3 reasons why CougFans should watch NFL Draft

PETE CARROLL today renews his annual search (otherwise known as the NFL draft) for that big, physical outside wide receiver. Could Carroll find what has eluded his Seattle Seahawks over the years in the later rounds and in Vince Mayle out of Washington State? Mayle is one of three Cougars likely to hear his name called between now and Saturday night.

In addition to Mayle, defensive tackle Xavier Cooper and quarterback Connor Halliday will have NFL homes in the coming days. Cooper and Mayle are virtual locks to be drafted, and Halliday figures to be a late-round draft choice or, at worst, a coveted undrafted free agent signee.

Why Mayle (6-2, 224) to the Seahawks would make sense: Seattle lacks the outside threat who can consistently get open, Carroll loves a big, physical outside receiver and Seattle wideout Paul Richardson is 50-50 to begin the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Seattle has an NFL-high 11 picks in the draft and they’re expected to use at least a couple of them on receivers. The Seahawks have three picks in the fourth (Nos. 112, 130 and 134) and two in the fifth (Nos. 167 and 170). If the Seahawks are indeed high on Mayle, this is where he’s likeliest to be taken.

CBS/NFLDraftScout pegs Mayle as a fourth- or fifth-round pick, likely due to his average 40 times and the nation-leading 19 drops he had last season. But Mayle’s combination of size, speed and production stands apart despite the extremely deep WR field, and it will be a mild surprise from this end if he lasts beyond the fourth.

Meanwhile, Cooper (6-3, 293) figures to be the first Cougar selected.

But the draft forecasts vary, pegging him to go anywhere between late in the second round to the fourth.

The Kansas City Star’s Terez Paylor calls him a “super-quick, penetrating tackle ... one of the more pleasant surprises I uncovered in my draft research.” A Kansas City television station, KCTV, thinks he might be a fourth-round pick. CBS/NFLDraftScout rates Cooper as the No. 9 DT and a second- or third-round pick.

Meanwhile, Tony Pauline of Draft Insider reported, "I'm told if the Detroit Lions target a defensive tackle in round two the player at the top of their list is Xavier Cooper, who they feel is a perfect fit for their system.”

ESPN pegs eight teams who have a need at QB in this draft. Halliday (6-3, 196) is ranked No. 9 by ESPN.

CBS/NFLDraftScout has Halliday as their No. 8 QB and a 6-7 round choice.

“I hope he’s not under-drafted, but whatever team takes him is going to be very pleased,” Mike Leach said on Thursday. “He has a better arm than anyone in the draft, ball comes off his hand better than anyone in draft.”

We expect Halliday to hear his name called by the end of the sixth round but if not, it might be best for him not to be drafted at all. An undrafted free agent can choose the team and system that he’s most comfortable with and the trend in recent years has been for more and more undrafted free agents to succeed in the NFL.

2015 NFL Draft:
• Round 1: Thursday, April 30, 5 p.m. PT
• Rounds 2-3: Friday, May 1, 4 p.m.
• Rounds 4-7: Saturday, May 2, 9 a.m.

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