Mike is a part of our nine-person crew broadcasting from Radio City Music Hall for the NFL Draft this year. Day one of NFL Network's coverage begins at 11:00 a.m. eastern with a four-hour pre-Draft show and with Dolphins on the clock at 3:00 p.m. eastern.
Before I turn it over to Mike, I just want to make a quick announcement: We will be having another conference call with NFL Network Executive Producer Eric Weinberger, Steve Mariucci, and two newest members of our Draft team, Brian Billick and Charley Casserly on Monday, April 21st, at 2:00 p.m. ET.
We will have more information on that call with the numbers and details coming your way shortly.
With all that said, I'll turn it over to Mike to begin with a general statement with his feelings on how the Draft has grown in his tenure as a Draft Analyst and the differences that he's seen throughout the years.
So, go ahead, Mike.
MIKE MAYOCK: Thank you, Brenna. I know everybody's very busy. I'll make my comments as brief as possible. I'm just amazed at the interest generated by events like the Combine and the Draft. It's grown incrementally. I get stopped everywhere I go, people asking about a 40-yard-dash time or what happened at the Combine, who are the Eagles going to take. The interest is amazing.
Regarding this particular Draft, I think it's real deep, deeper than the last three or four years, through about 75 picks. So if you're picking 1 through 75 and have multiple picks 1 through 75, you're in real good shape. I think it tails off after that, not as strong at the bottom end as it has been the last couple years, and I think in the top 10, it's a very strong class, but I don't think it's got maybe the superstar nature of last year's where you had a Joe Thomas step in, play at a Pro Bowl level, and an Adrian Peterson step in and play immediately at a Pro Bowl level.
So I don't see either of those two guys in this class. So without further ado, let's open it up for questions and get this thing going.
Q. Mike, you and Mel Kiper have become the preeminent coalition aficionados of the Draft. I'm wondering whether you feel any sense of competition with Mel?
MIKE MAYOCK: I have known Mel for a lot of years, and we go back to doing a Senior Bowl game together in the mid '90s for ESPN. He was actually the Draft Analyst, I was the sideline reporter. So we go back a long way. I think there's a lot of mutual respect. I'd be lying if I told you that I don't notice what his mock draft might say, you know, his last mock draft. I don't really care about all the ones leading up.
But I check out what he does, especially as it relates to differences of opinion, because if we have the same opinion, obviously it really doesn't matter.
So, yeah, I do take a look at some of that stuff, but at the end of the day, what's most important to me is the respect I get from people in the National Football League.
Q. As a follow-up, Mike, do you have a built-in advantage working in a sense for the NFL? Does it give you more of a carte blanche, do you feel, than other people who may be analyzing?
MIKE MAYOCK: The one thing I know about football people, I'm a son of a football coach, they don't just give things away gratuitously. I think you kind of have to earn the respect from the football people. To me, I don't look at this as television. I don't look at it as media. I look at my job, and I mirror what the NFL does. I start in July watching tape just like they do for next year's seniors.
I go through a very similar process that they do, and I think what I try to do is earn respect from all 32 teams for being a football guy and not a television guy. And because of that, I think people trust me, and I trust them, and I think that's why I have a pretty good flow of information.
Q. Hi, Mike, how are you doing. I've got two questions. One, I'm curious on your thoughts about what's going to happen at the top of the Draft. Obviously, there's been a lot of different names thrown out there, the Dolphins considering different people, the reports about Jake Long. What do you see happening with the number 1 pick, and do you think Chris Long is still in that mix? And then the second question, separately, is about Jon Stewart, the running back, I want to get your impressions about him.
MIKE MAYOCK: Sure, at the top end of the Draft, there couldn't be a guy that would provide more intrigue than Bill Parcells. I played for the guy. I will tell you one thing, you can pretty much be assured that the first pick will be signed prior to 3:02 on Saturday, April 26th.
He's negotiating, all the publicity is that it's Jake Long. I very strongly believe that he's got two or three guys he's negotiating with concurrently and he's going to try and get somebody to take a blow market deal, which will then put the pressure back on the agent and the player. But if you're sitting at number 1 and there are two or three guys that you think are all about the same guy as far as level of player, then -- and that's kind of what I think he sees -- then I think it behooves him to try to make a blow market deal, give him the ridiculous dollars at the top end of the Draft. That's point number one.
Point number two with Jonathan Stewart is this is a 238-pound tailback that ran 4.5, highly-productive, played through pain, through injuries, great balance, stays on his feet through hits. My only knock on him after watching a bunch of tape is I don't see a second gear; I don't see him stick his foot in the ground and all of a sudden accelerate to a different level. I think he's going to be a very good back in the League, I just don't see any backs this year that are anywhere comparable to, say, Adrian Peterson.
Q. That's saying a lot. Just to follow up. Back to Chris Long for a second and where he might figure in the Dolphins playing. How legitimate of an option do you think he is for them?
MIKE MAYOCK: I think he's very legitimate and I think he'd be one of the logical two or three people they're talking to. I think the beauty of Chris Long - and everybody talks about his over - and that's kind of overplayed, because you kind of -- I think you disrespect the kid when you kind of label him as an overachiever. He's an achiever with freakish athletic ability. The thing I really like about him is you are a defensive coordinator, he gives you ultimate scheme versatility. He can line up with his hand down, he can stand up and play rush line backer, you could line him up in the A gap. In certain situations, you can line him up at nose tackle or the three technique. So this is a guy who, really, the defensive coordinator will be constrained solely by his own imagination, and that's pretty cool in today's day and age in the NFL.
Q. Two questions on Clemson prospects, the first on Phillip Merling. I don't know whether you thought his sports hernia injury affected his stock. I wondered if you could you talk about the left tackle, Barry Richardson, and how his stock has gone down over the course of a year or two and why.
MIKE MAYOCK: Phillip Merling, to me, is one of the most intriguing questions in this year's Draft. The reason is, he's going to be healthy for the season. Matter of fact, he's going to be healthy for training camp. So all 32 NFL teams know they're going to get a healthy player despite the fact that he just had sports hernia surgery.
The problem is, all 32 teams are so heavily dependent on the measurables, the 40, the 10, the vertical jump, all that stuff, and they're not going to get a chance to test this kid.
To me, he's a top 15 player in this Draft. He ought to go somewhere 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, somewhere in there where his true value is. If he falls beyond that into the 20s, I think it's directly attributable to the fact that teams are nervous about him because they can't test him.
And a couple years ago he had the same thing happen to Heath Miller, the tight end from Virginia, he tumbled all the way to the end of the first round with the Pittsburgh Steelers. And I remember talking to Bill Cowher right after that who was giggling and laughing and saying, Can you believe he fell all the way to us.
So I think it's really intriguing because they've got two good years of tape on this kid, but they're still going to want to see the measurables. He's an interesting guy to track in the first round.
And then the second question was Barry Richardson. You know, I think ultimately, these guys find their level, and I'm not sure he's fallen. When you're a big guy like that and play in a big BCS Conference and you play well and start early and you make All ACC, everybody thinks you're going to be a great pro; that's not necessarily the case. Barry Richardson is a big guy, but he doesn't have great feet. If you don't have great feet, you're going to struggle as a left tackle in the NFL.
So I think it's more Barry Richardson ultimately ending up where he was going to anyway despite all the early hype in his career.
MIKE MAYOCK: Yeah, I mean, you're talking about two guys I really like. I think Carlson got unfairly dinged with the lack of productivity in that Notre Dame offense as a senior. Number two, he had a virus and did not perform well at the Combine. He worked out better at his workout. He's a little bit of an old-school tight end that I think is going to go probably early to mid second round. Good in-line blocker, better receiver than people generally give him credit for. I think he's going to - barring injury - he's that guy that's going to play eight or ten years in the NFL at a fairly high level.
Trevor Laws is really interesting to me because he's barely six feet. He had 112 tackles as a senior. I think he blocked six kicks in his career, a nose tackle that blocked six kicks at six feet height. That tells you he understands football, leverage and gives 100% effort all the time. I call him the energizer bunny. I think he's a solid second round pick.
Q. Top pick, Mike, what do you think are the two, three biggest dramas, the wild card so to speak, in this Draft?
MIKE MAYOCK: I think the second quarterback is intriguing, number one. I think we're all assuming Matt Ryan goes somewhere in the top eight, yet there are four or five teams that need a quarterback in that top eight. Interestingly enough, three of the last four years, a team that didn't take a quarterback in the first round has traded back up to get at the end of the first round and get their guy, latest being Brady Quinn last year. I think it's going to happen again.
I think a team that doesn't get Matt Ryan in the first round is going to sit there and say, okay, like Atlanta. If Atlanta doesn't take him at three, they have three second round picks. Are they going to wait to take a Flacco or a Henne or a Brohm or jump the gun and make sure they get ahead of Miami or anybody else?
To me, I really like that whole question.
Number two is who's going to be the second offensive tackle. We all know about Jake Long. Branden Albert, the guard from Virginia, has thrown his hat in the ring as a tackle. He could be a top ten pick, and he could jump ahead of Clady and Otah. I think those are a couple of really interesting questions.
Thirdly, I don't like this year's tight end wide receivers. I don't have any of them with a first round grade personally. That doesn't mean there won't be two or three guys taken in the first round, but I think how and where those wide receivers fall are going to be really interesting.
Q. Last one, Mike. Focused on the top, but day two is different. Who would be the two guys that would maybe be most intriguing to you on that second day?
MIKE MAYOCK: You mean at the top of the third round?
Q. Yeah, yeah, thereabouts.
MIKE MAYOCK: I think first, to me, would be because the corner class is so deep, I'd be interested to see what corners slip through that first day. You know, I think there are going to be four or five in the first round. I actually like the second batch of corners better, and I think one or two of them -- like if an Antwaun Molden from Eastern Kentucky ever got through the first day, there would be a buzz like you couldn't believe around the NFL of people trying to get that first pick on day two.
So Antwaun Molden would be really interesting to me. He's got all measurables of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the only difference is he didn't play in the Senior Bowl. Same conference, same kind of kid. He's interesting. That whole corner position is interesting to me. It's kind of the same thing with the wide receivers. I don't like them, but I'd rather get a guy in the second or third round. And watching teams like an Early Doucet from LSU, if he got through the first day, he does everything well, but he's timed poorly. If Early Doucet got into the third round, same thing; people would be all over him.
Q. In terms of the quarterbacks overall, can you draw a comparison between this Draft and the 2005 Draft?
MIKE MAYOCK: I would tell you that Matt Ryan, and if you read or hear anything I say, I think Matt Ryan is a true franchise quarterback, whereas I didn't think that of those three guys.
Matt Ryan, to me, is -- well, I don't even need to get into Matt Ryan just a comparison. Then I look at a guy like Joe Flacco from Delaware. He reminds me a little bit of a Jason Campbell even though he came out of a 1-AA school because he's got a big arm. Jason Campbell, if I remember correctly, had four or five offensive coordinators in college. Flacco transferred from Pittsburgh to 1-AA Delaware. Nobody knew about him until this year. I went out and watched him practice. I got a lead from a college director buddy of mine, called me and told me, "You better check this kid out." I'm happy I did. I went and watched practice in October and he blew me away with his arm strength.
This is not a good quarterback class but I would tell you as opposed to that other class, you have a franchise quarterback at the top of it and you've got a guy like Flacco who's going late one to early two, he has the ability - I'm not saying he's going to be this - but he has the capability of being a Pro Bowl quarterback. Jason Campbell had a little bit of that also.
Q. When you see a team like Redskins going --
MIKE MAYOCK: I just made a point about that, a team going up. Somebody's going to fall in love with Joe Flacco's arm. I think the biggest mistake in the quarterback drafting comes with guys getting infatuated with big arms. However, with Flacco, you also have a great work ethic and a kid that wants it badly. So if you're going to take a bet on a kid with some upside, he's not ready to play this year. But if you want to take a bet, he's the kind of kid you want to bet on.
Q. Give me the pros and cons of the defensive end pass rushers you expect to be there at 26 when the Jaguars are picking. Which one do you think they'll wind up taking?
MIKE MAYOCK: You're assuming they're going DE no matter what, huh?
Q. Well, that's the most -- the logical thing. Maybe they'll go somewhere else. But for writing purposes, we're looking for DEs, wondering whether you think at 26 there will be a guy worth taking.
MIKE MAYOCK: I mean, here's what could happen. Long, Gholston and Harvey will be long gone. You probably heard me talking about Phillip Merling early. If Merling is there, I think they ought to jump all over him, because the only reason he will be there is because of the sports hernia surgery.
So if he's there, you get great value. If he's not there, the next guy in line is Calais Campbell from University of Miami. To me, he's a kid that his best foot is down the road a year or two, he's got to grow into those long limbs, he's got to grow into that body. I do think he's going to be a good player at the next level. But he's not that quick twitch, pass rushing defensive end either. He's going to cause some problems with those long arms, and he's a good player, but I think he's a year or two away from really being a very good player.
They're the two guys that are going to be staring you right in the face that you could make a case for taking. After that, I think there's too much of a dropoff with any of the other guys like Lawrence Jackson from USC, Jeremy Thompson from Wake Forest. Any of those guys, it's too big a dropoff. At that point, I think Jacksonville has to trust their board and look elsewhere.
Q. What about a pass rushing line backer, Groves somebody like that?
MIKE MAYOCK: Well, Groves doesn't really fit their system. He's undersized and, yeah, I think he's a reach, too, in the first round at 26, because -- mostly because he's so inconsistent. He's had some off-the-field issues and some work ethic concerns. Is he a really talented kid, yes. Could he put his hand down as a situational pass rusher, yes. If he's going to be a starter in the NFL, though, it's going to be in a three-four as a rush line backer.
But you could make a case for him in Jacksonville as a situational pass rusher.
Q. So everybody -- what about Calais not playing well last year? Is that a problem or not?
MIKE MAYOCK: I think some of that is, if you watch enough tape of the kid, I think you get a feel for what he is. When you start talking about those long limbs and the ability to grow into, you know, you're talking about a 6'7", 290-pound defensive end who's never going to be that quick twitch guy, but he's still going to cause problems, especially if he's lined up on the right offensive tackle. I would kind of discount that, look at the kid. He plays hard and he's going to be a pretty good player in the League, I just don't think he's going to be an All-Pro on a consistent basis.
Q. A ‘quick twitch,’ what's that?
MIKE MAYOCK: A quick twitch is just a term the scouts and coaches use to differentiate a guy who's got a great first step, whether it's a corner or a defensive end or a wide receiver. It's just an ability to get off the line of scrimmage faster than everybody else there by gaining an advantage.
Q. Would you take Campbell or ...
MIKE MAYOCK: If Merling was there, I'd jump all over him. If he wasn't, I would start looking at those safeties a little bit. Was hurt last year, they could upgrade that position. I think if you're in Jacksonville, your goal has got to be to beat Indianapolis. I think you got to get pressure on the quarterback or upgrade your secondary.
So I'd be looking at a corner or safety at 26 also.
Q. This goes back to kind of what you were talking about with the wide receivers. I'd like to include the tight ends with it. It sounds like there isn't first round value at those positions. Everybody talks about the depth of the position. Are you better off in the second and third round at those spots?
MIKE MAYOCK: Well, I didn't say anything about tight ends as far as first round. There's a kid from Purdue, I kind of played with him as far as going to Seattle, this (Dustin) Keller kid from Purdue. You know, at 25, I believe it is, Seattle is, he makes some sense to me. He is an explosive vertical threat, gets up the field, catches the football. He's not a very good blocker. He's kind of a move guy, you have to move him a little bit, play him in a slot like Indianapolis does, for instance. But he's a guy that can make plays on offense and, in my opinion, that's what Seattle needs. They don't have great wide receivers. If they could get a tight end that makes plays, that would help Matt Hasselbeck.
To finish the thought on wide receivers, I think you're better off in the second or third round picking a wide receiver that fits what you do, you're a West Coast team, you're a vertical team, whatever. Get a wide out that fits what you do and understand that most wide receivers take two to three years to acclimate and eventually produce. You're better off paying less money at that position anyway.
Q. So you think Keller, then, is worthy of 25?
MIKE MAYOCK: I do. I mean, I think that's about where his value starts. He could go into the second round. But for the right team that's willing to say we're going to make him a focal point of our offense, yeah, I think he's valuable.
Q. Just wanted to ask you, obviously, about Matt Ryan, another BC player, and Mackenzy Bernadeau. First question about Matt would be, I mean, we all assume he's going to be the first quarterback taken. Is there any reason not to assume that he will not be?
MIKE MAYOCK: I told everybody for about a year now and I think it solidifies it, could he go in my mind anywhere from 1 to 8 and the logical place, if it's not Miami, I think Atlanta is the most logical place at 3. Kansas City has looked at him heavily at 5, the Jets at 6, worst-case scenario, which could be the best case for Matt ironically, to be are the Baltimore Ravens at 8. I don't think he gets that with the Ravens. I think they're closer to being a good team and they've invested some high level Draft picks the last couple years in their offensive line.
Knowing Matt pretty well, what he brings to the table, I'd love to see him go to Baltimore.
Q. Is it because there would be a defense there also that would enable him to come along a little bit slowly?
MIKE MAYOCK: Well, he's the kind of kid, and people don't -- I don't throw this name out there lightly, but he reminds me from an emotional toughness mindset of Peyton Manning. And when Peyton Manning came out of Tennessee, I had done seven or eight of his games for CBS, I watched tape with Peyton Manning, I knew how tough he was emotionally. Matt is the same kid. If he gets beaten up a little bit as a rookie, it's just going to make him better. Peyton Manning went 3-13 as a rookie and 13-3 his second year. I think Matt is the kind of kid that can take a beating, learn from it and continue to move on.
Having said all of those things, Baltimore is a better football team and had a down year last year. I think they're closer to being good. Their defense isn't bad, although dazing a little bit. And he's got a chance to grow with a team that's going to be pretty good in three or four years.
Q. What do you suppose, though, he went from being a guy who's not even on anyone's radar for the Heisman to a person now who's being talked about as not only the number one quarterback in the Draft but, you know, possibly one of the top three spots, four or five picks?
MIKE MAYOCK: Well, you know what, I kind of -- I look at that, and I'll give you a couple points. Number one is when I watched tape last July of the top quarterbacks in the country, it wasn't even close. Matt was the best senior quarterback. Everybody who talked about Brian Brohm in my opinion, it wasn't even close.
So I knew what the kid was and part of the reason that he didn't have a bigger name nationally or with the National Football League is that he played, as you know, his entire junior year with a broken foot which Boston College kept quiet.
And, you know, he's a different kid as a senior with an ability to move around, slide in the pocket and make plays.
Then, secondly, the year before that, they had started Quentin Porter ahead of him when I think they were doing that to show some allegiance for a kid that stayed for a fifth year. Then they replaced Matt half way through that year.
So I think there are a couple reasons why he wasn't on the national radar. But as I said earlier, sooner or later you find the right level. The NFL gets involved, starts studying all this tape, and Matt is clearly the best quarterback.
Q. Gosder Cherilus is a guy also being talked about.
MIKE MAYOCK: Offensive tackle class is really deep. I've got Gholston as the top defensive tackle and going late in the first round. He could go 24, 25, down to 31.
Q. One guy we seem to keep hearing about, too, is the division two player from Bentley, Mackenzy Bernadeau. Do you hear his stock rising?
MIKE MAYOCK: Yeah, he's an athletic kid. Is that division two or three? Isn't Bentley three?
Q. It's two.
MIKE MAYOCK: Okay, my bad.
I only got to see like a game and a half of his tape. He got hurt late in the year. He's an athletic kid, and I think because the interior offensive line draft this year is so bad, which it is the centers and guards, I think he's found a little bit of a niche as a non-Combine guy that could go -- I don't think he's going to go in the fourth round but he could certainly fit into the fifth round without a problem.
Q. General managers try to adhere strictly to the best player available policy. At some point particularly in the early rounds, is there a peril to that because you can get bodies to fill in the later rounds, you're not getting the same athlete in the third round as you might in the first?
MIKE MAYOCK: Well, I'm pretty much a believer in the best athlete available also. Obviously, what you're hoping is that your area of need matches up with the best player on your board, then it's a no-brainer.
My issue would be if you continue to reach for a position of need, you're going to dilute the overall quality of your football team. So if it's close, if you need a corner and you've got an offensive tackle and your board is slightly rated ahead of that corner, yeah, you take the corner. But if there's any kind of gap, I think you have to take the best player on your board and stick to that. I think most of the good teams I believe stick to that with some common sense attached to it.
Q. Just one follow-up to that. How surprised would you be if the Packers were to take a quarterback for their first pick at number 30 overall?
MIKE MAYOCK: Quarterback?
MIKE MAYOCK: I'd be pretty surprised. I really would be. And, you know, you look, you said -- I heard some talk about that, and the kid hasn't even really assumed the starting mantle yet. People are already talking about who's next. When you're talking about, you know, what they have behind him, I can understand taking a quarterback somewhere, but not with the first pick. You know, I think they got some other things they could address.
But, you know, if they're in love with Flacco or something, I get it.
Q. Working on a story on Ryan Clady. He's only played a few years as offensive tackle. Didn't score so well, hurt himself during the Combine. Just wondering why everyone's so high on him. As a follow-up, if you could talk a little bit about his strengths and weaknesses, I'd appreciate it.
MIKE MAYOCK: Sure. The reason everybody is so high on him is because he's a superior athlete, and that's what the NFL looks for in left tackles. And there aren't a lot of superior athletes amongst the 300 to 330 pound set in America.
So when you get a guy with great feet that's 6'7", 6'6", 300-plus pounds, etc., the reason -- he's got such good feet that they feel like they can teach him the technique and he has the potential to be a Pro Bowl offensive tackle.
The fact that he plays different positions doesn't bother them. As a matter of fact, it actually is an attraction to them because they say he already played at this certain level with only a couple years' expense as an offensive tackle, think what's going to happen when we get a hold of him.
So do I think he has some technique deficiencies, yeah. He's a grabber instead of a puncher. Sometimes he doesn't use his feet, he just reaches with his hands and grabs instead of using those great feet he has. But if he gets with a good offensive line coach at the next level, the reason teams really like him is they feel like he can be a dancing ballerina, which is what you need as a left tackle in the NFL.
Q. I know you've got Vernon Gholston going to the Raiders. My question is: Do you think Al Davis is going to be able to resist taking Darren McFadden because he's always so fascinated by these athletes?
MIKE MAYOCK: It's a great question. I asked myself the same question about 30 times. When I do my next mock draft, I don't know what I'm going to do there yet.
But what I would tell you is that you're right about Al Davis, he is infatuated with speed but Gholston is the same kind of freakish athlete for his position than McFadden is at his position.
So when you're talking about 266 pound guy running a 4.65 at the Combine, that's as impressive if not more impressive than Darren McFadden running his 4.3 something. I think Gholston philosophically fits right in with what Al Davis is all about.
Q. Would it surprise you, they have running backs on contract, would it surprise you if they go with McFadden? Also, do you agree with Al Davis's decision 100%?
MIKE MAYOCK: (Laughing). The way I understand Al Davis is that, you know, since the 1960s, it's pretty much been his decision a hundred percent.
Now, I know Lane -- he's getting some better input from Lane, but at the end of the day it's Al's decision in my opinion. The reason -- the two reasons I put Gholston there in my initial mock, was the one reason I already gave you, Gholston is a freak and he does fit Al's philosophy. But number two is what you said about all the money they have tied up in running backs already. So I kind of believe they can get -- they're okay at that position unless Al just falls in love with the explosive game breaker that Darren McFadden supposedly is. If you've ever read or seen what I think about McFadden, you know, I'm not a believer in Darren McFadden, so if he doesn't go 4, I think he probably slides to at least 9 in the Cincinnati Bengals.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about the value board. When you look at the possibility of trading in this year's Draft, do you think that -- is it your experience that teams pretty much go pretty much within the confines of what that value system is? Or is there a lot of flexibility there depending on the round we're talking about?
MIKE MAYOCK: It's pretty interesting because I think there are guys that are programmed to be number guys, numbers guys, and the last couple years that we've televised this thing, and a trade happens, I go right to that value chart to check, cross-check. A lot of times, it is right on or within a couple of percentage points.
However, there's a growing concern throughout the League that that value board is way too heavily weighted with the top end picks, and that if you talk to the teams with top ten picks around the League, most of them are trying to trade down and there are very few partners looking to get back up into it, just because it's way too skewed dollar-wise for these rookies, especially in the top ten.
So I think some teams are looking at modifying that trade chart to reflect the fact that the value is not what it was ten years ago because teams don't want to pay 35 million guaranteed to the first pick. It's too prohibitive if you miss -- if you misevaluate the kids.
So two things. One is that board is getting changed; number two, I think there's still some guys that like to evaluate a little bit more with a gut feeling.
Q. As a follow-up to that, the Jaguars got the fifth and third round picks from Buffalo for Marcus Stroud. If you go by the value board, it could be worth anywhere from 250 to 370 points depending on how you look at it. Could you see them, they got number 58 in the second round, according to that value board, they could use those two picks to trade virtually all the way up to the second round. Could you see them doing it to get a defensive end, particularly if they don't get one in the first round?
MIKE MAYOCK: You're talking about Jacksonville now?
MIKE MAYOCK: The problem is, when you're taking all that and trying to move up, you've got to be in love with somebody because you're giving up two or three picks to go get him. My question to you would be if you're doing that to get to the top end of the second round, who's left in the defensive end position you're going to fall in love with. I'm assuming Long, Gholston, Harvey, Merling and maybe Campbell are all gone. I don't think Campbell is worth going up there and getting, and I think Merling is gone. If Merling should slide all the way because of that sports hernia, he'd be the only guy to even think about doing something like that for.
Q. Wondering, not in particular with this year's Draft, but just in general, what's your feeling on the risk associated with Drafting a receiver in the first round? It seems like there's just not as much reward as you would probably get at other positions. Do you feel that way, and, if so, why?
MIKE MAYOCK: Yeah, I'm a big believer that the running back position and the wide receiver position that you're better off to wait to the second, third, fourth, fifth round and pick a guy that fits your system. Because there are a lot of different flavors out there, there are slot receivers, west coast receivers, there are the vertical outside the number receivers, they all get categorized.
Some guys are good enough to do all of it, obviously. I'd rather spend less money, get a guy that fits my system, because I also know that ultimately, it generally takes two or three years for a wide receiver to develop. I did a study last year, I don't have it in front of me, where I looked at all the All-Pro wide receivers over a couple-year period and went back and checked all their rookie numbers and what I found out was that very, very few of them had been productive as rookies. As a matter of fact, it seemed like the key year was year three. Most of them had a big jump in productivity year three.
I think that just further regenerates my point about why take a guy in the first round, pay him all that money when he's not going to be productive for a while.
Q. Why do you think teams aren't more patient?
MIKE MAYOCK: As far as waiting?
MIKE MAYOCK: Because I think whenever you see a big, beautiful guy that runs fast and can jump 40 inches and, you know -- and I got carried away with Calvin Johnson last year. That's a smart, tough guy that you think can get right on the field and make plays. Now, he had some injuries and everything, but I think when you're looking to solve a problem and if your team needs a wide receiver and you see a guy that fits your system in the first round and he's big and highly productive, you want to believe you can coach him up and get him on the field and get 80 catches out of him. But there's only been three or four rookie whiteouts in the last few years that have had 60 or more catches; Dwayne Bowe was one of them last year.
So I think they're hard to pass up because they're so athletic. You get a guy that all the numbers are right, he's a smart guy and he should fit your system, but, unfortunately, few of them produce year one.
Q. Having said all that, what do you think Tampa Bay is going to do at number 20? I'll preface that by saying do you think Mike Jenkins could be in that spot?
MIKE MAYOCK: Yeah, I think Jenkins could be there. He's kind of an inconsistent corner with a lot of talent. My take on Tampa Bay is despite the fact that John Gruden loves receivers and he loves his offense, I think the loss of Brian Kelly at corner is bigger than people think. And I also question, despite their free agency pickups, who's going to start across from Gaines Adams.
So if I'm Tampa Bay, I'm sitting back going their strength of the first round are corners, offensive tackles and defensive ends. They've got a need at both corner and defensive end so they might get pretty good value at 20 if they sit there, trust their board and take one or two of those positions.
Q. Sort of off the wall with a player, Banks, who didn't work out, do you think he's draftable, is he a guy you look at?
MIKE MAYOCK: I didn't hear the beginning of the question. Are you talking about the Banks kid? James Banks, the kid that didn't work out at Tennessee.
MIKE MAYOCK: Right, right.
Q. Do you even rate him at all?
MIKE MAYOCK: I have not even watched him. I know just from talking to some people around the League he did not have a draftable grade. I think he's going to end up in somebody's camp, but I couldn't tell you I know a whole lot more about him just because he's off most people's radar.
Q. Everybody likes to grade drafts right away, which is kind of ludicrous. Looking back five, ten years, who would you say the top two or three teams that have just done it year after year? Are we talking Indy, New England? How do you look at it? Why are they so good at it?
MIKE MAYOCK: I'll tell you why, I had this discussion the other day as a matter of fact and I'm going to have it the opening of our Draft coverage because we're talking about whether or not the Draft is an art or science. The two people that have done it the best are Bill Belichick in New England and Bill Polian. They do it differently. I'm intrigued by this topic. I think it's cool.
Belichick is a little bit more of a river boat gambler. He knows what kids fit his scheme and doesn't care about anybody else but he's smart enough to know the value of every player in the Draft to the rest of the League. That allows him to move up and down the Draft boards generating more choices. He likes to play poker and still go get his guy when he thinks it's time to get his guy.
Bill Polian is completely different. He says forget the rest of the world, don't care what you think, we're going to identify guys who we think are Indianapolis Colts type people and players and we're going to go get them even if it's a half a round to a round and a half earlier than the League has that kid valued. We're going to make sure we get our guy.
That only works if you're good at what you do, which the Colts and Bill Polian are.
So when they Draft Bob Sanders at the top end of the second round, everybody's going that's too early, he couldn't care less. He's got his guy. So it's two completely different ways to go about it, yet in my opinion, they're two of the most successful in the League.
Q. One thing on that, you mention Bob Sanders, would Dwight Freeney fit that bill?
MIKE MAYOCK: Dwight Freeney would fit that bill. Rest of the League's going he's too small, you kidding me. The Colts have built their whole defense around that philosophy.
Again, Bill Polian said forget the rest of you, I'm doing it my way.
Q. And it works.
MIKE MAYOCK: Yeah.
Q. Just had a follow-up on a couple of Notre Dame players that you mentioned, Carlson and Long. How about Zbikowski and Sullivan, where do you see them?
MIKE MAYOCK: Love Zbikowski. I think his toughness and his belligerant attitude is going to help him. That appeals to certain teams. He's going to be a core special teams player. Whether or not he returns punts, I don't care, but he's going to play every special team, make every tackle. I think he's a good enough strong safety in the right scheme to be a starter down the road.
I think he could go -- I think he's going to be a third round pick. I think there's good value with him there.
Sullivan is another -- this whole Notre Dame class, there are good, smart, tough football players which is what Sullivan is. I think he's going to fit in the second day. More like fifth round area, mid to late fifth round, A, because centers just don't get valued that much. But he's a solid guy who understands the game and has good technique.
Q. A follow-up, NFL teams still look at Charlie (Weis) and say he coached in the NFL a long time, does that help his kids or is that not a factor really?
MIKE MAYOCK: I think where it helps his kids is that he's got some credibility with individual people throughout the League, and that if he has a personal relationship throughout the League with different people, he can sit there and say, look, trust me on this, Zbikowski can play, you need to go get him. And I think certain people will trust him just because he's been there with them before.
And I think that's a bigger trust than other college coaches may have. So that can help the kid, but I wouldn't go too far out on a limb on that one.
Q. I just want to go back to something you said a little earlier. You reference the ridiculous dollars at the top of the Draft. I was wondering, from talking to all your GM friends, how are those picking in the top ten, how would their feelings toward that change over the last couple years with the rising costs and percentage of picks that don't work out in the top ten. Can you talk about the risk/reward factor up there?
MIKE MAYOCK: I'm at the point now with the whole system, you go back 50 years or further, and the whole point was to reward the team with the worst record to keep equitable balance within the League, right?
MIKE MAYOCK: I think we'd all agree with that.
Now, what happens is it actually hurts the team with the worst record because, A, you've got to pay more money for your first pick than anybody in the rest of the League, and, B, if you miss and let's face it, there are a ton of flops in that first round, if you miss with a top five pick, your salary cap is screwed for the next five years because you're paying a ton of cash at one position and you're going to have to go back and pay for it again to get another player.
So everybody I talk to around the League feels the same way I do, which is the system is antiquated. At some point, and maybe it's the next CBA, it has to be addressed. The way to do it, it's simple, the problem is the agent. The reality is you could take the exact same pool of money, not take a dime away from the players, and say we're going to reallocate, do a rookie wage cap or rookie pool like the NBA does, take the rest of those dollars and give it to the rest of the guys who earned it as NFL players. I think the veteran players would love it. I think it would be fair to the club. The only group that doesn't like it are the agents and they're a pretty powerful constituency I think with the Players Association.
Q. Just to segue with the Jets at number 6, what's your take on what they might try to do there?
MIKE MAYOCK: I think they're interesting because Chris Long could get there. If Chris -- if Miami doesn't take Chris, he could get there, and if he gets there, I think it's a no-brainer. He fits their scheme. I already talked about Chris earlier on this call.
If Chris doesn't get there, I think the long shot interesting guy is Matt Ryan, because the Jets have shown more interest in Matt Ryan than people want to acknowledge. And Matt is the kind of guy that can throw in the Meadowlands, can pick up a system very, very quickly. And are you acknowledging that maybe he made a mistake with Kellen Clemens, perhaps, but I've got nothing in my mind -- in my mind, there's nothing wrong with having two good quarterbacks especially if you have an aging veteran with a lot of salary cap money under him.
The last thing, you could also be faced with Darren McFadden. I said earlier, if he doesn't go four, I would think Kansas City takes him, the Jets are on the clock, I don't think the Jets can afford to take him. Even though it's a position of need, I don't think the kid would survive in New York City. He gets in too much trouble. I think Mangini and those guys have to stay clean. It's an interesting scenario if any two of those three kids were sitting there at number six.
Q. Mike, I was wondering if you could give me your thoughts on the South Carolina running back Cory Boyd, what you think about him, what round he might go in.
MIKE MAYOCK: Sure. I really liked him at the East-West game. I went down there, watched practice for a couple of days.
He's an intriguing guy to me. He's a big, strong back with some real good quickness. I think in a year with a running back class pretty good, I think he's going to go late four to mid five. I think he's the kind of guy that can help a team quickly and also play special teams.
Q. Mike, can I get some comments from you about Jake Long. He might not have the speed. He doesn't have Joe Thomas' speed certainly.
MIKE MAYOCK: Well, I'll put it this way. Joe Thomas and his athletic ability and his seat, that's a very, very rare thing. I really like Jake Long as a football player. What I question is whether or not he's always going to struggle with elite speed on the left side. When you're the left tackle, you get the best pass rusher 16 weeks in a row. Do I think he can play left tackle at a fairly high level in the NFL, yes. Do I think he can be a Pro Bowler on the right side, absolutely. So I'm telling you, I think he's going to be a really good football player.
Again, when you have the first pick and you've got $30 million guaranteed tied in, what you want is a Pro Bowl player. Anything else is a waste of money. This kid can be a Pro Bowl player, I just think he's going to -- I'd rather see him for a year or two on the right side and then you kick him over to the left side. And you could probably do that and keep Kerry over there for a year or two. But, you know, I'm kind of -- I'd rather see him go a little bit later in the Draft, but if the theory is, yeah, he's a Pro Bowl player, we're not gonna make a mistake, I get it.
Q. The other thing is, you mentioned earlier 1 through 75 being very strong. The Dolphins have some time to negotiate that pick, there are guys who can drop, as you pointed out. Do you think that the Dolphins would trade and would that be smart (inaudible)?
MIKE MAYOCK: I mean, that's my take on it. Other people might think it's 90, other people might think it's 60. But I think what it really comes down to is when they sit down after the second round that night, they say okay, we got anybody we want that's left on the board, is he worth that pick. Or, if there are three or four guys with a similar type rating, then you can start to think about trading down, picking up multiple picks.
But because there's real good value in my opinion right around 64, 65, I'd be careful about trading out of it.
Q. Staying on the Dolphins, I was going to ask you about first pick of the second round, what in your mind would be best-case scenario, Jake Long, or they go for defense?
MIKE MAYOCK: Well, the good news for the Dolphins is I mentioned earlier the three strengths of this Draft, especially early on offensive tackle, defensive end and corner. If they take the offensive tackle in with the first pick, then I think they can get down there and say do we want a quarterback or is John Beck our guy, because Flacco, Henne and Brohm are all going to be circling around that time.
So do we want a quarterback or is John Beck our guy. I can't answer that question.
Lastly, you're talking about a deep corner class. I think that whole secondary could be upgraded in Miami. They're going to be a couple guys like Brandon Flowers or Patrick Lee, Antwaun Molden, Tracy Porter, there are going to be four or five corners that based on whatever their scheme says will also be very attractive to the Dolphins.
Q. And if you go defense first pick, then you I guess look at quarterback potentially or any left tackles. Maybe a Sam Baker in that range?
MIKE MAYOCK: Yeah, I think what happens is if you get Weber on defense, then you're looking at a quarterback or an offensive tackle. Again, because of the depth of that offensive tackle class, if the five guys are going that I think are going to be going, which are Long, Clady, Otah, Williams and Cherilus, you're probably looking at Sam Baker. And he's a good football player at that spot. I think he can be a starting tackle in the NFL.
Q. Two quick things from Virginia. One, you said earlier that Branden Albert could throw his hat in the ring as a possible ten. Why do you think that? (Inaudible) Who do you suspect will be the first player from Virginia Tech to be drafted and why?
MIKE MAYOCK: Okay. Branden Albert, to me, when I put the tape on after he declared as a junior, actually I called Howie Long who I'd known for 30 years and I said, Howie, who the heck is this Branden Albert kid, the day he declared. I said, I don't know him. Howie said, Do yourself a favor put the tape on tonight. Don't wait. He's the most explosive in space interior line man I've ever seen at the college level.
I put the tape on that night. Howie was right. Kid makes plays, finishes plays in space, he's long, he's athletic, he kicked outside the left tackle two games this year, got better the second game. He's the kind of guy that down the road could be a left tackle. If so, his value will be higher.
So, regardless, he's a first round pick as an interior player. If somebody believes he's a left tackle, he'll be a top ten pick.
At Virginia Tech, they have one of my favorite players in the country, and that's Brandon Flowers, the corner. On tape he's the best corner in college football - on tape. The problem is he doesn't run well. He ran 4.58, 4.59 both at the Combine and the Senior Bowl. So he's going to slide late one to mid two. If the right team takes him with the right scheme, to me, he's a Pro Bowl player. He's the toughest, most physical corner I've seen in the last five years.
Q. Most physical corner, really?
MIKE MAYOCK: That I've seen on the last five years on tape.
Q. You had mentioned him as a scenario for the Dolphins I think possibly first pick of the third round. So you think he could possibly slide that far?
MIKE MAYOCK: Here's the take on Flowers. As far as Flowers is concerned, if you like him like I do, you say, "Well, he's a tough, instinctive corner with great ball skills." If you don't like him, you say, "He's short, he's slow and he's a third round pick." There are going to be both of those flavors throughout the League.
Q. How about Rashard Mendenhall?
MIKE MAYOCK: When I put the tape on of all the top backs, they come from a similar spread type offense which makes it difficult to evaluate. McFadden seems to be everybody's favorite. My problem with McFadden, aside from all the off-the-field issues, are that he's got a narrow-framed lower body and I think he goes down way too easy on contact. When we're talking about his lower body, his legs go dead on contact.
And I get the home run hitting ability, I get the explosion and the berth. I just think if I'm going to take a guy in the top five or the top ten, I also want him to be able to run through an arm tackle.
When I look at Mendenhall, I see a 225 pound tailback that ran 4.45, has an ability to stick his foot in the ground, make people miss, and push the pile. My only concern with him is he's kind of a one-year wonder and can he do it on a consistent basis.
Q. You said you don't see there being another Adrian Peterson in this Draft. Who does Mendenhall remind you of?
MIKE MAYOCK: A little bit of Ronnie Brown when he was healthy, had that kind of berth and explosion, stick your foot in the ground, make somebody miss, but he's bigger.
Q. J. Leman, what are your thoughts?
MIKE MAYOCK: I really like him. He's a tough kid that has been highly productive. He just had a little bit of an injury issue, which is bad timing for him. But he's going to fit into somebody -- I think he's probably going to go in the fifth round or so, and he's the kind of kid that could be a two down line backer at the next level and a core special teams player.
MIKE MAYOCK: Slaton is an enigma but because he runs so fast, I've got him right now in my fourth round. As far as Owen Schmitt, he kind of caught everybody's attention, did not have a great Senior Bowl week. You know, I like him a lot. He's an old-school full back. I think he's going to go fifth or sixth round, be a blocking back. He catches the ball pretty well with a straight line, tight hip. He had a little trouble as a lead back in the Senior Bowl week practices because people kept getting underneath him. Darius Reynaud was a guy people got on late because he could have come back for another year at West Virginia. He's an explosive guy that's going to be a slot receiver, quicker than fast type of guy. I see him somewhere in that fourth or fifth round.
Q. As far as the Panthers go, could you talk about what you think they will do at 13. And also a couple other things, could you see them, there's been some Matt Ryan talk, Marty Hurney said some good things about him yesterday. I think we're trying to figure out about them moving up, if he falls past the Jets, could you see, given their other needs, Carolina moving up to trade with New England?
MIKE MAYOCK: That would be where they'd have to go. He's not going to get past Baltimore. We all know Bill Belichick's drafting history, he'd probably love to move down.
So the answer is Matt Ryan would make a lot of sense in Carolina if they're willing to pay the price to move up. Carolina has some very pressing immediate needs, you know. You're talking about offensive tackles, you're talking about running backs, that defensive line, I think they generated 23 total sacks last year which was next to last in the League.
So the question is, for Marty Hurney and that organization, does the possibility of getting a franchise quarterback this year outweigh the more pressing needs we have of getting some everyday players right now. And, you know, that's an organizational call that I can't make.
Q. Do you think it would make sense?
MIKE MAYOCK: I'm a big believer in the franchise quarterback. I think most people -- to answer your question, yes. To me, it makes sense because if you get a chance to get a kid that can play eight to ten years at what could be a Pro Bowl level, if Peyton Manning was out there, you'd say, yeah, heck yeah. And I think this kid, because of his intangibles, is that kind of a quarterback.
Q. If they stay where they are, what do you see happening there?
Q. Lastly, are there any backs after Stewart and Mendenhall that are smaller but you still consider power backs you could get in the later rounds?
MIKE MAYOCK: You've already taken a first round pick a couple years ago that is similar to that. You could get in the third round, for instance, a Kevin Smith from UCF, or Matt Forte from Tulane, bigger downhill backs that would compliment what you already have there.
Q. I wanted to ask you about the Rutgers' two top guys, Jeremy Zuttah and Ray Rice. How much did the performance in the Combine help them?
MIKE MAYOCK: Jeremy Zuttah is one of my favorite players in this Draft. I had a coach at the Combine probably nudge me and say, You better put some more tape on of this kid. He's only 6'3", I think he's going to get kicked inside. I actually like him at center. I think he can anchor at center. I think he's also athletic enough to pull and get out front. I love the kid as an interior offensive line man, not as a tackle. Worst case, he's a third round pick. That's worst case.
Ray Rice fits in there with that second level of backs. After Mendenhall, McFadden, Stewart and Jones, the next three guys I've got in no particular order are Ray Rice, Jamaal Charles and Chris Johnson. Charles and Johnson are both speed guys, even though Rice ran well the Combine, they're both -- they fly. The NFL likes those kind of guys. I think Ray is more responsible. I think Ray Rice is a great football player, that's a real good second round value.
Q. Did the NFL Combine performance really help them? How much did they benefit from their performance there?
MIKE MAYOCK: I think it
helped them immensely. I think it helped Rice because people had questions about
his long speed. I think it helped Zuttah, he came in, benched whatever it was
35 reps, he looked great in the drills. All of a sudden people were scrambling
to get Rutgers' tape and find out how good he was.