NFL Network's Mike Mayock Talks Draft

NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock sat down with the press in this conference call and did what he does best, talk about the draft. We've selected some prime pieces of information that are both entertaining and informative about the league, and the Jaguars in specific. Here's part one of this two part interview.

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. Two questions on Clemson prospects, the first on Philip 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.

Q. Mike, I'd like your thoughts on John Carlson and Trevor Laws.

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. Who would be the two guys that would maybe be most intriguing to you on that second day?

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. 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.