linemen. You can get that in this draft. Trust me, this kid from University of Florida, Sharrif Floyd is the prototypical three-technique in this draft, and I think he's going to be a big‑time impact player that people don't know about. I've got him rated higher than the Utah kid [Star Lotulelei]. He's a natural for what they do.
Q. Looking at Jarvis Jones is there anything he can do to alleviate concerns, and do you see him potentially having success as a 3‑4 backer in the NFL?
MAYOCK: Unfortunately, there is nothing he can do to alleviate the medical concerns. He either has stenosis or he doesn't, and it's either continuing to narrow his spine or it isn't.
Coming out of the Combine in a month or so we'll have a better idea of that when teams begin to share all that medical information.
So let's take that off the table for a second and let's assume it's not a problem. Let's talk about what kind of football player he is. He's explosive. He's a play maker. He fits in a 4‑3, which is what he already played. But some teams that are in the 3‑4 will like him. The teams like Pittsburgh, they don't care as much about length as some of the other 3‑4 teams do.
Pittsburgh looks at an outside linebacker and says, hey, he needs to be explosive, he needs to be able to disengage from blocks, and he needs to be able to pressure a quarterback. LaMarr Woodley, that's who their guys look like. So some of the 3‑4 teams will say, yes, he can play in what we do.
Q. Can Jarvis Jones fall back to Pittsburgh?
MAYOCK: Depending on medical, he could. If the medical comes clean, I don't think he gets out of the top 10 or 11.
MAYOCK: Alfred Morris, what a sleeper guy that was. We did him at the East‑West game a year ago. I was fooled like everybody else was. The thing about Arian Foster, he almost came out his junior year, but he had some medical and off the field.
Typically when guys like that that are big, good looking, fast guys, when they don't get drafted, you have to look beyond the football, and with Arian Foster, that's what it was. It was medical and off the field.
Alfred Morris, a little more the school he came out of and a lack of awareness from a lot of teams in the league.
As far as this year, and down‑the‑line guys, one of the guys that's had some off the field issues is Christine Michael from Texas A&M. I showed up at the East‑West game, and I started laughing. When you saw him next to five other running backs, he stood out like a sore thumb, great speed, quickness. He looked like a first or second round running back, and why was he at the East-West game? He should have been at the Senior Bowl. The answer is he had some issues at Texas A&M. So teams will have to do some homework on this kid. Most teams have fourth or fifth round grades on him like Morris a few years ago. He's got first or second round talent.
So he's the kind of player where teams are going to look into him and try to get a better feel for him. Jawan Jamison, the junior from Rutgers, 5'8", 200 [pounds]. Have to do some homework on him. He's kind of an interesting guy. I've only seen one tape on him, and I marked it with an asterisk. I've got to watch more of this kid. I'm anxious to see him this weekend. I do believe you can find some running backs down the line.
Q. I just wanted to ask a follow‑up question on Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins. Is there anything he could do this weekend to improve his mid to second round grade you have him at or lower that grade at all?
MAYOCK: Some teams have him in the third round, some teams have him in the second round. Again, with corners and wide receivers, when you're talking Combine, the obvious answer is speed. I think he's a little quicker than fast, and if he went out there and ran a 4.40, it would open my eyes, and I think the rest of the league would feel the same way.
Q. You've talked a lot about the receivers at the end of the first round for the Vikings. I'm wondering if we're looking at an outside linebacker who can cover, inside linebacker who can cover, or maybe a nose tackle in the first few rounds, where do you think they'd be best be served?
MAYOCK: The Vikings are a 4‑3 team. So if you're talking about the linebacker position, I think the guys that might be there in the 20s. If you're talking about the first round, I think Khaseem Greene, the outside linebacker from Rutgers makes a ton of sense. He's fit for today's NFL. He runs, he's explosive. He makes plays. Most will have him as a mid to late first round guy.
You might be able to get Arthur Brown from Kansas State in the second round. And, boy, he's a guy that makes a ton of sense. He can run, he's a play maker. I like him a lot.
If you're talking about defensive tackles, if any of the top three, Sharrif Floyd, Star Lotulelei, Sheldon Richardson was there, I'd jump all over them. I think they'll be gone by the time Minnesota gets on the board at 23. That means Sylvester Williams, Kawann Short and Johnathan Hankins are potential D‑line tackles. All three of them are gifted and talented kids and would fit what Minnesota does.
Q. Four Syracuse guys. Obviously, Ryan Nassib, Justin Pugh look like maybe second round picks. And what do they have to do to sort of solidify that position?
MAYOCK: [Ryan] Nassib is an interesting kid. I think what's going to happen to him will be similar to Kurt Cousins a year ago or Andy Dalton two years ago. When the coaches get involved in the evaluation, they'll start to fall in love with this kid because of his work ethic and intelligence.
He'll get on the board, and talk games, and talk fast protections, and coaches are going to really like Ryan Nassib. He's got good, physical attributes, not great. But good, physical attributes and all the intangibles, toughness, intelligence, and work ethic. He's going to start to quietly climb boards between the Combine and the draft.
Pugh, you know, I was surprised. He came in with short arms at the Senior Bowl, and everybody immediately wanted to move him to guard and I kind of go no way. I gave him the benefit of the doubt. He looked like a late first round tackle to me, and I'm not going to move off that until he proves to me he can't play.
And at Senior Bowl, I thought he played well. So I have a late first round, offensive tackle, and he continues to move, and he's an intelligent, smart kid again. He just needs to run well and show people he can play on the edge.
Q. You have two guys in the Combine that are probably late round picks. Where do you see them ending up?
MAYOCK: I disagree on [Shamarko] Thomas. I think Shamarko Thomas is one of the better safeties I've seen on tape. And I would give him a third or fourth round grade at the worst. Saw him at the East‑West game. Really liked him. He's short. He's tough as nails. I'd love to see him run well.
And [Mike] Glennon has to run also. He's got that potential receiver moniker on him, so he needs to run better.
Q. You said earlier that Ogletree would be one of the more intriguing guys to follow. What exactly do you think the impact is of his D.U.I. arrest and other off the field issues in terms of where he goes?
MAYOCK: Well, let's preface it by saying if he was clean off the field I'd be banging the table for a top 10 pick. So, teams value this kind of when you start talking about medical issues or off the field problems, you get a risk‑reward scenario, and every team is different with how they assign risk versus reward.
I think most of the teams are going to look at him and say, OK, multiple drug issues and now a D.U.I., we have to account for it somehow. Some teams may say he's off our board. I don't think many teams will, but some teams may say he's off the board.
Most teams will say top 10, too much risk there. Too much risk, not enough reward. If we can get him second half of the first round or first half of the second round. Every team will be different with that. They're going to assign a value based on the risk.
So until teams get to look him in the eye, spend time and grind him as a person, they're just going to discount him now for a while until all of the facts come out. Until they get a better feel for him as a kid, it's going to hurt him a half round, a round. It depends on the team.
Q. You mentioned Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree and [Johnathan] Jenkins, the other Georgia guys, anything stand out in particular about those prospects?
MAYOCK: I like [Bacarri] Rambo a lot. I think he's got real good movement skills and he's probably a third round safety. He's got to convince people he's a solid kid. There are a ton of Georgia kids running around. Every time you put a tape on, everyone wants to talk about another one.
But I like both the safeties for different reasons.
Q. I was just wondering if you could talk a little bit about Menelik Watson, and I see you've got a number five on your offensive tackle board. He's a guy that's really raw. What do you see from him on film that has you have him that high, despite only playing about 20 games?
MAYOCK: Yeah, he's one of those guys that's really long with great movement skills. When you see that, you want to make sure that you want to check out the kind of person he is.
He has first‑round talent. I know he's raw and undeveloped. But I get excited when I see a physical skill set as good as his. He looks like a natural left tackle to me. I can't imagine being the head coach at Saddleback Junior College when Menelik Watson and Kyle Long walked on to campus two years ago and said I'm here to play ball.
Pretty amazing that they were the two offensive tackles in junior college today, and Watson, I think, could be a first rounder. Long might be at the end of the day also. So both of those kids are really talented, but underdeveloped and raw kids.
For me the real test for Watson is how he tests out with the teams. Is he smart, a hard worker, does he learn quickly? All of those things will ultimately determine if he gets his name called in the first round.
Q. I know you answered a question a little while ago about the Eagles and the 3‑4. I wanted to follow up on that. You're pretty familiar with the personnel. You live in the area. If they transition to the 3‑4 as they seem to be doing, what don't they have? What do they need that you would look at first to make that transition?
MAYOCK: My first question would be is Antonio Dixon going to be my guy at nose tackle? If he think he's healthy and has gas in the tank, I think he could be at nose tackle. So that's my first question. How do I feel about him?
At the five-technique, the two defensive ends, Fletcher Cox is a natural fit. Cullin Jenkins, I liked him better in the four three to be honest than 3‑4, but he's got natural pass‑rush ability. And you look at the outside linebacker, and you're looking at guys like [Brandon] Graham, Trent Cole, Vinny Curry to me would be better in the four three. He could probably do it, same with Phillip Hunt.
So I look at those things that you have to make the decision immediately at nose tackle. And how comfortable are you that you could pressure the cornerback with those former defensive ends coming off the edge as rush linebackers. Probably, finally, DeMeco Ryans really didn't like that transition. Is he going to like it any better in Philly?
And to be honest with you, they better find a safety at some point, because all the rest of it isn't going to matter if they don't get help from the back end.
Q. It looked like you were saying there wouldn't be great value at four, but trading down might not really be something that would be attractive to the other teams because everybody sees the same film, right? I mean, you're not going to find somebody that really has somebody they covet at four, right?
MAYOCK: Yeah, somebody might fall in love with Sharrif Floyd or Jarvis Jones. You know, one of those guys. I don't know. By the way, somebody might love Damontre Moore. I don't. But a lot of people do.
So there could be some people looking for those kind of guys, or the Eagles can sit there and say, hey, we think that Dion Jordan or Damontre Moore or any of these guys can fit what we do. And Sharrif Floyd could play the five-technique. I don't think it takes advantage of what he does best. But he's got explosion and quickness.
If they played the 3‑4 like the Houston [Texans] do, which is different than most three‑fours, Sharrif Floyd would be a natural guy at number four. I bang the table for him. But it all depends from a scheme perspective how they go about doing it, because you can play it different ways.
Q. What are your thoughts, elaborate a little bit more on Sheldon Richardson and what position do you see him being his best fit? And couple of the other Missouri guys, Zavier Gooden, knowing he had a decent Senior Bowl?
MAYOCK: The Richardson kid is exciting. At 300 pounds, to me, he had movement skills of a 250‑pound linebacker. Missouri actually stood him up. How often do you see a defensive tackle standing up and playing a linebacker position at 30 pounds? So, obviously, Missouri and Dave Steckel were highly impressed with this kid's athletic ability. He's really gifted. I mean, he's probably more gifted than the Utah kid [Star Lotulelei] also.
I think his natural position is the three-technique, which is that defensive tackle and the four‑man front. But it's not the only position he can play. You can move him around and I think just about all 32 teams in the league could find a way to utilize his skill set. He's really exciting. He's got a ton of upside, and he's as physically gifted a defensive player as there is in this draft.
The Gooden kid, as you know, played some defensive back. He's a linebacker. His biggest attribute is that he runs well. Now I don't think he has great instincts. The more tape I watch, the more I go I'd love to see him see things more quickly.
But once he identifies and lets it go, once he allows his athletic ability to let it go, he's really good. It's just I don't like his instincts as much as some other people, and it's nothing you can do at the Combine to show that. What he needs to do is run real fast and open some eyes, because he's a height, weight, speed specimen.
Q. In terms of everybody has a different view of what draft depth is, but where would you say the deepest positions are and concern that you better get one early because there won't be one left at the end of the draft?
MAYOCK: I think the deepest positions are the offensive line, center guard and tackle. I've never seen two guards at the top end this good that could be top 10 picks. Love them.
I've got six tackles that I've given first round grades to. So the offensive line depth is really good. I think the defensive tackle depth is outstanding, the safety depth is outstanding. Now the corner thing is a little different. After [Dee] Milliner, nobody knows who the second corner is. That is one of the questions that could be answered this weekend. Who runs fast, who looks the best?
There are four or five boundary corners in college that play that boundary corner. Typically that means a tough, smart guy that can tackle, but is speed deficient. And almost all the top corners this year are boundary guys coming out of college.
So I would tell you, that depending on what happens with these corners, if you don't get Milliner and somebody runs fast, [Johnthan] Banks, [Desmond] Trufant, any of those guys runs 4.4, who the next corner coming off is going to be really intriguing.
I like the tight ends, but there is a dropoff after three, so you could see a little bit of a run. A team wants a tight end, but they want to make sure they're in that top three. You could see some guys going to get all three of those guys.
We haven't had a tight end drafted in the first round in the last two years, so I think that's going to change this year. Obviously, the quarterback position is all over the board. So those are the positions I'm most concerned about.
Q. Can you give us more detail on your evaluation of Sharrif Floyd and what you like about him? And also how do you think he would fit in with what Gus Bradley wants to try to get done with his scheme in Jacksonville?
MAYOCK: To answer the Gus Bradley question, I think he fits in tremendously well. Now, I think Jacksonville has more depth at defensive tackle than they do at defensive end, for instance. From a need perspective I think they could use a pass rushing defensive end more than a defensive tackle.
But what I saw on tape from Sharrif Floyd, the first tape I watched on him was Florida State, and I thought he dominated the game. He looked like he got hurt in the second half, came back in and dominated again.
What is most important about this kid is his explosion. He reminds me, and I'm not going to say he's ever going to be Warren Sapp, but it's that type of first step explosion. He can get an edge as a pass‑rusher. He's strong enough to push the pocket. He's stout against the run, and he can run sideline to sideline.
When he is fresh and can run, it's really special. I love watching his Florida State tape. Again, I think he's a top 5 talent in this draft, and I think his best position is defensive tackle on the four‑man front.
Q. You watched a lot of Combines. Just whatever comes to your mind, what drills would you expand or add or subtract to get a better read per position? What is the most frustrating things you see or would like to see the combine improve on as far as the drills?
MAYOCK: That's an interesting one. When I look at, let's forget the measurables for a second; they are what they are, and they tell teams an awful lot about whether a guy has certain movement skills. Talking about a three-cone or the short shovel, a lot of people say to me, who cares about all that stuff?
I say, hey, if you're a defensive end, and you can't get a good short shovel, you can't bend and touch the lines and accelerate, how are you going to dip around an offensive tackle and get to the quarterback? So I think there are benefits to all of those types of drills.
When you get into the individual drills, as far as the football drills, a piece of it is some of my colleagues get frustrated sometimes because they want to see more applicability to an actual football skill.
My point to these guys is every drill is there for a purpose. And the purpose is really to kind of expose physical weaknesses, expose tightness in the hips. Expose a lack of change of ability, change of direction.
So one of my favorite drills every year is watching the defensive ends, the hybrid guys that want to be outside linebackers and watching them doing their drop drills. They're really linebacker, defensive back type drills where they run on a 45‑degree angle, back‑pedal, turn, find the football, catch it and go. To me, that's where you see everything you want to see.
Any of the drills where you have to unlock your hips, change direction, go from backwards to forwards, they're great for linebackers and defensive backs.
The offensive line stuff, I'd love to see them do more of pass protection stuff. I'd love to see them add an extra player in the drill, so they have to think a little bit as they pick up inside rushers. I'm not sure we're ever going to see that stuff done, because I think they're entrenched in what it is and make it simple and make it fast. So it's more about exposing physical weaknesses and limitations than it is banging the table for an obvious football drill.
Q. Just to follow up real quick. As a former DB yourself, do you think that DB drills are the most accurate as it pertains to football?
MAYOCK: I love the DB drills because like you said, they're all completely related to football. There are back‑pedals, change of direction, opening your hips, turning your back to the quarterback and then having to go find the football. They do one drill. They time from a back‑pedal, flipping the hips and sprinting the hips 30 yards.
I agree with you, the linebacker drop drills are really good. The one drill everybody, the controversy is the gauntlet for the wide receiver. Coaches hate it because you have to catch the ball and throw it away, which is everything the coaches don't teach regarding ball security. I think that is the one that is the biggest argument between player personnel people and coaches.
Q. You talked about the safety position. If the Redskins don't go there, and I guess a corner would be another option there. Who would you suggest they look at? At what point would you look at a guy like Tryann Mathieu is he even worth the risk for many teams?
MAYOCK: Tyrann Mathieu is a really interesting wildcard this weekend. My gut tells me he's a better football player than he is an athlete. He's small. I'm not sure he's going to run real well. So I think teams are going to look at him as kind of a nickel and a kick returner.
I don't think he's going to run better than the 4.5 or 4.55. If he does, that will help him. So most teams that I've talked to have him more in the fourth round because they don't think he's very big and he's not going to run very fast, and he's had off‑the‑field issues. That could change with a good time, but he's an intriguing guy.
If you're talking about Washington [in the second round], if you're talking about a corner in that range I think you're going to talk about guys like Marc Anthony from Cal. Two small school kids that I love. [Robert Alford from Southeastern Louisiana, and B.W. Webb from William & Mary. Logan Ryan from Rutgers.
There are five guys there that are going to go in the second or third round that some of them are longer, outside corners, some of them are quicker, shorter, inside slot type guys. But they're going to fall in that range from 50 through the end of the third round.
Q. I heard what you said about the quarterback from Syracuse. But if there is another guy, a quarterback other than Geno Smith that had you to name that you think might really elevate himself this weekend, who would it be? Also, I want to ask you about Manti Te'o, there is only so much to talk about his interview process. Is that being overhyped? Is it really going to be crucial how he comes off? I guess what would you be telling Te'o if you were advising him?
MAYOCK: As far as the quarterback position is concerned, E.J. Manuel is a guy that I thought had a pretty solid Senior Bowl week and played really well in the game. Big, strong, physical kid. He's got some natural physical running ability also, not that he's a running quarterback, but he's an athletic kid and I like him. I like his attitude. I just want to see him come out and rip it this weekend.
Just throw the ball. Don't worry about it. Sometimes his technique isn't always consistent, his foot work, etc. But that doesn't matter. Get out there, let them see your arm talent, throw the ball.
It's a little similar to Mike Glennon of N.C. State. He might have the best arm talent in the draft, and I didn't see it at the Senior Bowl. So they're two kids that I'd love to see come out and rip the ball this weekend.
One quarterback off the radar that I'd like to mention is a kid from Duke, Sean Renfree. He's not going to throw because he's coming off a peck injury. I don't understand why he's not more highly rated. I watched three tapes of his this weekend, and I think his coaches get involved, a little like the Syracuse kid, this kid gets it.
I watched him against Clemson last night, and he does not have big arm talent, but his anticipation and accuracy are outstanding. I think he's going to be a fifth round guy that's going to surprise people.
As far as [Manti] Te'o is concerned, I would tell Te'o you better look people in the eye, and I know you're going to be embarrassed and I know it's going to be uncomfortable. All weekend plus all the way up through the draft, it's not going to be a comfortable situation for this kid. But don't be embarrassed.
I think he's a good kid, and I think he made a mistake, and he's naive and all that stuff, but don't back away. You did what did you. Look people in the eye, tell them your story, and let the tape do the talking for you. Your tape over four years, your performance this weekend, run your tail off, and it's going to be uncomfortable, but be honest.
Q. How much do you think this whole thing, there is so much speculation about how much it's going to hurt Manti Te'o. Do you think there are some teams that he's already been hurt by it, or do you think most teams are keeping an open mind with him?
MAYOCK: Real quickly, I think there are two schools of thought. One is most of us have made mistakes at age 21, and the kid's naive, and it's embarrassing. But it shouldn't really hurt the kid because it's not like one of those major things where you say we can't have him on our team. Some other teams are going to look at him and say he lied to his father. He had a chance when he found out about what really happened, he had a chance to tell the nation, and he lied to the nation. And do you want a liar in your locker room?
Most teams feel the former, and I know a few teams that they told me they'd be concerned about a liar in the locker room.
At the end of the day what I think happens is that up until is that story became public, he had a plus, plus, plus intangible grade. Was he going to become Ray Lewis? Could he galvanize a locker room? He had a huge intangible grade that would push his on‑the‑field grade higher. I think he's lost all of that. At best, it's now going to be neutral. Just, hey, what kind of player you are, and where can we slot you?
Q. You talked about I cover South Carolina, you covered Marcus Lattimore earlier. But I wanted to get some other Gamecock players. Particularly Devin Taylor, D.J. Swearinger, and DeVonte Holloman, where they stand going into the NFL combine?
MAYOCK: Yeah, [Ace] Sanders was a kid I thought should have stayed in school. He's got wonderful returnability, and he's coming off a big bowl game. So regardless of that the kind of kids with his size and quickness, typically fall somewhere in that plus or minus fourth round, and I think he'll end up in the fourth or fifth round. I think he's a good football player. If he went in the third round it wouldn't stun me. But I think he's going to be a fourth or fifth round guy.
Devin Taylor really had a good East‑West week. Love his frame at 6'8". Was almost unblockable in the game. And people are going to look at him and say, boy, there is a frame we can put some more weight on. Some of the 3‑4 teams might like him as a five technique.
Swearinger, the safety, I like him on tape. Want to buy into him as a person. Want to check out his work ethic and everything else. He's got a fourth round grade right now.
Holloman, kind of a tweener. 241 pounds, they moved him to spur. He's one of those guys that I like him. He's going to be a special teams guy, but a later, probably a third day draft pick.
Q. In your opinion, do you think T.J. Johnson will be picked on the final day selection?
MAYOCK: I like him because he can play more than just center. He can play the guard position. But if he gets drafted, it's going to be late. It's going to be 6, 7 or a priority free agent for him.
Q. Considering how you feel about the quarterback position, do you think the Browns are better served forgetting about it this year? You know, the draft eligible quarterbacks?
MAYOCK: It's an interesting question. I'm big on having a gameplan as far as value when your pick comes up each time. For instance, let's say Cleveland makes the pick at number six, and they get a good football player, and all of a sudden you're getting toward the end of the first round, beginning of the second round, what if Matt Barkley's sit ting there?
You look at his junior tape and you like his junior tape. Do you want to take a chance to draft Matt Barkley and let him compete with [Brandon] Weeden at that point with the sixth pick in the second round or trading up to 29. I think those are the kind of things that as this process develops, you're going to make some decisions on.
Mike Glennon, would you take him with the sixth pick in the second round? That would be tempting. He's a project, but he's got a bigger arm than Weeden and a lot younger.
But I think you've got to kind of let the process play out. And right now, if I'm them, I've got to get the best football player I can get at six and start thinking about a quarterback later on, if it makes sense.
Q. Third-round quarterbacks?
MAYOCK: If Tyler Wilson were there in the third round, maybe you're looking at him. Tyler Bray, the Tennessee kid has huge arm talent.
But there are a lot of questions about the kid, and he could be available in the fourth round. But I'm with you unless someone rated pretty highly slides down somewhere, I think you're looking at a positional draft here.
Q. I know you talked about some of the names that made sense earlier for St. Louis, but in spite of all their needs and grades you have assigned, where would you start first? Also curious where you thought Mizzou's T.J. Moe might fit into the draft?
MAYOCK: I was looking at some of him last night, and he's a later‑day guy. He has not generated a whole lot of interest. As far as St. Louis is concerned, at 16‑22, I think you've got to look at the big picture.
Offensive line, we've already talked about. I think there is a need at tight end. I've already talked about the three top tight ends. Then I think you're talking about in St. Louis, how about a safety, an outside linebacker?
I think St. Louis is in a really good position. I don't like being in the Top 10 this year, I'd rather be at 16‑22, and I think I can get, of those four positions, I can get two really good football players. If I came away with Kenny Vaccaro, the safety from Texas, I'd be happy. If I came away with any one of those three tight ends at 22, I'd be happy. An offensive lineman at 16.
So I think it's wide open, and I think their needs kind of match‑up with some of the strengths of this year's draft.
Q. I'm writing about the Chargers. They have the 11th pick. Offensive line seems to match‑up pretty well. Do you think they can avoid reaching with the talent at that position?
MAYOCK: I think they're in a good place. Because if either of those two guards are there, which one of them should be, I think it's a home run if they've got [Chance] Warmack or [Jonathan] Cooper. They could get an offensive tackle there.
They also need a 3‑4 outside linebacker or a corner. So depending on how they feel about Milliner, he could be a possibility and an edge rusher. We've talked about all those different edge guys, whether it's the [Dion] Jordan kid from Oregon.
I'm not a [Barkevious] Mingo guy, as I told you before. Damontre Moore. But I think the biggest need is certainly offensive line, and I think they're going to have a choice of guard or tackle at that point, and they should be really solid with either of them.
Q. Mike, when you looked at quarterbacks, which of the quarterbacks in this draft, regardless of round, do you feel fit Andy Reid's west coast?
MAYOCK: Oh, boy, I think Matt Barkley makes a lot of sense. He's a guy as a junior at USC looked so much different than he did this year. I think to be fair to him and also to be honest with you, with Landry Jones and Tyler Wilson, I think all three of those guys you have to go back and watch junior tape.
So I think Barkley fits what he does. I think Ryan Nassib fits what he does. I think Landry Jones and Tyler Wilson both can fit what he does.
So of those, that group of guys of the top seven, eight quarterbacks, I think those are the guys that did it most efficiently.
Q. I was calling to see what your evaluations were of the Michigan State players in the draft. I noticed you didn't have any of them, specifically the underclassmen in your top 5 position rankings, and how could they improve that standing going into the combine?
MAYOCK: Yeah, the tailback, Le'Veon Bell, I don't think he plays as big as he should play. He's listed at 244 pounds, and to me he's a little bit too much of an east‑west guy. When he comes downhill and squares his shoulder and lowers his pad level, he's pretty good.
But right now at 244 pounds, I don't think he plays that big, and I've got him more as a fourth round pick.
The tight end, [Dion] Sims, his biggest attribute is his in‑line blocking, and I think that's going to help him. But in today's NFL, the ability to get down the field and catch the ball and get vertical is a big deal. He's not one of those guys.
He's an in‑line blocker. He can do okay in the short and intermediate pass game, but mostly viewed as a blocker. So, again, I think he's going to be closer to a fourth round guy. He's one of the best blocking tight ends in this draft.
Who else am I missing?
Q. Will Gholston the defensive end and Johnny Adams, I believe the corner.
MAYOCK: Gholston I kind of like. I think he's got a lot of ability, great frame. The biggest issue with him is he's hot and cold. If he were a more consistent football player, I think you'd see him listed higher on most team's charts. He's a base 4‑3 end. He should be a second or third round pick. He's a kid that could be a good NFL player. It's just got to happen every single snap, not every other snap.
And the corner, I like him. I think he's a better football player than he is an athlete. But, again, he's a little bit of a down the line corner as far as fourth or fifth rounders are concerned.
Q. I know you got to see the Bengals late in the season, and just wondering at 21, it seems like safety and outside linebackers would be two areas. Just wondering if those kind of aligned with what they could find at 21. Also your views on Walter Stewart and how important the medicals are for him this weekend?
MAYOCK: Yeah, the medical, and any player like him, and I've got a whole list of guys with medical issues, and he's on it. There is nothing can you do about it. It's a month from now we'll find out what kind of tests went on medically and whether or not what kind of grades they got from NFL teams.
As you know, Joe, the teams are all over the place with how they evaluate medical. It's not a whole lot different from how they evaluate off‑the‑field issues. Some teams will take the kid off the board. Other teams will give them no penalty, and other teams will say, hey, if he's available in the fifth round, we'll take him, but certainly not the third.
So, as far as the positions and names, I think you're right on target. If Cincinnati walked away with Kenny Vaccaro, I would be excited if I was a Bengal fan.
I think he fits what Mike Zimmer does. I think he covered the slot. I would love to see that kid in Cincinnati. Now as far as the outside linebackers are concerned, Jarvis Jones will be gone. So you're talking about Khaseem Greene from Rutgers. He is a good fit. I like him a lot. His quickness, ability to rush the passer, he very much would fit into what Mike Zimmer likes to do.
Q. For the Detroit Lions, they have been looking for a Jahvid Best type of running back to really help with that offense and really spread things out. Do you see a guy out there, maybe not in the first round, but the latter rounds, that Detroit should target that has that type of speed to help out Matthew Stafford?
MAYOCK: Yeah. I think there are a lot of those guys that somewhere in that third or fourth round could be available.
I've got a guy, my number three running back is Andre Ellington from Clemson. He's only 195 pounds. But I like him better than most people do. A lot of people think he's going to be available in the mid to late third round.
He can catch a football. He's tougher than people think. He would protect Matt Stafford. He would give up his body to block for him.
And an explosive kid is the Oregon kid, Kenjon Barner. He ran for 300 yards against USC. Not as good a blocker, but he can catch the football, make you miss in space. You could get him in the third round, and I think he'd be a pretty exciting player.
Q. Thanks for taking the time. I had a question about a pair of defensive backs. One, I think he's listed fifth on your cornerback board, Jordan Poyer. What do you see from him as a corner and what do you think he needs to work on to get better at? The other defensive back would be safety, Tony Jefferson. Do you see him as more of a free or strong safety, and what do you think he brings to an NFL team, and where do you see both of these guys going?
MAYOCK: Poyer, I probably like better than the league does. I thought he was quick. I thought he competed both on tape and in the Senior Bowl, very quick footed. I thought he competed. He's not a particularly big corner, and the teams like the bigger corners these days. Some teams don't even look at a corner if he's not close to six feet.
So from Poyer's perspective, he's got a label and he's a little quicker than fast. It would be great to see him run the 4.4. That would help him a lot. The faster he runs, it sounds stupid, but it's true. The faster he runs, the more it's going to help him being a small corner.
And then Jefferson, the safety, is a really talented kid. I really like him on tape. What I don't like is how many tackles he misses. And I think I put the West Virginia tape on, and he must have missed 7, 8, 9 tackles against West Virginia.
He's talented, he's got straight line speed, he flashes ball skills. But I think he's probably going to go in the middle to late third rounds, and he probably should be a better player than that. But he's just got to be more consistent, especially with his tackling.
I think he can play either safety by the way, strong or free.
Q. Where do you see Jordan Poyer actually getting taken?
MAYOCK: I've got a third round grade on him, and I think he's going to go in the third or fourth round.
Q. First of all, what are teams looking for most at the Combine from offensive linemen? How dangerous a proposition is this for a guy, specifically, Jonathan Cooper, who is only projected as a first rounder going and having to perform like that? How dangerous of a proposition is going to Indy with a kid like Jonathan Cooper? You're already being projected as a first rounder?
MAYOCK: I don't think it's difficult at all. What I tell kids all the time is it's just part of the process. You've already done 85% of your work, which is your career that's on tape for every team to see. That's 80 to 85% of the draft grade.
Now after that is playing in an All‑Star Game. He decided not to. So what's next? Next thing you have to cross off is the combine. He ought to eat this thing alive. If I was Jonathan Cooper, I'd be excited. If there is anything he is, he's one of the most athletic guards I've ever seen.
So he's going to get out there in a pair of gym shorts and have a chance to show people how athletic he is. All the combine should do for this kid is help him. This should be right up his alley.
He's an athletic kid. He's explosive. He just needs to get into the meeting rooms at night, be comfortable, answer questions, and he'll be fine. I think this is a showcase for Jonathan Cooper.
Q. What is the biggest thing scouts are looking for in big guys like that?
MAYOCK: Movement skills. When you don't have pads on, you can't hit anybody, they want to see where your feet are. They'll do all the measurables. How long are your arms and all is that stuff. But it's mostly your feet and movement skills. If you look at a guard, they've got to be stout inside, and anchor which he can. But the best thing he does, the farther he gets away from the football field, you pull him, put him on the screen, pull him on the counter row, and he's got to find somebody.
This kid is great on his feet. That is what it will show people at the combine is how good his feet are. And that's, again, why I think if I'm Jonathan Cooper, I'm excited about going to the combine. Because in a pair of gym shorts, he ought to wow them.
Q. Hey, Mike, can you talk a little about EJ Manuel, and what do you think ‑‑ where do you think he'll go in it draft? Also, I'm not sure you pinned down which defensive end or outside linebacker you thought would be good for the Browns at six?
MAYOCK: As far as EJ Manuel is concerned, going to the Senior Bowl, there were people all over the board on him. Fourth, fifth, sixth round grades on this kid because this past season he was up and down, and, justifiably, grades were all over, all over the board.
Now I thought he had a good week. He's got mechanical issues with foot work and timing. The more pressure he comes under in a game as far as edge or any flashes of color, his mechanics break down a little bit, and that's typical of a lot of college quarterbacks.
So I get nervous when I see that because he doesn't have that solid a base from a fundamental perspective. But he's got a live arm, and he's really athletic. So I think he helped himself in The Senior Bowl, and he'll end up going in the third or fourth round.
Now as far as the Browns, the second question was what? The defense or linebacker class?
Q. The question was which of those defensive ends or outside linebackers would you think would be the best fit for the Browns at six?
MAYOCK: Yeah, I think it's Jarvis Jones. I'm not as ‑‑ I had mentioned earlier, I'm not as big on Bjoern Werner at six or Damontre Moore at six. Other people will be, but I'm not.
I think that Jarvis Jones is the guy, as long as he checks out medically, whose value is commensurate of the sixth pick.
Q. Tampa Bay has the 13th pick overall. They need cornerbacks, but it doesn't seem like that might work for them, and Dee Milliner falls to that spot. What do you think of that possibility? And if a corner is not there for them at that spot, what do you think is the best option for them at 13?
MAYOCK: They could look at inside linebacker also. [Alec] Ogletree would be a potential based on whatever their in‑house security tells them about the kid. Ogletree would be a possibility. It might be a little early for [Manti] Te'o. So if you're talking corner at 13, if Milliner's on ‑‑ if Johnthan Banks or [Desmond] Trufant run well, if either of them can run in that 4.4, 4.42, 4.44 range, both of them could be a potential at 13. It's a little bit high. It's a little earlier than you'd like.
But [Johnthan] Banks has got length. He tackles. Banks is the one corner I'd say that if he ran well, I think he'd be worthy of a 13th pick. But I think he's going to have to run in that 4.4 range for it to happen.
Q. I wanted to ask about the Notre Dame guys, and obviously you've touched on Manti Te'o and Tyler Eifert already. Can you talk about ultimately where you think Te'o could go, and as well as Zeke Motta, Braxston Cave, and Cierre Wood.
MAYOCK: The Te'o think is interesting, I've talked at length about it. But where should he sit as a football player, I think plus or minus 20 in the first round is about where he should fit. Ultimately, I think he's going to go in that range.
I think there are some teams that don't like him as much because of what's happened. But I think when it's all said and done, people are going to get a good vibe from this kid when they meet him and get to know him. So I think he'll go plus or minus 20.
Now, outside of him we've talked about first round for Eifert. From there, who do you want to know about? Oh, I like Motta. I think the next guy, I've got Motta in my Top 5 safeties, a lot of people don't. He's a 218‑pound kid that has a passion for the game. He works out as hard as anybody I've ever seen. He's a great teammate, understands the game. He doesn't have as good movement skills as Harrison Smith did a year ago. But he's a tough kid that can play on all four special teams and two years from now will probably start for somebody.
So I've got a third round grade on Zeke. Braxston Cave, there is a dropoff at the center position after the first three. I think Braxston is one of those guys that doesn't look as good in individual drills as he does when there are 22 people on the field. Again, loves the weight room smart kid, prototypical center as far as setting pass protections. I think he's going to be a fifth round guy.
The two tailbacks, I thought Theo Riddick did a great job this year because he's got experience now at tailback and at slot back, I think his value as that third‑down, change‑of‑pace guy has been enhanced.
Those guys typically don't go until at the earliest, third round. I think Theo is a third or fourth round guy.
Cierre doesn't catch the ball as well as he did. I think he's a fourth round guy. He's a little bigger at 210 to 215 pounds.
Am I missing anything? By the way, the guy that I felt the worst for was Kapron Lewis‑Moore getting hurt. I felt like he was going to be a fourth or fifth round, five technique for a 3‑4 team. I still think and hope he gets drafted, because he's going to provide value down the road.
Q. I know you've talked a lot about Jarvis Jones already. I'm just curious how vital are the medical checking out for him? How is it? If it completely checks out as a top 5 guy, there are a lot of questions about stenosis. Does he drop like a rock? What happens?
MAYOCK: I'm trying to remember what happened with some of the guys recently. I think Marcus McNeill was a stenosis guy coming out of Auburn, and he ended up having a really good career, but it was obviously cut short because of that. I'm not a doctor. Basically what I do is I wait to have NFL teams tell me how they evaluate a particular diagnosis.
So, a month from now, I'll talk to eight or ten teams and I'll get different feels from teams about how important that medical evaluation is and what it means.
Everybody's privy. All 32 teams are privy to the same information. But how they evaluate it is different. Some teams might say, hey, if I can get a good four years out of the kid, what does that mean? Will I take him in the top 10? Will I drop him down lower? And every team is a little different.
All I can tell you is as a football player, I think he's a top 10 pick. I think he's explosive and tough and warrants a top 10 pick.
I can't tell you how the medical's going to fall for quite a while.
Q. What do you do about the Patriots philosophy toward the draft and given there is some unpredictability at pick 29. Could you assess some of the needs and players based off your evaluations of players you think will be there in that 29 range?
MAYOCK: Yeah, you know. I think when you're looking at the Patriots at 29 the defensive back thing, whether it's a corner or safety, to me needs to continue to be worked on with New England. There is also some unpredictability about their wide receiver position. Starting with Wes Welker and moving right through their depth chart, Deion Branch, Julian Edelman, Stalworth, all of those guys technically are unrestricted free agents, correct?
Q. They are, yes.
MAYOCK: So I think the way Bill [Belichick' operates is he's always looking for value. So at 29, where's my best value? You'd like it to match‑up with the need, obviously, and the needs would be wide receiver, d-backs, maybe another edge rusher. I think Bill goes in with an open mind, okay, who is going to fall to me at 29? And do I trade out if I don't like what's there? Which is always a possibility to trade down. Or can I get some value there?
And I think if you're looking at corner, a guy like Xavier Rhodes, who is a corner or a safety. He's a 215‑pound corner from Florida State. He might now has mostly second‑round grades as a corner or a safety, depending on what he runs.
The wide receiver position we talked about earlier, who is going to be available at 29? The kid from Baylor, big, good looking, height, width, speed guy in Terrance Williams.
So I think when you start getting down to the late first round, it's really hard projecting. It's going to be value, hopefully a position of need. If not position of need, somebody slides through that's a great football player, if not, we've got to trade ask get out?
Q. Had a local kid at The Senior Bowl, Hugh Thornton, offensive line of Illinois. What did you see out of him?
MAYOCK: Kind of an interesting kid. He's got positional versatility. And Illinois a couple years ago when they went with the split and the tight arrangements they had to play on both sides of the line, which I really like. People don't understand how valuable it is to play with your left or right‑hand down in the dirt.
I think the kid has played guard, he's played tackle. Got some good movement skills. I like him inside. But I think because he can play probably four positions in the offensive line, it's going to help him. But I think he's kind of a mid‑round pick, somewhere in the fourth or fifth round.
Q. You put this all in perspective for us. This has been brilliant. But the Bengals, you look at a club like the Bengals, they signed a guy like Vontaze Burfict and drafted a guy like Andre Smith. Arguably those are the two biggest combine busts of the NFL Network era. But they've been pretty good pros. They've been very solid pros. How do you put the combine experience into perspective?
MAYOCK: I think it's critical. Teams look at it as a cross check and not a leader. By that, one of my favorite sayings is fast guys run fast, slow guys run slow. It's not a story until the opposite happens.
So you've got a guy all of a sudden that runs slower than you expect or faster than you expect. You have to go back and watch his tape. You have to give Cincinnati credit, especially on the [Vontaze] Burfict kid because the kid's tape was bad and his combine was bad.
But, to the Bengals Mike Brown and to Marvin [Lewis] and to [Mike Zimmer] and all those guys, you've got to give them credit, because they scratched the surface. They went beyond the surface and understood that there was a good football player underneath all of that, and they were willing to invest time in a free agent which a head coach hardly will ever do.
They invest the time, did their homework and they got the kin in shape and he turned into a tackling machine this year. I give them a ton of credit for that.
Andre Smith, it's taken them a while, and I don't know if it's because it's a contract year, but all of a sudden, he looks like the real deal. So you've got to give the Bengals who justifiably years ago took a lot of heat for their drafting. The reason they're in the playoffs back‑to‑back years is because they've done a much better job over the last four or five years.
Q. You were talking about quarterbacks a little while ago, Mike, and I was going to ask you about one I've been covering a couple years and it sort of seems like I've been trying to get an idea of his NFL stock. I was wondering if you could help me with Landry Jones and give me your latest assess many of him?
MAYOCK: Like a lot of the quarterbacks this year, he's so difficult to qualify. I can look at certain games and go that's a first round draft pick. I can look at other games and go, he's a fifth round guy.
I'm struggling with him. I like his junior tape better than his senior tape. I think he can make most of the throws. I think ‑‑ I know he can make all the throws. I've seen him make all the throws. But like a lot of this year's quarterbacks, there is no consistency with this kid.
Same thing with Geno Smith. Same thing with Matt Barkley. There is a lack of consistency where you want to bang the table and say I love this kid. He's smart, I think he cares. When protection breaks down and he's got to get to his second and third read, and the mechanics start to break down, it's not really good. And that is the case with a lot of these kids. When I look at Landry Jones, I've got him as my number five quarterback, and I'm holding my breath on that one a little bit.
I think most of the league is looking at him as a third round guy. I think he's a little better than that because I've seen him play at a higher level. But there is just nothing amongst this group of quarterbacks where you can bang the table and say I love this kid, and this is the quarterback of the future for my team.
Q. With the Chiefs at number one and in obvious need of a quarterback, how does this quarterback class compare to the last two minus Andrew Luck, RG3 and Cam Newton? How does this year's class compare to the rest of the last two classes?
MAYOCK: Well, I mean, this time last year I was telling people that I thought Ryan Tannehill was going to end up being a top 10 pick, and people laughed at me. He ended up going eight. That's because during the process, if a quarterback shows a live arm, and some intelligence, work ethic, and toughness, all those kind of things, as coaches get involved with the process with the personnel people, it can push quarterbacks higher.
So if you look at this group, and I kind of carved Geno Smith and Matt Barkley away, because I think they're going to be the first two off the board. They'll both end up in the first round somewhere. It could be a lot higher than I would expect. But that's my own opinion.
Now you start looking at some of the other kids and say is there a Tannehill here that could rise up? Mike Glennon of Carolina State, his arm talent, his consistency, he takes too long to deliver the football. He makes bad decisions. He makes bad throws, but the arm talent is there. So during this process, are people going to fall in love with him?
Ryan Nassib is the guy that people are going to like a lot just because, as I said earlier, he kind of reminds me a little bit of the ascension of Kurt Cousins last year, and the ascension of Andy Dalton the year before that where smart, tough. And the more the coaches get involved, they see the kid's work ethic and how much he understands of the game, they're going to start to trust him. And with coaches, trust is a big thing, work ethic, trust.
And teams are going to trust Ryan Nassib. And I think teams are going to trust Sean Renfree from Duke who is off the boards. He might be a fifth round pick, but he's got a work ethic like a Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan.
So this group, the way I categorize this group is that there is nobody ‑‑ there is not even one guy you would bang the table for in the first round. But then there are a whole bunch of guys after that where you're saying how do they sit and how much do I trust them?
The Nassib kid, people are going to trust outside of that, it's going to be hard to figure.
Q. You mentioned Dalton. What did people miss in Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick a couple years ago?
MAYOCK: They both became second round picks, they might have gone back‑to‑back in the draft. But what did people miss? [Colin] Kaepernick, I went over my notes this fall. When he started taking off, I went back to my college notes on him, and I was like look at all this I have written on this kid. What I had was big arm, wildly inconsistent, great athlete. Well you could see all that stuff.
But I think Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers spent a year kind of getting that arm where it was a lot more consistent. Could you say the same thing about Geno Smith? Probably. Could you say the same thing about Mike Glennon? Yeah, big arms.
I'm not talking about athletic ability with Glennon. But somebody could buy into a Geno Smith up high because they feel like there are flashes of everything there. However, he's got to put it together on a more consistent basis.
So a team that feels comfortable in their ability to evaluate and then develop quarterbacks are going to feel better about Geno Smith and Matt Barkley and Mike Glennon.
Q. Wanted to ask you about a couple of Michigan State guys. Johnny Adams, Le'Veon Bell, Deon Sims and Will Gholston. What do you think about them? Then with Denard Robinson, what do you think he can do at the combine to maybe win back some of the scouts he lost at the Senior Bowl?
MAYOCK: I don't know if he really lost scouts at the Senior Bowl. I give the kid credit. He had that nerve thing, and it was still bothering him. He tried to play and fight through it. I kind of liked it.
If there's one thing about Denard Robinson, if there are two things about Denard Robinson that I think I know, one, he's quick as can be, and two, he's very tough. He's got 700 touches at Michigan. I know he's a tough and quick kid. And those two attributes are big toward the development of a slot receiver.
What I don't know yet is how well he catches the football. You know, so what I'd like to see him going into the football and in the combine catching everything they throw in every drill. From the gauntlet, to the time he walks out on the field, I want to see him catch everything.
From now through the draft, that's what I want to see. Run routes and catch everything. Those are the two things that they're going to be looking for, because I think all the rest of it checks off.
As far as the Michigan State kids, I talked about them earlier, and real quickly, I really like the defensive end. He's a huge frame. He's got an ability. I think he's got second or third round ability, but it's not always there. It's got to be more consistent. He's so big and moves so well, he probably won't get out of the second round.
The tailback at 240 pounds, Bell, I don't think he plays the 244. I think he's a fourth round pick because you don't see the downhill shoulder square thing as often as you need to see.
The tight end is one of the better blocking tight ends in this class, plus or minus 280. He doesn't have vertical speed. Certainly a guy in the middle fourth or fifth round somebody will get him. The corner, Adams is a guy I liked on tape. But he's not a highly rated guy. He does everything pretty well. I think he's a third‑day guy in the fourth or fifth round.
Q. I had a more specific question about Manti Te'o with regard to the 85% of the evaluation that's already in the book. I was wondering which is the most defining in the eyes of NFL scouts with regard to Te'o. The four years on tape before the National Championship Game or his performance in the National Championship Game? Is there anything he can do at the combine that would trump what he put on tape at the National Championship Game?
MAYOCK: I think his body of work trumps it. I think, I'm not trying to give the kid any excuses. I watched the tape and it wasn't good. And most talent evaluators are going to say what is the one team he played this year that's most like an NFL team and let's go watch that tape? Obviously, that's Alabama, and he played poorly.
However, if you put the tape on over the last several years and watch him play 40 times and watched him play against Stanford, and watched him play against Michigan State, and watched him play against Oklahoma, I think the body of work over that period of time tells you he's a first‑round pick.
I think some teams have said to me, look, the kid obviously has some stuff going on in his life, and we're not sure how well prepared he was mentally to play in that National Championship Game. And again, not trying to give him an excuse. He played poorly.
So at the end of the day, the whole girlfriend thing is going to hurt a little bit. The bowl game is going to hurt. But I think the body of work is what trumps it.
Q. And real quickly can you give a grade or evaluate the linebackers in this draft behind Te'o or overall?
MAYOCK: I think there is a dropoff after the top three. I think [Alec] Ogletree, Te'o, and [Kevin] Minter from LSU are exceptional linebackers and you could give all three of them a first round grade. After that, there is a dropoff. You have Kevin Reddick, Kiko Alonso, Bostic.
So you're either going to get one of those top three guys or wait a couple rounds and get into the third and fourth round and pick up some of those other guys.
Q. Can I get your evaluation of Dri Archer out of Kent State?
MAYOCK: I've only seen a little bit of tape on the kid. So I'm not even going to go there, because I think he's a later round pick, and I've not seen him, so I can't even go there. I apologize.
Q. What are your deficiencies on Barkevious Mingo, and can you talk a little about the top LSU kids they've got 13 there at the combine. Also, one other thing about the Saints going to a 3‑4. What do you think they need at 15?
MAYOCK: OK, as far as Mingo is concerned, he's 230 pounds. He's got a little stiffness to him. He obviously runs very fast. When the ball goes away from him, he's fantastic. He's a run and chase linebacker. He's got upside as a pass‑rusher.
There is nothing about the kid I don't like. I just don't see a top 10 guy today. To me I'd feel much more comfortable with him as a developmental 3‑4 outside linebacker. Somebody that would go somewhere between 25 and 40. I know everybody's got him in the Top 10, but I just don't see it right now.
As far as some of the other LSU kids, I've already talked about Montgomery. I like him a lot. I think he's a potential late 1 to early 2. He's a 4‑3 base end.
Who else do you want to know about?
MAYOCK: Yeah, I like Minter a lot. He's a better player than I thought when I put the tape on. I think there are three potential first‑round, inside linebackers, and he's one of them. Some people have him higher than [Manti] Te'o.
Most people have [Alec] Ogletree first. If he's an inside guy, Ogletree. Then followed by Te'o, followed by Minter, and some people have Minter ahead of Te'o. And Reid, the safety is a little stiff, but a lot of production, third‑round guy.
The center is a pretty good little player. He's scrappy. He'll be in somebody's camp. No doubt about that. There are so many LSU guys that you and I could talk for an hour.
Q. Also, Saints transitioning to a 3‑4, what do you think they need? They need a lot.
MAYOCK: Yeah, I think a 3‑4 outside linebacker, an edge guy makes a ton of sense for them. And a guy like Dion Jordan could be there. Your guy, [Barkevious] Mingo, could be there. Jamie Collins in the second rounds. I think they need a 3‑4 explosive outside linebacker, and there is no doubt about that. They've got to get some pressure on the quarterback.
Up front, I think [Broderick] Bunkley is okay as a nose tackle, but I think they're in decent shape with Jordan Cameron. One of the techniques. Ellison, the other, if they resign him. But you're right, there are a lot of needs at 15 for them, and I think the five technique they can get in the second or third round as they can with the nose.
Q. Quick question about the right tackles in the draft. Have you noticed over time whether NFL teams have more success drafting left tackles, moving them to the right side or drafting guys who have always come up on the right side and have just been groomed at that position?
MAYOCK: It's an interesting question. I think the assumption has always been that if you play left side, you ought to be able to kick over to the right and be effective.
I'm not sure that's the case though because the right side is a little bit more of that run, heavy run side more so than just the pass guy.
I kind of ‑‑ right tackle is an interesting thing because right tackle only, if you're being drafted as a right tackle only, that is an awkward place to be. Because if you're only a right tackle, it means you better be the starter or you're going to get cut because you can only carry typically seven or eight guys on game day.
So you better be a starting right tackle, because you'll have a back‑up interior guy, and a back‑up left tackle.
So this year's group D.J. Fluker to me is by far the outstanding right tackle. The kid from North Carolina, Brennan Williams is going to open some eyes too. He's a pretty talented right tackle. I've got him in the third round.
Ricky Wagner from Wisconsin is an interesting right tackle. What we've seen in the last few years is that the kid from the Packers is a right tackle that could get switched over to left. He was a first‑round pick. That's what I see so far.
Q. Are you saying can you find some of the best groomed right tackles lower down in the draft because teams usually are going after left tackles first?
MAYOCK: Yeah, there is a different skill set. The left tackle has better feet and is a better pass protector, and there are fewer of those guys available. They get pushed up higher.
The right tackles, you can find those big, strong, long armed tough guys. There are more of them available in the draft. Basically, the difference typically are the feet. You have either left tackle feet or right tackle feet. That's usually what separates it.
Q. You said that you didn't grade Damontre Moore and Bjoern Werner as highly as maybe some other people have been. What are you not seeing in those guys?
MAYOCK: I'm not seeing a quick twitch ability to get to the quarterback. Werner is a tough kid, he's got a good motor. He's got a good get‑off I like his end usage, especially for a guy that's playing a lot of football. He doesn't have that clean get off and go.
Coming from a top 5 defensive end, that is kind of what you want to see. And with Damontre Moore, he's long, but, again, he does everything pretty well in the pass game but I don't see that elite, quick‑twitch burst, and I also don't see a great run defender. I think he's average against the run at best.
When I look at those kind of guys, I value them. I like them, but I like them later in the first round, not in the Top 10.
Q. I wanted to know about Reid Fragel. He didn't play in the Senior Bowl, which he was expected to.
MAYOCK: He's an interesting guy, obviously, because of the move from tight end and teams that believe that he's got some upside to him. So I think the commitment, he's willing to make to the weight room, the commitment he's willing to make to the overall work ethic of becoming a starting tackle in the league is determines how teams value him.
If they think the kid is going to work his tail off, he could be a starting tackle in two years, he'll be valued one way. If they think it's going to take longer than that, he's going to be valued another way. So I think you'll see a guy that, at best case, is a fourth round tackle, and it could go down from there depending on how teams feel about him.
Q. Can he do anything at the combine in terms of numbers to make that different, or because he's so raw, that those numbers aren't as important?
MAYOCK: The numbers are important. I think how long his arms are and how fast he runs and how strong he is. I think you want to start building a composite picture of this kid. We already know his raw developmentals. Let's assign some numbers to him and see how far he has to go before we think he can be a starting tackle.
Q. Asking about the Chicago Bears, you know, with stressing the need to better protect the quarterback, bringing in a fresh O‑lineman is maybe an obvious choice. But with an aging defense as well, which direction do you think they'll go with their 20th pick, and who do you personally think they should bring to Chicago?
MAYOCK: I think they have to take an offensive lineman. I think they've got to protect their quarterback much better than they have. When Jay Cutler is protected, he's one of the top quarterbacks in football. When he's not protected, you can't win football games.
So from my perspective, it's got to start up front. When you're picking, I think they're No. 20, if I remember correctly, when you're picking in round No. 20 and talking about linemen, I think it's a good year to be at No. 20. Because Lane Johnson from Oklahoma could be there. D.J. Fluker from Alabama could be there. Two of the better tackles in the draft.
Then when you're talking about the guards, if either Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper were available, you'd have to jump all over them. So I think there are four names right there who make a ton of sense for Chicago.