Mayock Assesses Vikings' WR Possibilities

Whether it's second-round talent or even potential undrafted rookies, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock is paid to give an opinion, but he isn't full of useless bluster. He gives it in straightforward fashion, just as he did when talking about the Vikings and their wide receiver prospects last week in a teleconference with reporters.

If you're looking for a television commentator whose draft opinion you can respect, NFL Network's Mike Mayock might be the "best available analyst" to select. He probably doesn't run a 4.4 40-yard dash, but he was a former NFL draft pick who played three years for the New York Giants whose opinion carries some weight without the hyperbole.

Given that he was a cornerback, he probably knows what to look for in a wide receiver, just as the Vikings are expected to do this weekend in the NFL draft.

The Vikings have the seventh pick in the draft, but they aren't expected to have a shot at consensus top wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who has everything scouts look for in a wide receiver – height, speed, hands, strength and even good character. But after him, there aren't any wide receivers that would be considered good value at No. 7, leaving many to believe that the team might have to wait until at least the second round before they could fill one of their greatest needs.

After Johnson, Mayock believes Ohio State's Ted Ginn, LSU's Dwayne Bowe and Tennessee's Robert Meachem will all be selected in the first round.

In the second round, he projects Ohio State's Anthony Gonzalez, USC's Steve Smith, South Carolina's Sidney Rice, USC's Dwayne Jarrett and Washington State's Jason Hill all being selected somewhere in second round.

"Out of that particular group, Brad Childress is a West Coast offensive guy. Jarrett, Rice and Hill an awful lot of sense," Mayock said. "We all know about Jarrett and what he runs as far as a 40-yard dash time. Sidney Rice to me is a compelling question. When I talk to people, his ball skills are unbelievable. He's the only wide receiver in the country that had a good day against (cornerback) Chris Houston from Arkansas. (Rice is) tall – 6-3, 205 – red zone kind of guy. Quicker than Jarrett, but similar size. And then there's Jason Hill from Washington. So at the top end of that second round, I think Gonzales is going to be attractive to people. He's a little bit more of a slot guy. So I think that the logic is Jarrett, Rice and Hill. Probably Jarrett and Rice (for the Vikings)."

Jarrett (6-4,219) was a three-year starter at USC and had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons as a sophomore and junior. Rice is a two-year starter who also had 1,000-yard seasons each of the last two years, and Hill (6-1, 204) is a three-year starter whose best season was his junior year in 2005, when he had 1,097 yards and 13 TDs.

The other option for the Vikings early in the draft is trading their No. 7 overall pick for a selection lower in the first round. Mayock believes that Ginn, whose value has increased because of his return ability, will be selected before the 20th pick. But after that, there are other possibilities in the second half of the first round.

"If Ginn's not there, then you're looking at Bowe and Meachem, who are bigger, most physical West Coast-type guys. And I think they both can play. Are they game breakers? I don't think so," Mayock said.

Bowe hasn't had a 1,000-yard season for LSU, at 6-2, 220 pounds, he is a big possession receiver. Meachem is similarly sized and produced 1,298 yards and 11 TDs for the Volunteers in his only season as a starter.

And then there is always the option of going after multiple wide receivers in the same draft or even waiting until the final rounds of the draft before selecting. The vogue receiver from last year's draft for everyone to compare to is New Orleans Marques Colston, the Saints' second selection in the seventh round who ended up with 1,038 receiving yards as a rookie in 2006.

"If you want me to go really, really deep, and this kid doesn't have the same explosion as Colston, but there's a kid at UMass named Brandon London. He probably won't even get drafted, which Colston almost didn't. But similar body type to Colston. Not as explosive, but good hands," Mayock said. "His father is one of the coordinators at the University of Virginia, Mike London. So you know he knows the game."

Whether it's a sleeper or a first-day selection, the Vikings are expected to come out of the weekend with at least one new receiver and those are Mayock's assessments of who would fit.


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