Last week, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock held his annual pre-draft conference call. This call is always one that many reporters and others around the league look forward to as Mayock isn't afraid to share all of his information with the callers. This year, it was no different as Mayock showed his knowledge of the prospects in the draft and was also in tune with what each team in the NFL was looking for.
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Below is the entire transcript of Mayock's conference call, which comes courtesy of NFL Media. The text in bold are the questions that Mayock was asked and the text in regular font and style are Mayock's answers and statements.
Just a very quick overview on this year's draft. I probably, in the last 15 days, talked to the majority of the teams in the league, either on the phone or in their buildings. There's some pretty significant players moving up and down, and I really believe that as far as specific positions, I think the quarterback, tight end and safety classes are poor. I also think that wide receiver and running back are elite, really good at the top end and depth throughout. The other classes are closer to average. That's a quick overview. We can get into anything you want, and let's take it from there, guys.
I'd ask you about the Titans at No. 2. Do you see them taking a quarterback there (indiscernible)? And who would be a wildcard pick for them there? I'm wondering if Amari Cooper or Kevin White would be a huge surprise to you at No. 2 if they don't go QB?
I think if I'm in their building, I'm hoping that I'm a Zach Mettenberger fan, because I'd much rather continue to develop around him as opposed to drafting a rookie quarterback, unless I felt like the rookie quarterback was significantly better, at which point you've got to take him. A lot of this obviously depends on what the feeling in the building is and if you believe Mettenberger can become a starting/franchise type quarterback given enough help, then it opens up other options either taking a dynamic playmaker at 2 or a potential trade down. And let's face it, Tennessee has a lot of holes personnel wise on both sides of the line of scrimmage. So if they don't trade down, which is what you're asking me, I still think the guy that makes the most sense is Leonard Williams. He might not be as sexy as either of the two wide receivers or maybe even a Dante Fowler. I think they did a nice job signing Derrick Morgan, signing Brian Orakpo, and if they could add a Leonard Williams to the inside of that line I think they go a long way towards, A, stopping the run which they couldn't do last year, and B, being a lot more dynamic in the pass defense game.
You've seen these quarterbacks and Mettenberger last year, what would you do if you were the GM?
I'm not in the building. And the knock on Mettenberger has not been about his physical traits. He's big, strong, first round arm talent. He went the sixth round because he was coming off an ACL and because of potential character concerns. To me the question was how did he deal with it last year, how did he come along, what's his football IQ, what's his work ethic? Those are the important things. If you're not in the building, you don't know the answers to those.
Just wanted to get your opinion on where you think the Chiefs could go in the first round, and what are you hearing, who do you think would be some good fits for them after talking to people the last few weeks?
They signed Jeremy Maclin, but obviously I still think they need a wide receiver. Albert Wilson is a promising and intriguing prospect, as is De'Anthony Thomas who plays both running back and wideout. I'd love to see another wideout but that's typically not been Andy Reid's MO. And Andy is not a first round wide receiver guy historically. So if he doesn't go that way, would he go offensive line again? And to me that could make a lot of sense. And if you're looking at offensive line for Kansas, if you're looking at offensive line for Kansas City, they have both guard and tackle needs. And could they take a right tackle that could play inside such as a La'el Collins from LSU or an Ereck Flowers from Miami. There would be two logical other picks for me.
Two questions for you. First off, what is your specific assessment of Central Michigan wide receiver Titus Davis as day three receivers? And then more bigger picture, as it compares to other drafts how do you gauge the strength of this draft class at the top, meaning within the top ten picks this year?
As far as the second question first, there's a lot of conversation recently regarding after six or seven picks or so, a lot of the next group of guys are very similar. Chicago is sitting at 7, for instance, and from my perspective, they're obviously hoping both quarterbacks go so that they can get the highest position player available on their board, which should be either a wide receiver or the highest ranking defensive player on their board, because they need help everywhere on defense. And the other question I think was on Titus Davis who for me is a late draftable player. Catches the ball extremely well, can play inside and outside. Only about a 4.55 40 guy, 6 feet, about 195. Coming out of Central Michigan I've got him in the fifth, sixth, seventh round, in that range, especially since it's such a good draft year.
My question doesn't pertain to the top of the draft necessarily, maybe not even the first round but if you look at the history of the workout warriors, the Mike Mamula being the prototypical guy, or Archuleta, maybe Vernon Davis. I wonder, A, are there any of those guys in this draft, and, B, what are the conversations like in a draft room when they're assessing a player who has maybe just jumped out of the combine, done something phenomenal? Are those players sort of less seductive in light of the history of some of these guys maybe not panning out?
I thought Steve Keim, the GM of Arizona had a great line, which you probably just saw in the last 24 hours, which I think he said that if Hannibal Lecter was a high level draft pick we'd probably just say he had an eating disorder (laughter). So from my perspective, some hot button names this year, for instance, with first round potential are Dorial Green Beckham, the wide receiver. Obviously Randy Gregory, who should be a top 10 pick but has just off the chart measurables but all kinds of concerns from a character perspective, and then probably the Oklahoma defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. And if you look at all three of those guys, they've got absolutely outstanding physical traits. But for different reasons they're considered boom or bust. And I think the conversation in the draft room typically is how do you mitigate the risk? You want the reward, but how do you mitigate the risk. And typically the answer is rather than taking him off the board entirely is we'll assume that downsized value at a certain point. So if we think Randy Gregory is a top five player, will we assume that risk in the second round, if he gets passed 20? It's a combination of kind of financial and overall risk/reward analysis. And the same thing with the nose tackle from Oklahoma, gifted, gifted kid. Height, weight, speed, everything you want. But the question is his football character and do you think he loves it or not? Where are you going to pick him? I think he'll probably go 25 to 40. he's got great talent. And the same thing obviously with Green Beckham. I you think he's Randy Moss some day, how do you feel about passing him if you have a first round pick?
If you take the character out of it, though, what about the guys who are freaks at the Combine, if they do one thing freakishly well, how much has that turn had?
It turns heads. It forces you really to go back to the film. And when a guy jumps 43 inches or a Byron Jones, who comes out of nowhere and the broad jump, the speed, the size, and you've got to really go back and just take away from your mind all those numbers and say, okay, what kind of football player is he really, and at what level can we develop him? So really the answer to your question is it gets the kid more attention, and I think sometimes we make more mistakes with those kids than any other kind of kid, because we want to believe their upside is highly significant with great coaching, but sometimes there's something else missing.
With Chip Kelly it seems he places more emphasis on size, specific measurements for players than other coaches. He's now obviously running the show completely here in Philadelphia. Will that narrow his draft board and does that does that come with a detriment to getting the best players possible when you select in the draft?
I actually think it's a plus. And I think the teams that draft the best have the smallest draft boards, believe it or not. And what that means is they do a great job of eliminating players that don't fit them for whatever reason. And you can go back to Bill Parcells as far as big bodies. And Bill Parcells has a pretty good coaching tree and a GM tree. And there are teams in the league that won't look at corners, for instance, that aren't over 5'10" or 5'11" or whatever, no matter how good they are, they won't look at them. And the theory is you can't build a team on exceptions. Oh, he's under 5'10" but boy he's really good, I like him. If you start doing that too often, then you've limited the talent, the overall talent on your team. So I would argue the other way, actually. I would argue that if you do a great job getting all kinds of players off your board that don't fit for whatever reason, you can do a better job on draft day of identifying, A, the players you want, and B, moving up and down based on league value.
You've talked to Chip a lot. You know what he looks for in terms of character. Last year they drafted everyone who graduated. They drafted a bunch of team captains the last few years. Do you sense that maybe he stresses that more than other evaluators around the league?
I think every team does it a little bit differently. And there are certain teams that place more emphasis on team captains and character and graduates and intelligence. And the bottom line is I think Chip has got his own plan and I don't know what it is. I have no idea what his plan is, other than he likes big, fast, smart football players, which sounds simple. But he does. And beyond that, I think we're just going to have to wait and see.
I'm just wondering if you can help me out with the scout's job and drawing the distinction between a prospect who is raw and unrefined compared to the prospect that's just not good enough to play at the NFL level and what elements they might use to draw those distinctions one from the other.
I think what it comes down to is a conversation of physical traits. So there are – pick an offensive lineman. There are certain linemen that can play at the collegiate level at a certain level and are pretty good players, and they might be second team All-Big Ten or whatever but they've been good college football players. But when you look at them, from a height, weight, speed, arm length, et cetera, perspective you might say wow, that's really limited. He's not getting much better. He's slow. He's heavy footed. He's got short arms. He plays with good technique, therefore he was a good college player. But when he takes a step up in competition, that technique is not going to matter because he doesn't have the physical traits. The flipside of that is the big offensive lineman that played Division I AA or was only a one year starter and he's 6'7", 325, with 35 inch arms and he wasn't as good a player as the first guy. But his upside is much more dramatic. And you think if I get that kid and we can redshirt him for a year and we get him with our offensive line coach and strength people, a year from now we've got a different kid and I think that's the distinction.
Want to ask you about two Big Ten kids Ibraheim Campbell, the safety at Northwestern, what do you think about him and his chances of going to the top four rounds? And Trae Waynes at Michigan State, why you think he is rising on a bunch of draft boards?
As far as Trae Waynes is concerned, I don't think he's rising, I think he's been there. I think he and Kevin Johnson from Wake Forest are the two cleanest corners, and they're different. I think Waynes' highest and best use is as a press corner. He's long. He's got great speed. He's a little bit stiff, but most of those long guys are. And he comes from a college program where they tackle and they're held accountable. So people perceive him to be the No. 1 press corner who is clean on and off the field. As far as Ibraheim Campbell, you just touched on one of the guys I really like. I saw him play high school football at Chestnut Hill Academy. He's one of the smarter or smartest kids in this draft. He plays smart. He plays tough. And the perception was that he is stiff and a little tight behind. However, I thought he played well at the Senior Bowl. I thought he covered better than people thought. I think the earliest he can go is in the fourth round. I think a lot of teams have him in the fifth and sixth, but I think there's a little bit of love for him out there in the fourth round.
Wanted to ask you about the changes made to the NFL's evaluation process this year for underclassmen, only giving grades for first, second or neither. And has that affected your evaluations at all and have you gotten requests from players or their camps about getting feedback on where they might go?
Nothing's really changed for me. And every year I get requests, mostly from people I know or people, friends, maybe some coaches, college coaches who say, hey, there's a kid at a certain school looking for an evaluation. I always try to help out when I can, if it's appropriate. But for the most part, my schedule is so busy wait for the underclassmen to declare. I try to stay out of that business, let them declare, and when the Senior Bowl ends, I go to work on the underclassmen, especially the highest ones right after the Senior Bowl. So it hasn't affected my job very much.
I've got a question in regards to the Jaguars at 3. Would it be tough to defend the Jaguars taking Amari Cooper at that spot, or do you think that it would be a good decision in your opinion?
My golden rule in the first round, especially at the top end of the first round, is you better get yourself a good football player. The boom or bust guys, for me, would not be even in play at No. 3 or 5 or 7. It's just let's get a really good football player. And if you look at Jacksonville who were last in the league in points scored, and No. 31 in the league in pass game, with a rookie quarterback, they're trying to develop an offensive line, I think you can make a compelling case for a wide receiver, whether it was Kevin White or Amari Cooper, and especially with Cooper because he's safer. So I would have no problem with that. Now, they had a pretty good young class last year, obviously, with Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns. That's an awfully young wide receiver room. But from my perspective I would probably prefer they take a Dante Fowler or Leonard Williams. I think they need to continue to upgrade that defensive front. I think they both fit with what Gus Bradley wants to do. And because that wide receiver class is so deep this year, if you want to go back and get a wide receiver I think you can get them at 36. And I think given who they have you might want to try to get a slot wide receiver as opposed to an outside guy.
One, I've heard so many different opinions on the offensive line class. Just curious what it means; is it strong, weak, what does it say about the talent or depth at the position? And then, two, can you explain why Todd Gurley, in a year where there seems to be so many good running backs, and he has the ACL, and the position is so devalued, why is he worth such a great pick?
Good questions. As far as the offensive line class, let me put it to you this way: After Brandon Scherff, who was a tackle at Iowa and is going to get kicked inside and will probably go in the first 10 or 12 picks, after him, there's an awful lot of question marks. Now, it doesn't mean there's not a lot of talent, because there is. But I could take, for instance, Ereck Flowers, D.J. Humphries, Andrus Peat and T.J. Clemmings. And all are gifted first round tackles but I can poke a hole in every one of those kids, either from a technique perspective or an off the field perspective or whatever. So what's happened this year is that after Brandon Scherff and some teams like Cam Irving who could be a center, the kid from Florida State but as far as the tackle group is concerned, man, they've been pushed down a little bit in the first round, not because of talent, but because they're not all ready to play day one. For instance, the reason I have La'el Collins as my No. 1 tackle is because out of that whole group he's the only one where I bang the table and say: I think I know exactly what I'm getting. I'm getting a starting right tackle that can kick inside and play guard, but I'm getting a starter day one and he's a body mover, I know what I'm getting. All those other guys have question marks, and I think they're getting pushed down to the second half of the first round. And then the other question was Todd Gurley, and that's an interesting question. I mean, Melvin Gordon's my No. 1 back, not just because of the ACL. But I believe in Melvin Gordon. Todd Gurley is a home run hitter. He's a difference maker. That's why there's s much intrigue. When you talk about height, weight, speed, I mean this is the guy that was on the U.S. under 19 hurdle team that went to France when he was 18 years old. So at 222 pounds, you know, he's a world class sprinter. And when you look at the big plays he made in the SEC and the high level he played, it's easy to see how teams would say, hey, that's a difference maker for us. So I think I understand why people look at him that way. I just slightly prefer Melvin Gordon more.
Number one, what's your latest take on Jay Ajayi and where was he for you before concerns about his knee came out; and in your opinion, which team needs to move up to No. 2 the most to get Marcus Mariota?
Okay. Ajayi's value for me was a solid second round pick. And he got a huge load this year at Boise State as far as touches were concerned. I felt like he was a big back with quick feet. Came downhill, finished runs. Pretty much liked everything about him as a really solid second round guy. Now, there's been significant concern about his medical. And without getting too deeply into it, I've talked to a bunch of teams, and I think it's going to hurt him a little bit. Some teams don't care that much, other teams do. So here's a guy that I had solidly in the second and in the middle of the second round, he could still go there. But I think worst case he drops into the third round where teams will feel like it's a little bit more value for the risk As far as who needs to trade up to 2, that's a hard one. Trading up to 2 is a big deal, because if you look at the old trade value chart, trade chart, 1 through 4 have by far the highest values, and then there's a precipitous drop to No. 5 and it gets a lot easier to start trading. I'm not saying every team uses the trade chart but it's a basis to start conversation. So trying to get up to 2 is really hard, unless you have an existing player like San Diego has with Philip Rivers or perhaps Philadelphia has with Sam Bradford. If you want to go from 12 to 2, it's really expensive. In other words, Cleveland. They'd be giving up a first round pick. And I'm not sure they want to do that. If I'm Cleveland, I'd much rather wait to see if he got to five and move 12 to 5. I wouldn't have to come out of pocket with a first round pick. So when I'm looking at teams trying to come up to 2, really it's got to be somebody fairly close. Would the New York Jets do that? I'm not sure, because if he gets by 2 he's going to get to 5. So for me it's an intriguing conversation, because unless you have an existing quarterback you can use to get up to 2, it's hard to get there with draft picks.
Just hoping to get your draft sketch on two guys from the Bay Area, Marcus Peters and then Oregon State's quarterback Sean Mannion?
I really like Marcus Peters as a player a lot. And the corner class is interesting, because after the two guys I mentioned that were pretty clean, which are Waynes and Kevin Johnson, then you're dealing with some different issues. And Marcus Peters is one of them along with Jalen Collins from LSU. So Peters is as good a pure press corner as there is in the class, kind of like Trae Waynes. He's quick, plays with an edge. He tackles. He's a freaky good looking corner that if he was clean off the field would be probably a top 15, 18 pick in any class. Now, you add in the question of whether or not there are character concerns, whether he can take authority, his relationship with his coaches, I think what that does is just throws a cloud over it a little bit and pushes him towards the bottom of the first round. I think he's going to go between 20 and 32. And I'd be really surprised if he slid out of 1. I'm sorry, Mannion was the other question. I've got him as my sixth quarterback. He took a beating. Not much with the wide receiver position, the offensive line wasn't very good. He throws with some anticipation and timing. He's really skinny, big, tall. He's got to accelerate everything he does from his reads to his physical movement skills. But he reminds me a lot of Mike Glennon when he came out of NC State. Glennon, I believe, went in the third round. I've got Mannion going either in the third or fourth, and I think he's a guy that could, with development and strength, turn into an interesting quarterback.
This is a little bit of follow up to Randy Gregory, but what kind of mystery does it lend to a draft when a guy like that's status changed the way it did and maybe those teams in the second half of the first round kind of have to reevaluate?
It's a good question. It's interesting, because I've had a bunch of teams asking me about what I call the edge class. And because I think a month ago our perception was that there were going to be at least four guys going in the first eight picks. And now the perception is couple of those guys are probably sliding down a little bit. And the main one is Randy Gregory. And trust me, I've had a bunch of teams in the bottom half of the first round going, uh oh, we've got to be all over this guy from our owner, because you might have to bring him into this conversation, from our owner down to our coaching staff, et cetera. And what I think it really becomes, it's an organizational call. You've got top 10 talent. And if you're going to pull the string with him at 16 or 32 or 48, I don't care where, because of the well known off the field issues, you've got to get ownership buy in and you've got to have a coaching staff that understands what they're going to have to do to provide an infrastructure to help this kid succeed. And I'd be interested enough, if I was a coach and a GM, I'd really want to have that conversation. Okay, what kind of kid is he really? And, by the way, all my feedback is that he's a pretty smart kid. So I'd want to know more about this kid, and what can we do to provide an infrastructure to help him succeed. So it's not a 50/50. It's more 80/20. How do we get him, because if we get him later in the first round or the second round, we've got an all pro talent that if we provide him with everything he needs, maybe we get it out of him and we mitigate that boom/bust conversation.
Gut feeling on where he fits?
I have no friggin' idea. In all honesty. In my head he could go 13 or 31 to New Orleans. But these are the kind of deals where teams keep it real quiet, they don't let anybody know. They get their owners to buy off. And if he's there at whatever number. 24 to Arizona. 31 to New Orleans pick a number, but everybody's doing their homework in case he gets to them
Regarding Brandon Bridge, has your assessment of him changed since the combine, or are you hearing different things since the combine? And also could you let me know what you think of the other two Canadians that could be drafted Tyler Varga of Yale and defensive tackle Christian Covington of Rice?
Brandon Bridge for me is a similar conversation. He's got exciting arm talent. But he's so raw it begs the question where does he get drafted if at all? So I think teams look at him as perhaps a sixth or seventh pick if you really want to get him in your camp or a priority free agent. He's got size. He's got arm talent. But he's got a long way to go from accuracy and technique. Tyler Varga is a much safer look, but a similar projection. He can play fullback, he opened some eyes at the Senior Bowl. He can play some tailback, he catches the ball. He's a tough guy. I like Varga a lot. But I think he's like most fullbacks, at best, he's late draftable or a priority free agent. And Covington, I wish he had been healthier more in his career because when healthy he's a quick, penetrating three technique. Obviously his father has the heritage in the CFL. So he's an interesting kid because he's got DNA. And I've met the kid, and I like the kid. I just wish he had been healthier. The big knock on him is durability. I think he'll probably go somewhere fourth, fifth, sixth round and I really root for the kid because I think he's a super kid.
Just wanted to kind of get your thoughts on what you saw Green Bay doing there at No. 30. Obviously with their needs, inside linebacker, some cornerback depth. If it comes down to those two positions, how do you gauge the impact of getting the plug and play inside linebacker that can start right away, versus adding to that cornerback depth and obviously what's a very pass happy league?
It's interesting because I don't have an inside linebacker, personally, with a first round grade. Now having said that, they're at 30. And I think five linebackers are going to go in the second round, and I think the two that make the most sense I'll put three in that category, actually. I think Benardrick McKinney makes sense. Denzel Perryman from Miami and maybe Stephone Anthony. And all of them have second round grades for me. McKinney makes sense in the Green Bay scheme. And usually I would say now don't take an inside linebacker with a first round pick. However, I think there's a significant intent to get Clay Matthews back outside 100 percent of the time. And I think that's sincere. And I think it makes a ton of sense to me, and it might be worth a pick at 30, with a kid that might be a second round guy. So I look at that pick as whoever their top ranked inside linebacker is versus what's left on the corner board. And if Marcus Peters is still there, or Jalen Collins is sitting there, you've got to look at that and you've got to weigh what you like better. What's more important to you, getting Clay Matthews back full time on the outside or augmenting that corner position immediately with a kid that can play a significant number of snaps.
As a quick follow up, you said those five inside linebackers that could go in the second round, what do you see the chances being of any one of them still being available at 62?
Well, the guy I like will probably be there. It's Paul Dawson from TCU. He's got as good a tape as anybody I've seen in the country this year, but he's got significant character and measurables. He didn't test well. And he's had a lot of questions about his football passion. In all honesty, I love the kid's tape, but he's going to get pushed down late 2, the mid 3, even slide into 4. People are killing his football character. So out of that group he would be the one that would be sitting there and Ted Thompson and Mike would have to make some decisions on character at that point.
With the Lions at 23 how do you see them in this draft shaking out, obviously a lot of needs and options at that spot.
When you're sitting there with 23, and I think what they really need is either "D" line or "O" line and you could throw corner in there also, you know, with Mathis being 34 years old, but I think when you're at 23, you've got to let the board come to you a little bit and see what's available. And where do you have the highest rated defensive tackle at that point? Is it Malcolm Brown, Eddie Goldman, who is still on the board at 23 when it's your turn versus who are the offensive tackles on that board. Because Ladrian or Leandrean (pronounced) Waddle. I don't know how to pronounce his first name. LaAdrian. He's coming off the ACL in January. I don't even know who really is going to play left guard or they trust in Travis Swanson, their third round pick. So they need some bodies up front on offense. And I think you've got to play the board, who is available at that particular point and how do you value that guy. And I already mentioned a couple of defensive tackles that may or may not be because Malcom Brown, Eddie Goldman, you could throw Jordan Phillips in there. All three of them are all in that range. And at offensive tackle, if you're looking at a right tackle that could also potentially play guard, which I would think would make a lot of sense in Detroit, I think you're looking at La'el Collins who will probably be gone and a guy like Ereck Flowers.
If Melvin Gordon or Todd Gurley are still there, would you go that route, or would you still stick with the offensive/defensive line thinking?
I've got running back as a significant need. And they're game changers. But you've got to kind of balance what kind of team you want to be. You look at them and they were I think 28th or 29th in the league last year in run game. And they throw the ball a lot and they throw it well. Are they going to change their balance to accommodate that guy or not, I love those two tailbacks. But really comes down to that same evaluation. If one of those guys are there, you've got to decide up front. If one of those guys are there, you're taking them. If not, you're going the other direction. To be honest with you, they're difference makers. One of those guys would be really hard for me to pass up.
Curious what you make of Laken Tomlinson, the guard out of Duke?
He's one of my favorites. But he's kind of scheme specific. If you like him, it generally means you're a gap scheme mauler type of team, where you like bigger guys like the Detroit Lions drafted Larry Warford couple of years ago. That's a guy that I think is similar to Laken Tomlinson. If you like him, you like him as a second round phone booth mauler. If you don't like him, you're probably a zone scheme team, outside zone, and you don't like his athletic abilities enough to consistently play at that level with the feet necessary and conditioning necessary. So I think he's going in the second round, worst case third, and he's one of my favorites.
I'm wondering what kind of feedback have you been hearing about Breshad Perriman and how much does his pedigree as far as being the son of a former NFL player play to his advantage?
Yeah, it's an interesting one. I mean, I don't know how he got that height because dad was at the workout and he's about 5'10". But DNA doesn't lie. So it's always nice to just have natural physical ability confirmed. You know it's there. I think, more importantly, there were two things you take out of that workout. I was there. We were all buzzing about the 4.25. Doesn't really matter what the time was. It was fast. Does he play to that speed, no. That's one of the things he'll have to learn to do is to play faster. Most of us thought that he was about a 4.5, 4.48 kind of player off the tape. Once he learns how to use his speed to set up corners, think his upside is as dramatic as any wide receiver in this draft. So you're talking about a guy with great height, weight, and speed. The misnomer on him was he had bad hands because he had seven or eight drops this year. My perspective, and I watched every target on tape, is that he's got great hands, just some dumb concentration drops. At his pro day, just as importantly, and maybe more so than what he ran in the 40, he caught everything. And he's a natural hand snatcher. He's in the conversation now with DeVante Parker, who is a third wide receiver off the board is, and I'd be surprised if all four of those wideouts don't go out about 20.
Also UCF has been developing quite a reputation for getting guys ready for the NFL, the next level. What has been, I guess, your feedback in terms of how NFL scouts view UCF in terms of getting players ready for that level?
Look, they've done a great job. And that's a tremendous coaching staff. The facilities are outstanding. I kind of feel like UCF is a sleeping giant. And you're in the middle of one of the best recruiting bases if not the best in all of the country. So there's no doubt what the NFL sees with UCF.
Quick question for you about Trey DePriest, the linebacker from Alabama. Want to see what you think of Trey, his viability as an NFL draft prospect, what you've heard from teams about him?
Sure. From my perspective Trey DePriest is kind of a late draftable guy. First of all, inside linebacker, which is what he is, has been devalued throughout the league and especially his type of linebacker. He's six feet, 250 plus. Ran just under five flat 40, which is a bad 40 time. So he's kind of a two down run thumper. And probably late draftable, sixth or seventh round, if he was a free agent, it wouldn't surprise me. But he's a tough guy that's a run stuffer and that's about what the NFL sees.
Also wanted to get your take on a couple of I guess under the radar type guys that played in the College Gridiron Showcase game in January, first of all, Nick Perry, the safety from Alabama, and then also a Baltimore guy, Adrian Coxson, from Stoneybrook, who transferred there from I guess Maryland after transferring from Florida, what have you heard about those two guys during the course of this process?
On Adrian, I haven't heard anything. He's a free agent. I haven't watched him on tape. So I'm not even going to try to tell you what he is. He's on my list. I haven't seen him play. He's listed as a free agent. Nick Perry is a little bit more than that, but still a priority free agent, not a good safety class as we talked about earlier. But I don't think he's going to be draftable.
I presume you think that Mariota will be off the board by the time No. 6 comes around if the Jets stay there. Please correct me if that's an incorrect presumption. And presuming he is gone, how would you kind of assess the Jets' options at 6 if they choose to stay there?
Well, I don't presume anything, especially with quarterbacks. Because if Tennessee doesn't take him at 2, and it's too rich a trading environment for anybody to get there. Let's just say Tennessee takes Leonard Williams, then you know he's not being taken, Mariota is not going 3 or 4 because Jacksonville and Oakland, both have young quarterbacks. That puts him at No. 5. And Washington's interesting because obviously there's been a rub with the organization and RGIII. So if I'm the Jets and you really like Mariota, A, you think about going from 6 to 2. B, you think about going 6 to 5, just to guarantee nobody else can jump you, because as I said earlier, Cleveland could come from 12 to 5 without giving up a first round pick. So if I'm the Jets at 6 and he gets past Oakland at 4 and I'd be on the phone with Washington saying, hey, what is it going to take to move one spot just to guarantee I get the kid. Washington would love that because they could get whatever player they wanted plus pick up a second or third round pick by moving down one. So that's just my overview of the Mariota situation. And he could be there it all depends what happens at 2. If he doesn't go at 2 to anybody, he's going to get the thumb. As far as their needs beyond quarterback, I think they've got to be looking at edge. Calvin Pace is 34. Babin is 35. They need a young dude. They need somebody that can get after the quarterback naturally. And at that point several of those guys are going to be available. Fowler is going to be gone. Randy Gregory probably won't go early because of that. Vic Beasley has some questions about whether or not he can set an edge in the run game. Bud Dupree is a guy who has been climbing charts because he's 270 pounds, and Shane Ray is another edge guy. So at 6 they've got an opportunity, if they want it, to go after whoever they perceive to be the top edge guy on their board. So after that I think it's "O" line, unless they were going to take Scherff, I think that's too high.
Say Mariota does fall to them at 6, do you see any way they pass on him; do you see any way he gets past 6, Mariota?
Personally, and I don't know anything about it in the building, personally, if he got to 6, I'd sprint that thing up there.
Follow up of something you've mentioned a little bit 7in this call about Gurley and Gordon. Where do you stand, where do you think the league stands as far as running backs being first round commodities given that none went in the first round each of the last two drafts?
It's become a pass first league. And there's been enough success out there from a lot of teams that go with the multiple running back approach. And look at Philadelphia. They've already got Sproles, yet they added, once they lost McCoy, they added DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. There's a lot of teams out there that believe you need more than one running back and why not spend a second or third or fourth round pick on big guy and a change of pace guy. That's become very common and it makes a ton of sense. Now, the outlier is defined as the person that is a difference maker. And when you get an outlier, you've really got to spend some time evaluating that person. And with Gurley, I think you've got tremendous ability, talent, and speed, you have to worry a little bit about the durability and the ACL. He's had a couple of injuries in college, in only a three year career. And you've got to look at Melvin Gordon, who reminds me of Jamaal Charles, he doesn't have the break away speed as Charles but he has everything else. I think he's a difference maker. So if you're a team that wants to run the football with really good balance, you look at Baltimore, for instance, you look at all the teams that Seattle has gotten to a Super Bowl, San Francisco, went to three consecutive NFC Championships and the formula is run the football, play great defense in special teams and don't make mistakes. So I think this year is the first time we're going to see a running back taken in the first round in several years and we probably get there.
My second question is about defensive lineman, in particular Leonard Williams and Owa Odighizuwa from UCLA. How does their versatility help them as prospects, and how is it beneficial for a team to land someone like that who can play in different schemes or play in different spots?
The key in defensive fronts these days is the versatility in their fronts. In other words, your base might be a 3 4, but in your sub packages you're going to four men down and all kinds of different looks; and vice versa, your base might be a four man front, but you go with an odd front and sub packages. So the more versatile pieces you have as defensive linemen that can play outside, can play inside, can stand up or play with their hand in the dirt, it gives the defensive coordinator more versatility to create sub packages. So the more you can do, it's, A, it saves roster slots and, B, you give that defensive coordinator more ammunition. So when you look at Leonard Williams, he's like a Richard Seymour or a J.J.Watt. I'm not trying to say he's J.J. Watt. I don't mean it that way, I mean how you can use him up and down the line, inside/outside. Odighizuwa is a little less versatile. I think he's a base hand. I don't think he can stand up; however, you can move him up and down the line of scrimmage a little bit and that will help him also.
I was going to ask you about the two running backs and you've covered that. From a Cardinals perspective, you're sitting there at 24, and one of those guys are there versus, say, a pass rusher, Randy Gregory, what do you think you do? What will be the discussion in the room?
I'm sure they're having that conversation right now about Randy Gregory. And he's just like careening towards that back end of the first round. So I'm sure that conversation's happening in their room. And I'm sure the conversation about the two running backs Adrian Peterson, all that stuff. It's all fascinating. Dallas, Arizona, Baltimore, whatever. If the two running backs are already gone, from my perspective, I think you're looking at who is the best defensive player as an edge guy, the top corner on the board or even the top five technique like an Arik Armstead from Oregon. I don't think he's going to last that long, but I think they could use some help at that I think they get younger at that position. So anywhere in there. Is it an edge guy, 24, because if it's not Randy Gregory, can a Shane Ray slide through. If it's not him, how do you feel about Eli Harold from Virginia? Is it too early for him at 24? Who are the corners on the board at this point. The LSU kid? The Washington kid? Are they ranked higher than the highest edge guy? So I think that becomes the conversation, is if we're not going running back, then is it the corner, is it the edge, or did a wideout sneak through somewhere that we really love.
Talking about the 49ers and when you look to their defense and the need to replenish a lot of their talent, what options do you like in terms of their defensive front seven that might be available, starting at 15?
To me the logical pick for them at 15, they sit there, they need front three help and I think Arik Armstead, the kid from Oregon is the prototype; and he's 6'7", 290. He just turned 21 years old. His best football is ahead of him, and I think he's a perfect fit for what they need. Justin Smith, if he does stay retired, even if he doesn't, what a great prototype for Arik Armstead to have in the room. Darnell Dockett is 33 coming off ACL. So I think at 15 that makes a lot of sense. And then you're coming back at 46, and you're probably looking for an inside linebacker at that point, with all the attrition there. And the inside linebackers would be any one of kind of, do you like Paul Dawson, Eric Kendricks, Stephone Anthony, Denzel Perryman or Benardrick McKinney, which of those guys are available and which one of those guys fits what you do.
One more thing, there's talk that the Niners need wide receivers. They spent a lot to get Torrey Smith. Do you think that eases off any pressures for them to get a wide receiver in the first round or two?
Again, it's the deepest position in the draft, and I think they definitely need a wide receiver in the first three rounds, okay, so Torrey Smith is an explosive, deep threat, which is great. Anquan Boldin is 34 years old, and then after that, you're hoping. So from my perspective, yeah, I think at 46 or 79 especially, if you take the D linemen first, you've got to come back and have a plan at 46 or 79 to get a wide out, because I think they need one.
My question is about Eric Rowe. I just wanted to get your assessment of him, and in your opinion does he have the intangibles to warrant being a late first round pick?
Eric Rowe is a really fun conversation, and I've talked to a lot of teams about him. Teams have really split. I happen to like him a lot and I've got him ranked in my top 50. I'm higher than a lot half the league thinks he's a third round pick. The teams that like him like I do, then they go to another level and say, okay, if he's a top 40 or 50 pick, is he a corner or a safety, and where is their value? The way I look at Eric Rowe in today's pass first league is I don't care if you call him a corner other a safety. If he can do one job and do it well, that is matching up with Kelvin Benjamin one week outside and a Rob Gronkowski the next week inside if he can do that one job, he's got a completely different value, which for me would be somewhere late first round. Now, I'm not convinced he can do that one job, but that's a conversation. Even if he can't cover both those guys back to back weeks, I feel very strongly he's a second round corner. He's got length. He could play safety, which he played before. I think there's no way he gets out of the second round, and if he went early in that second round, it wouldn't surprise me at all.
The Seahawks being at 63, obviously they've got to wait a long time, assuming they don't make a move, and they've been pretty open about offensive linemen probably being something they need. Are there a couple of guys you could pinpoint that would seem like obvious fits for what they do and given their track record of the kind of guy they maybe looking at there?
Sure. If Laken Tomlinson from Duke was there, I think he'd be a heck of a pick. That would be my No. 1 pick for them at 63 as far as an interior lineman. A couple other names that would be in that range, AJ Cann from South Carolina can play center and guard. I think Tre Jackson from Florida State has been sliding a little bit, and I don't even think he's going to go in the second round. I think he's a guy that they would like down the road a little bit later in their draft. I think they have three fourth round picks if I remember, and I think he'd be a logical guy late in the fourth round. Two other names would be Mitch Morse from Missouri who played tackle and will be a guard, and Ali Marpet, the Division III kid from Hobart what's kind of an intriguing developmental inside prospect.
My question, I just wanted to see what you thought of the prospects of a Houston wide receiver Deontay Greenberry, a five star guy that came out early, and since you already hit on Christian Covington from Rice, I believe you saw them play Notre Dame in the first game last year. Anybody other than Covington stick out in your mind as far as draftable guys like a Jordan Taylor or Bryce Callahan?
They're two kids I like. I`m not sure either one of them is getting drafted. I don't think the wide receiver is getting drafted, but he`s long, he's got good ball skills, he`s tougher than he looks for as lean as he is. He's probably a priority free agent, but if he gets his head on straight as far as special teams and committing to playing special teams first he's got a chance of playing somewhere. The Callahan kid is a quick footed corner, smart, will tackle, again , probably a priority free agent, but I think it's almost the same conversation. Priority free agent needs to commit to special teams, but down the road could he play corner with his quick feet and his ability to tackle? Yeah. And I think the other kid you asked about was the Houston wide receiver?
There has not been any kind of buzz on him at all, and I haven't even looked at him in months. I couldn't even tell you where he fits. He is a priority free agent and I have not watched his tape in a while. If I remember correctly, he came out, had another year of eligibility, and we all kind of wondered why he was coming out, because he's not going to get drafted.
Which way do you see the Bears going at No. 7? Do you think they're better off going with a wide receiver, assuming Kevin White or Amari Cooper are available, or should they go defense no matter what?
Yeah, that's a great question because I think it's a right question, and it depends on how their board lays out. It's either you take Cooper or White if they're there versus whoever the highest rated defensive player on their board is. And it would be interesting to know where Danny Shelton is on that board, for instance, and whether or not they would commit to one of the top edge guys at that point, meaning a Beasley, Fowler will be gone, they probably won't touch Gregory that early. That conversation for me, as bad as their numbers are on defense, No. 31 in points allowed, and as bad as that defense was, the fact that they lost the big wide out, and right now they've got Alshon Jeffrey, Eddie Royal, there's been a lot of conversation with Marquise Wilson, but he only hit 17 catches a year ago. If one of those two wide outs were available and you're trying to outscore some people, I'd have zero problem with that. But you've got to compare it, like for instance if AmarI Cooper is there and he's your No. 2 player on the board and the highest rated defensive player is 7, you're probably thinking about taking No. 2 because he's a better football player obviously than No. 7. I think people might be surprised if they go wide out there, but I would not be.
I wonder if you had any insights or thoughts on three Washington State players, Connor Halliday, Vince Mayle or Xavier Cooper.
Yeah, as a matter of fact I kind of like a couple of those guys. Vince Mayle I think it's Mayle, isn't it? Mayle to me is an under appreciated wide receiver. He had some drops against USC, but if you watch his Arizona State tape, I forget, he had 14, 15, 16 catches against Arizona State and even though he ran poorly, I think he ran 4.67 at the combine what I saw on tape was a big, physical wide out that got off press and caught the ball naturally with his hands. I think he's underappreciated, undervalued. He's probably going to go somewhere in the fifth or sixth round, but to me he's worth a fourth round pick. He's got some developmental upside. Xavier Cooper is a similar conversation. I like that kid. I think he's got great vision for a defensive lineman, has an ability to stack, shed, and get to the football. I like him probably higher than a lot of the league. I've got him with a late third round grade. I think he's going in the fourth round. And then finally, the quarterback, I felt badly watching his tape. He's so skinny, he's got to run around in the shower to get wet. He was getting tattooed game after game, but he throws with some anticipating and timing. He's got some length and size to him, he's got to hasten the process, but he's one of those prototypical NFL type quarterbacks. I think he could get drafted late and be a developmental guy.
For the Ravens what do you think are the most likely draft scenarios for them at 26 and I want to ask you about Stephon Diggs and Kevin Johnson.
Yeah, Kevin Johnson I love. Could be the cleanest overall corner in the draft, has been rising up boards. He can play inside, outside. He tackles, he's physical enough, not overly physical, but physical enough. I think he's going to go somewhere I would say, call it 16 to 25, somewhere in that range, really solid football player and as the defensive back coaches have gotten involved, he's gotten pushed up a little bit. The coaches love him because he's also an intelligent kid. Stephon Diggs is intelligent with the ball in his hand. I think he's probably going to go in the fourth or fifth round, and obviously the key for him is finding him touches, whether it's in the return game or the pass game. As far as the Ravens, where they are Ozzie and those guys are great at moving around the draft board, typically down. They always have a plan, and they do an unbelievable job of developing fourth and fifth round picks. It's just incredible to watch what they do with the Pernell McPhees and the Paul Krugers and they then trust that they can let those guys go to free agency and come back and develop more guys like that. I look at them and think in the first round I'm guessing it's going to be corner, running back or wide receiver, depending on who the highest rated guy is. They trust their board. They don't go off need. They trust their board, and they're going to go with the highest rated guy that makes sense to them. Whether it's a tailback if he's there or if one of those wide outs slides to them, a Kevin Johnson, a hometown boy would make sense. I think like usual, they'll have their options, and one of them will be moving down.
I'd like to get your thoughts on three players who played high school ball here in Kenosha. You've touched on Trae Waynes and Melvin Gordon a little bit, but also Zac Epping, a guard out of Minnesota. What do you see as those guys' biggest upsides and which teams do you see as the most likely fits for them?
The guard out of Minnesota I haven't even done because he's got a priority free agent grade, so I don't even know much about him. And as far as the other two guys, who were they?
Waynes and Gordon.
Yeah, from my position, they're two outstanding football players. I mean, Gordon is a guy that I already said reminds me of Jamaal Charles. I think the running back interest probably starts around 17 with San Diego to 24 with Arizona, to 26 Baltimore, to 27 Dallas, 32 even New England. So 17 to 32, I think two running backs could go. If one went before that it wouldn't stun me. But I think Melvin Gordon is a first round pick all day long. Waynes is my No. 1 corner. The corners probably won't start as early as usual. The earliest I could see him going is seventh to Chicago. Perhaps 11 to Minnesota, New Orleans 13, Miami 14, Philly 20, somewhere in there. Anywhere from probably 11 to 20 is where I think Waynes goes.
Who would you compare Waynes to?
He's a long press corner. I really don't have a comp right now.
I just wanted to ask you a couple questions about some of these Longhorns. The first thing I wanted to ask was about Malcom Brown, the defensive tackle, and sort of how you see him fitting in and what's your projection of him as whether you see him as someone that can only play in a 4 3 in a three technique, and then also some of the guys who are projected to go probably a little later in the draft or possibly undrafted, Cedric Reed, the running back Malcolm Brown, and the wide receiver John Harris, where you see those three going in the draft and if you have any thoughts on that.
Yeah, from my perspective, Malcom Brown is a first round pick from a defensive line perspective. He probably goes somewhere between best case San Francisco at 15, Cincinnati could have a need at 21, Detroit at 23. He can play the three technique or a nose shade. I think he's big enough to do that. But what's good about him is in addition to being stout against the run, he can also push the pocket. At defensive end, Reed is probably a guy that didn't develop as well as people probably thought he would over time. He's a late draftable guy. Has some talent and he has some length, but he's a base end in a 4 3. And who's the last one?
I was also going to ask you about Malcolm Brown the running back and John Harris the wide receiver.
Yeah, Malcolm Brown the tailback is late draftable, fifth, sixth, seventh round. The guy I kind of like who you didn't mention was Quandre Diggs, the corner. I think the cover two teams like him. I think he's a tough kid. I think he tackles. He's just short and doesn't have great speed. So he gets dinged on that, but I still think he's going to get drafted in the fifth or sixth round and compete at the nickel. And the Harris kid, the wide receiver I have as a priority free agent.
At the end of the day do you think it will be Winston, Mariota going one, two, maybe not just Mariota two to the Titans, and because of the way RG3 has struggled and the bounties that the Rams got, will it be harder for the Titans to leverage that kind of ransom for Mariota?
Yeah, I do, and I'm assuming Winston is going 1. I said this earlier on this call. I think it's going to be very difficult for a team to get up to 2 without a quarterback to trade, and unless it's somebody coming from 5 or 6. I don't think the Eagles can get from 20 to 2 unless Sam Bradford is involved or San Diego 17 to 2, which is I'm sure the one Tennessee would love to do, but San Diego would hate it unless it's a last case scenario. If you're talking about pure draft picks and trying to get up there and do a deal at 2, I agree with you. I think the RG3 thing has blown up a little bit in Washington's face, and the second piece of that question is if you go back to Andrew Luck and RG3, the perception was these were two special players, not just really good potential franchise quarterbacks, but special, once every five to ten year kind of players, and I don't think we get the same vibe off Winston and Mariota, and I don't have Mariota up there like that. I only have Winston up there like that. From my perspective, giving up the house to get up to No. 2 doesn't make sense.
Who's your best defensive player between Fowler and Williams, and who would you take first and why?
I've got Leonard Williams No. 1 on my board and Dante Fowler No. 2, so that kind of answers that question. You know, the old you take the bigger big man (laughing). But Leonard Williams can play all four or five defensive line positions, and I think the difference there is he's a 300 pound guy that can make the difference in both the run and pass game. Now, in a pass first league, Dante Fowler is really close because he's 261 pounds, he can set a physical edge, but most importantly, he's gifted in the pass game. Trust me, for me they're 1 and 1 A, and they're both really special players.
The Eagles need safety help and this isn't a very good safety draft. Ed Marynowitz was talking today about looking at bigger corners who could cross train and play bigger safety. In your mind who are second or third day corners right now that could be potential safeties in their scheme?
Yeah, first of all, I think the first safety in this class is different than what most people think, and the first safety off the board is going to be, in my opinion, Damarious Randall from Arizona State, and he's by far the best cover safety in this draft, and two months ago he was considered a third or fourth round pick. Now he's a first round pick, and he's going ahead of Landon Collins because Collins is more of a box safety or a dime linebacker so that leads back to your question about it's such a bad safety class, and it is, which corners can convert over, and the guys that make the most sense are Eric Rowe from Utah, who I've got a second round grade on regardless of where you play him, corner or safety, and he played both in college; Quinten Rollins, the basketball player who played one year at corner for Miami of Ohio; I moved him over into my safety list, and I think he's going to go in the second round as a safety; Alex Carter from Stanford, and he's got height, weight, speed, and again, if he can do that one job of coming inside and covering tight ends, he's got a high value. Some down the line guys, Nick Marshall, the quarterback from Auburn; Jimmy Wilson, Oklahoma, corner; Ladarius Gunter, a corner from Miami. Those are guys late in the draft, those last three guys, Adrian Amos from Penn State, another guy. Teams are looking far and wide for safeties because the class itself is so bad, one, and number two, because the league has changed. It's a pass first league, and safeties are expected to cover first, and you'll give up a little physicality and tackling for that.
I wanted to ask you about a couple Michigan guys. First off, Fred Clark, I know he had some issues. What's your read on him or where maybe he falls?
Yeah, because of that significant off the field incident, I think he got significantly downgraded to the point where he wasn't going to get drafted. Now, the legality of that has come out, it's been downgraded a little bit. I still think at best he's going to be a late draftable guy, fifth, sixth, seventh round. He's got some explosion. He's got surprisingly long arms for his size, and I think there will be some interest in him as an edge guy.
Devin Gardner making the switch to receiver, he's done some of that in college, is he somebody that could be conceived as a pick or is he an undrafted free agent?
I've been really surprised at the way this kid has not generated much interest. I saw him at the East West game and he was playing wide out, and obviously it's pretty new to him, so he didn't look great, but he's athletic. He's a big, athletic guy. I've been really surprised at the lack of interest in Devin Gardner. I think he's probably a priority free agent, but in my mind, you know, he's a guy that's going to have to be a core special teams player to earn the time to learn how to play a new position, and whether he's a sixth round pick or a free agent, it's the same philosophy, he's going to have to be a special teams player first.
Quick question about the Panthers, obviously at 25 everyone is kind of mocking them without an offensive tackle or a receiver. Gettleman, he really likes his defensive linemen. Where do you see them there for the Panthers at 25?
I always say that when you're down there near the bottom, you've got to be versatile, and it can't just always be about needs. I do think, however, that this draft is going to match up with their tackle needs. I mentioned earlier that I think some really gifted tackles are going to slide down towards the bottom of the first round just because they're concerned about their games, and they're raw, they're young, et cetera. Sitting at 25, any one of the following tackles could be there: Ereck Flowers, D.J. Humphries, Andrus Peat, TJ Clemmings, all those guys could be there. Now, if you didn't like any of them, then obviously you could look at corner, you could look at wide receiver, and I do believe this is a team that even signing Ted Ginn needs another wide receiver. Kelvin Benjamin was outstanding, but they've got to beef that up. If they took a wide out in one, a wide out in two, either way, I think it makes most sense to say we're going to make, say, a tackle at 25 and a wide out at 57. But you've got to just wait and see how the board presents itself.
And one quick follow up on Humphries, a very athletic tackle, I don't think he has any tape over 285 pounds at Florida. What are teams going to get out of him if he's over 300 pounds? Does that change dramatically?
It's actually more of a concern. He played at 287 or so, and he's a gifted foot tackle. He's got great feet. He's got starting left tackle feet. However, he was told he needed to be heavier, he showed up at the combine at 307, and he showed up at his pro day at 307, and I'm not sure he can carry it and I'm not sure it's great weight. You're 100 percent correct, that's one of the concerns is when you draft him in the first round, what are you really getting? Is it the 307 pound kid who's a little sloppy, or what it probably is at the end of the day in great shape and ready to go is probably about a 290 pound left tackle that's going to be an outstanding pass protector and is always going to have to work with great technique to be a good run blocker.
You mentioned Eric Rowe earlier, but I'm wondering about your thoughts on two other guys from Utah, Jeremiah Poutasi as well as Nate Orchard. It seems like Orchard is slipping a bit. Kind of your scouting report on them?
I'm kind of high on these kids, and I don't think Nate Orchard is slipping. My perception is that 3 4 teams like him more than the 4 3 teams do just because of the scheme fit. Every time I talk to it's just amazing how many coaches tell you, wow, couldn't block No. 8. Every week, couldn't block No. 8. The offensive linemen in the Pac 12, who's the best guy you played against? Nate Orchard, best guy we played against. Even though he's not twitchy and he didn't run great times, I think he innately understands how to rush a quarterback, how to set up an offensive tackle, and I think he's got naturally heavy hands. That's the thing I've heard from offensive linemen across the country. This guy just grabs you and shakes you to your core. I think he's going in the second round. I really like the kid and I think he's good fit for a 3 4 team. Poutasi, I'm high on him, also. I think most of the league feels like he should have stayed in school, but if I'm not mistaken he's still 20 years old. He's raw as can be, a little bit heavy footed. I look at him best case scenario as a right tackle, he's probably going to end up kicking inside where he can take advantage of that strength. He probably will go in the fourth or fifth round. I kind of have a late third round grade on him because I believe in him down the road, but he's 20 years old, his best football is in front of him, but he has to go to a team that's a gap scheme kind of run mauler type team.
I want to get your take on a couple Colorado State guys and see why has Garrett Grayson kind of moved up your rankings since the initial ones, and also just a couple of defensive draft hopefuls with Aaron Davis and Bernard Blake and if you can see either of them going in the draft?
Yeah, and you're probably and Ty Sambrailo is also an interesting guy to tackle, probably a third round pick. For me Garrett Grayson, the more tape I watched, the more I felt like I appreciated his game. He's one of the few quarterbacks you can see that throws with anticipation, his timing, throws people open. He doesn't overwhelm you with physical traits. Kind of average sized, pretty good arm, pretty good athlete. But when you add all the individual parts together, the components all fit really well. Do I think he's a dynamic starting NFL quarterback? Probably not, but I think he's going to play in the league a lot of years. The linebacker Davis has a priority free agent grade, as does Blake.
I've got two questions: First of all, how many guys from Florida State do you have a draftable grade on?
I don't know off the top of my head. There's got to be 10 or 12.
Kind of going along those lines, among the college football programs that have recruited so well nationally in the last three or four years, Alabama and Southern Cal, teams like that, is there anything that sets Florida State apart with what they've done?
Well, I think what they've done is they're sitting in the middle of maybe the best state in the country, and they've done a great job recruiting in their home state. They've done a nice job developing their athletes, and if I'm not mistaken, if they get, what, 10 players are drafted this year, it will be the best three year number in the history of the modern seven round draft; is that correct?
Yeah, I think that's right.
I mean, I go back to those great Miami teams in the early 2000s where it was first rounder after first rounder after first rounder, and while Florida State hasn't had quite as many first round picks as that Miami group did back then, I think rounds 1 through 7 and just the sheer volume of athletes they've been able to recruit and develop certainly puts them in the top echelon of the country.
I wanted to ask you about Rashad Greene, wide receiver out of Florida State. He's a guy that's obviously undersized in terms of prototypical NFL wide receiver, but is he the kind of guy with his work ethic and his ability to run those routes, is he a guy that teams could possibly fall in love with earlier in the draft?
Here's the deal with Rashad Greene: Considered to be one of the safest picks in the draft, love his route running, love his hands, his toughness. Really like everything about him. The one question really is when you've got a guy that's 5'11", 182, and by the way, the word is he's under 180 now, so if he's 180 or 178 and runs 4.53 there's some concerns there. He's just really slight, what kind of durability he's going to have. Can he mix it up with the big guys, can he handle it. My answer would be he did it at Florida State at the highest level and continued to play and be productive, but I think he's going in the third round. Could he slide into the second with a team that loves him? Sure, but remember, this again is the deepest position in this draft.
Here in Tampa they're way down the road on Jameis apparently, locked and loaded, and the character and the off field stuff, I'm curious, one question is how do you feel? Where are you on Jameis, character, off field, and second, in your experiences how many times have you seen a guy with red flags, with issues, get all that money, all that attention, and to a certain extent, all that entitlement and turn their lives around?
Interesting question, and where I am is pretty well documented. I've got Mariota one because I do believe in Marcus Mariota, but the other piece of that is as far as Jameis Winston is concerned, I've got trust issues, both on and off the field. Do I trust him with the football on the field, given the way he turned the ball over, especially this year with 18 interceptions that could have been 40 very easily, so can I trust him with the ball, which is the most important thing during an NFL game, and then No. 2, can I trust him off the field. To me, those red flags are significant enough that my answer is I would go the other way with Mariota, and I have to put my hand up and say I missed that last year on Manziel, and I'm upset with myself for that, kind of just ah, he's an immature kid, and that leads into your second question, which is when kids have significant red flags, how often do they change, and I would say my perception in my experience is that plus or minus 90 percent of the time, the kid ultimately turns into who he's always been. When you get a repeated pattern of bad decisions, you might be on your best behavior leading up to the draft, you've got all kinds of people around you telling you what to say and how to act, but once you get comfortable, whether it's one year in, two years in, three years in, once you get comfortable again in the NFL and you get paid, typically that kid goes back to being who he always was.
I wanted to get your thoughts about how after the rookie weight scale was instituted in 2010, the number of underclassmen declaring for the draft then reached record levels the next five years, and I'm curious what you think prompted that. Was it the set four year contracts and the potential to get to that second deal a little more quickly, or was it something else?
Well, I think you hit on it. I think what happened was when they reduced the money to rookies in the top eight or ten picks significantly, I think a lot of the agents kind of went out there to the underclassmen and started to preach a new mantra, which was basically, hey, don't worry about that last year. It's more important to get into camp and learn your craft in the NFL while you're getting paid, and getting to that second contract a year earlier. And I think a lot of kids bought into it, and my take on that whole thing is while it may be advantageous to a few, I think it's hurt the many, and I think there's a lot of kids that think they're getting drafted in the first three rounds that don't, and it's easy to say, hey, let's just get to the second contract. The problem is getting there, and you've got a lot better chance getting there if you get drafted higher as a senior and you're older, you're more mature, you're bigger, you're more physical than if you come out a year early. I feel really badly for these kids that aren't making it because they're coming out too soon.
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