Mike Mayock is highly respected among media and many NFL personnel people. So you have to value his opinions.
Bill Polian, a former NFL Executive of the Year who built multiple Super Bowl teams in Buffalo and Indianapolis (and did a pretty good job in Carolina as well), also is highly respected.
And both seem to agree the Dolphins need to address their offensive line problem in the first round of the coming draft.
Polian was addressing the Dolphins possible problem finding a first-round quality right tackle at No. 19 in the coming draft when he said on Thursday night that Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey probably should address the need even if it means reaching a bit on value.
"Miami has to get lined up. First thing you have to do as a general manager is get lined up," Polian said. "They need offensive line help. Trade up or if you have to take [Joel] Bitonio take him there. They need smarts. They need toughness. Get it done! "The job of the draft is to find football players not get value from the pick. Get football players that help the team. They need offensive linemen."
NFL Network's Mayock seems to agree to a degree.
"In my head, Zack [Martin] is going to be gone," he said. "There's no way in the world he gets close to 19. That means that the last first-round tackle I have is Cyrus Kouandjio. I have him later as far as on my board, but I think he's the guy they probably have to take at 19. They have to make over that offensive line. He would be the highest-rated guy left."
So while both Polian and Mayock disagree on which over-valued tackle they would take, they both agree the Dolphins should take an over-valued tackle.
Anyway, below is the rest of the conference call Mayock did with the media Thursday. And remember to come back here for updates from the Dennis Hickey press conference Friday afternoon:
Q. So many mock drafts with a dozen different guys projected. It seems like Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans will be gone. What do you think the best-case scenario is if they stay at 10?
I think if they stay at 10, there could be a whole lot of different ways they go. I've done a bunch of different mock drafts on my own. Last night I did a dual mock draft where I picked two picks for every team. One of them I had Darqueze Dennard, another one I had Zack Martin.
From my perspective defensively, they need a back-end guy, a safety or a corner, and offensively the highest rated O-line men was a wide receiver. I really believe that Watkins is going to be gone. There's a good chance Mike Evans could be gone so they have to be ready in case those guys are gone to look at the highest rated corner or offensive lineman on their board.
Q. Two Virginia Tech players, Kyle Fuller and Antone Exum, who projects more as a safety. What can you tell me in detail, especially about Exum?
Exum is being looked at both as a corner and a safety. He's a bigger guy. Had some injury issues. That's going to hurt him a little bit.
Right now I have him projected in the fourth round in my safety category. Some teams are looking at him, zone teams, as a corner. He's a physical, big guy that I think if he stays healthy and plays special teams, has a good future in the league.
Kyle Fuller is one of my favorite players in the whole draft. What's interesting about the corners is that most of the personnel guys have [Bradley] Roby and [Justin] Gilbert as their highest rated corners just because they have better movement skills. Most of the coaches like Fuller and [Darqueze] Dennard because they're better football players today. You know what you're getting.
Fuller is my number one corner, first-round corner. He has it in his DNA. He can play on, off, he can play man or zone. I think you have a first rounder in Fuller and probably a fourth rounder in Exum.
Q. When you look at the Ravens, a lot of people thought Zack Martin or Taylor would be there for them. There seems to be uncertainty what they might do with pick number 17. What is your perspective on that, a surprise?
Well, they're one of the best drafting teams in the NFL. You got to give Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta and their staff a ton of credit. They rarely stay at their number. They're at 17 this year. Whether they move up or back, there's a pretty good possibility of that happening.
If they have to squat at 17 and can't go anywhere, the first thing I look at is, is there a safety there that might make some sense that would complement Matt Elam. I think Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will be gone. I'm not sure [Calvin] Pryor is the complement to him. The way these guys look at the draft, they're at 17. They want a guy on their board who is 10, 11, 12, somewhere in there.
The second best wideout is going to be gone. There could be a guy like a Bradin Cooks sitting there. So Bradin Cooks, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, I think the tackle board is going to be decimated. If you want a tackle, the next guy in line will be Cyrus Kouandjio. I think the tight end [Eric] Ebron is gone.
The other person that might be of interest is Mosley, the inside linebacker from Alabama.
If they stay, they're the kind of names you're going to hear. More often than not, they move down.
Q. BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy, do you see him staying around for his senior year helped or hurt him and your overall assessment of his extension and weaknesses heading into the draft?
I think it helped him. He became known as one of the best all-around linebackers in college football. There's been a buzz about him the last month or six weeks. The buzz has been he does everything well. I'm not sure he has one outstanding trait where you go, Wow, that's awesome. But he does everything well. He did rush. He can drop. He can play inside, outside. People are trying to figure out where best to play him.
His versatility is a huge plus. I've got him as a solid second rounder right now and I think he's going to be a real good NFL player.
Q. Howie Roseman said the safety class is not that great and actually falls off after the third round. As number 22, Clinton-Dix and Pryor are going to be gone, what do they do after that if they want a safety in this year's draft?
Well, I think Clinton-Dix will definitely be off the board. Pryor may or may not. I'm not sure Pryor fits what they do.
From my perspective, they're looking for a guy that can play strong or free safety, has to have both those skill sets. Jimmie Ward could do that. Lamarcus Joyner from Florida State, both of whom are going to go in the second round. In the third round, the only safety I have is Terrence Brooks from Florida State. After that there's a bunch of guys, Brock Vereen that can play corner or safety. Dontae Johnson from North Carolina State can play corner or safety. Those guys would be appealing to the Eagles.
Q. What about Deone Bucannon?
I love him, but he's a little bit more of a box safety than he is a free safety. He's a really good football player that's going to go in the second round. He could work.
But, again, I think what they like is they want somebody to pair with Malcolm Jenkins that can play free and strong.
Q. I want to ask you about the second tier of receivers in this draft. Everyone talks about Watkins and Evans. Who do you see coming out of the second tier of receivers?
I think there's a chance six wideouts go in the first round. After Watkins and Evans, the next two are going to be wideouts people would say wouldn't go so early, Odell Beckham from LSU and Bradin Cooks from Oregon State. Beckham is an explosive kid with return skills. Gets in and out of breaks as well as any receiver in this draft. Has good size.
Cooks is a smaller receiver, but maybe the most explosive of the entire group. He's tough. He also is a good route runner. I think their value is going to start somewhere in that 13, 14 area. I think they'll be gone by plus or minus 20.
Then Kelvin Benjamin and Marqise Lee come into play after that. You could see up to six wideouts go in the first round.
Q. People talk about the '96 class. Any other draft that comes close to it?
Not that I can think of. It's not just because of the guys we just talked about. It's because we can drop down in the third round and talk about guys. We can talk about the fifth round and drop some names that I think can be some productive NFL players. It's quality at the top and depth throughout.
Q. If the Chargers were to pass up a wide receiver in round one, who are some of the deep threats that would be available later day two, three of the draft, somebody with size?
In round two at wideout, Davante Adams from Fresno, a guy that's really moving up a lot of boards, Cody Latimer, a big guy that ran 4.4, coming off a foot injury from Indiana. A one-year wonder from Clemson, Martavis Bryant. You want to talk about a guy with ability, almost 6'4", ran in the 4.3s, jumps out of the gym, an explosive talent. He's a one-year production guy, which I think scares people. But his physical skill set is so awe-inspiring, he's probably going to go into two.
Allen Robinson in the third round from Penn State. If you're looking for a speed guy, Paul Richardson from Colorado. He flies.
One of my favorite players in the draft is Jarvis Landry from LSU, not fast but one of the toughest players in this draft. I think he's a value in the third round.
Q. 25th pick, there's a cluster of guys. Can you assess that pick?
I think they have to get a corner. I think there's five corners going in the first round. I think they're praying that one of them gets to 25.
The fifth guy, [Jason] Verrett from TCU is special, but the only problem is he's 5'9". Literally the only knock on this kid. He competes, he's tough, but he losing the jump ball throws to bigger receivers.
The edge draft isn't great this year. If you're looking for a defensive tackle, defensive end, it's not real good. Dee Ford could still be available at that point, though.
Q. I wonder where you have Zack Martin. You had him fourth among the tackles. Has that changed at all? Could you give an assessment of him?
I love the kid. Even though I have him fourth as a tackle, he'd be my number one center or my number one guard. I believe that he is the only player in this draft that could start and play at a high level at all five offensive line positions. I think as we get closer to this draft, he will be the fourth offensive lineman off the board.
I think he's coming off the board somewhere between nine and 13. He's too good. He's too safe. There are too many offensive line needs out there. There are a bunch of teams that look at him and say, He could start at right tackle day one, maybe we move him inside to guard or center the next year.
He's awesome. He's about as safe a player as there is in this draft. If you want him, you better get him early.
Q. With the Jets at 18, people think it's going to be corner or receiver. What do you think of that decision and what their most viable options would be at 18?
Yeah, it's really interesting because right around that point there's a bunch of corner and safety needs coming up, starting with the Jets and moving through 25 on San Diego.
From a corner perspective, the Jets could get a Kyle Fuller, a Bradley Roby perhaps. Everybody has different flavors at corner. From my perspective, Fuller, Dennard, Gilbert and Roby.
Verrett for them is more of a nickel. They don't need a nickel right now. It's those four corners they'd be looking at versus who is the highest rated wide receiver on the board at the same time.
I did a mock last night just sitting around here. I had Odell Beckham going to them, which I think would be the third wideout off the board, really good value for them.
Q. In terms of what the Ravens can get, you mentioned a lot of the top guys should move back. If they were to move back four or five spots, do you feel there are a cluster of guys that make sense for their needs and they would like talent-wise?
Yeah, the way they approach this draft is they understand league value. They're looking for clusters. If it approaches 17, there's three or four guys on their board they really like, any one of which they're happy with, they'll trade back in a heartbeat. If on the other hand there's one or two guys, you're at 14, 15, their guys are disappearing, that's when they get a little nervous.
So, again, from the Jets' perspective, if they move back five or six spots, they're at 22 or 23, maybe the Eagles want to come up and get a safety. Now you're sitting down at 22. Is Mosley still there, the linebacker who a lot of people love, but inside linebacker is not a high priority for people.
Aaron Donald, I think I have number 12 on my board, but it's hard to find a spot where he doesn't go. If he doesn't go to Chicago or Dallas at 14 or 16, he could fly down in those areas.
Yeah, I think they're opportunistic and the odds of them sliding back typically are pretty high.
Q. It's been kind of quiet, but the Steelers have really shaved some age off their defense the past couple years. Does that affect how they approach this draft because they're so much younger on defense?
In which way do you mean that?
Q. Do they look past defense because they're getting a little bit younger or do they still need to approach that as a first-round type of possibility?
I think the way Pittsburgh historically approaches the draft, it's the best player at the position of need. Defensively they're number 14 in points allowed, offensively number 16.
Basically I think as they get close to number 15 here, I think first and foremost they've got to see if a corner matches up with what they want to do on defense. Ike Taylor is going to be 34 years old, making $7 million. William Gay is probably better as a nickel. Are any of those other guys ready to step in and play? I think they need a corner, and at 15, I think they can get one. Whether it's Fuller, Dennard, Gilbert or Roby, it depends on what Dick LeBeau wants and how Kevin Colbert lines them up.
My perspective is I think they need a corner. I don't think Eric Ebron would be there. If he was, I think he'd be a heavy consideration also.
Q. With no running backs selected in the first round last year, possibly none this year either, some of the struggles like Trent Richardson, do you see the position being devalued? Are the days of a running back being picked among the top few picks dwindling? In your mock drafts, who do you have going to the Raiders at number five?
In one of them I had [Johnny] Manziel and the other one I had [Khalil] Mack. This is just me messing around last night. It's not official. It's just me trying to run through a whole different group of permutations.
As far as the running back position, I don't think there's any doubt it's been devalued. I just think it's become a pass-first league. Because of that, it's flipped upside down. 30 years ago tailbacks were the most important thing controlling the football, controlling the clock. Now everybody is throwing the ball 40 times a game.
I think it's really intriguing. Football is a cyclical game. I think it's intriguing the two best teams in the last year, Seattle and San Francisco, in my opinion, what was their recipe for success? They played great defense, they ran the football, they asked their quarterbacks to make a less percentage of plays than Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. The two best teams in the league utilized the tailback and the run game. I wouldn't be surprised to see that come back en vogue.
Right now I don't have a running back that I think is going to go in the first round. There might be a couple with first-round grades, I don't think any of them are going in the first round.
Q. We might be splitting hairs, but with Evans and Watkins, in terms of NFL readiness, how they were used in college, whose college résumé caters to them, making a smoother transition knowing the challenges young receivers face.
At wideout, the way I look at those two kids, it's vanilla and chocolate. They make different flavors for different reasons.
The Watkins kid is explosive. He's a great route runner, great hands, tremendous run after catch. More than anything, he's a competitor. In addition to all the natural gifts he has, he has an edge about him every game he plays, and I love that.
Mike Evans is more a product of what today's NFL environment is. Today's NFL environment, with the advent of the back shoulder throw, has opened up the game for the big wideouts, the 6'5" wideouts. Why? They basically can play outside the numbers and they don't have to run as many routes and they don't have to get in and out of breaks like the smaller ones.
They're running a bunch of outside the number fade routes that become converted back shoulders. Any time you get a one-on-one with a defensive back with his back turned, you get a big, superior athlete, the odds favor the wide receiver.
Mike Evans I think, along with Kelvin Benjamin, some of these other guys, are what today's NFL is all about. They're outside the number guys and red zone guys.
However, I happen to think that Watkins is a better football player and that's why he's rated higher.
Q. The 49ers appear to have a need for a nickel corner. They have preferred bigger body types. If you feel it's accurate, why would you make a case that Jason Verrett might be a good fit for them or a smaller guy like Lamarcus Joyner?
You want me to make a case why those two guys would fit?
Q. Yes. The 49ers appear like they need a nickel corner, but they prefer bigger body corners. If you feel strongly with those guys, why would the 49ers make an exception for them?
First and foremost, I still believe with 12 picks they're going to trade up. I think they're either going to target a corner or a wideout. I don't expect to see them on the clock at 31, mostly because the corner and wideout board will be wiped out by then.
However, if they're sitting at 31, and you're talking about Verrett on the board, I think he's by far the best value you can talk about at that point. I do think they have some other issues at corner. I mean, Culliver is coming off an ACL, they signed Chris Cook. They need starting corners in addition to nickels. That to me is critical.
But Jason Verrett competes on the outside, he competes on the inside. He gets beat up a little bit on the jump ball situations. But I would hesitate most of the time with guys that size. But because he's so fast and so competitive, I believe he's a first-round pick and I think he's a natural nickel.
Q. You talk about the 49ers wanting to trade up. They did that last year with the Cowboys. How likely is it that the Cowboys could trade back? If they stay at 16, who do you like there?
If they stay at 16, I think there are a couple different possibilities. Defensively they were number 26 in the league in points allowed. They were last in the league in yards allowed. They got to get better on defense.
A couple different opportunities. I think number one could be Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at safety. They need a free safety type very badly. I think he's one of the top free safeties to come out in the last several years.
Obviously they made a couple signs up front at defensive tackle, most significantly Henry Melton. They're going to try to play Tyrone Crawford inside. He's coming off an Achilles. Could they still take Aaron Donald, the defensive tackle from Pitt? Absolutely.
At the end of the day would it surprise me if they traded down? Not at all. They don't have enough picks. It wouldn't surprise me at all if they traded down. I think the last kind of wild card for them is the quarterback situation. You have a 34-year-old quarterback coming off a second back surgery. I'm not suggesting it has to be the first round, but at some point they're going to have to invest a fairly high pick in a quarterback.
Q. How would you compare Anthony Barr and Ryan Shazier? Your thoughts on the Cardinals taking one of those two players with the 20th pick?
They're very different players. Barr is an outside linebacker set for a 3-4 defense, where Shazier is the prototype 4-3 will.
Barr would make a ton of sense for Arizona, but I don't think he'll be on the board. Shazier, if he was going to be an Arizona Cardinal, he would have to play the will inside linebacker position. They already have a tremendous one in Daryl Washington. I don't think he's a fit. I don't think Barr will be there.
Q. Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff, the offensive tackle from McGill. What do you think of him? Also Virginia D tackle Brett Urban and Oregon linebacker Bo Lokombo.
The Tardiff kid is intriguing. I saw him at the East-West game. He weighed 323 or 321. He lost 23 pounds for his pro day. His pro day numbers were outstanding. They collectively would put him in the top four or five tackles in the entire draft as far as measurables.
Obviously he's a raw with the Ph.D. background, lack of practice time, etcetera. He's gone from a priority free agent to a sixth or seventh round guy to be somebody I think is going to be a fourth or fifth round pick with a physical skill set to become a starter in the NFL. He's raw. He's going to have to redshirt a year. But I do think somebody is going to invest a fourth or fifth round pick to develop him.
The kid from Virginia, Brett Urban, he's what's called a natural five technique, which is the end in a 3-4 defense. His tape early in the year is pretty good. I heard some second and third round grades on him early in the year. He got hurt at the Senior Bowl. Didn't have a chance to really distinguish himself. I think he'll probably go in the third round, worst case in the fourth round. But he's a big, strong guy that should start for an NFL team at the five technique.
The Oregon kid, Lokombo, he's got the speed that the 4-3 teams are looking for. He's a 4-3 will. He flies. I think he has to learn to be a little tougher as far as consistency with his tackling and being able to get off blocks. A little bit undersized. But he does have the speed. If he's willing to play special teams, gunner, jammer, et cetera, I think he can make a living in the NFL.
Q. The Buccaneers, what do you see them doing at seven? Trading down? If they keep it, what is it best for them?
I think they're in a good place. A lot of the teams in the top 10 are talking about trading down because it's such a good draft, blah, blah, blah.
I think Tampa Bay is in a pretty good place to get a really good football player. One of the two mock drafts I did last night, Sammy Watkins fell to them. From my perspective, what a great pick that would be at seven. You pair him with Vincent Jackson and all of a sudden you help both your quarterbacks, whether it's [Josh] McCown or [Mike] Glennon or whatever.
If Watkins would fall to them, I think that would be phenomenal.
The tight end, Ebron, I think his interest starts right here in Tampa. He's going to go somewhere I believe between seven and 13.
So either way, whether it was a Watkins or Ebron, if you have a play-maker to help that offense, I think it would be awesome.
They're in a good place to sit and get a play-maker.
Q. You talked a lot about the wideouts today. What do you think about the three guys the Panthers have signed at free agents. Also, is this the year, if you're a team like Carolina, to look to get that kind of franchise guy even as low at 28?
Franchise guy where?
Q. In terms of a wideout, a big-time wideout.
Are you saying you want to move up?
Q. No. I guess what I'm asking is, you talked about the depth. Even at 28, is it possible to get a guy who you could plug in there and sort of take Smith's spot and be a guy you could count on for a number of years?
I'll tell you what's interesting is, again, last night messing around with these mock drafts, I couldn't get one of the six wideouts to Carolina at 28. I had Marqise Lee going at 27 to New Orleans. He was the sixth one. I can see Carolina taking Morgan Moses, the tackle, which is another need for them obviously.
So do I think Kelvin Benjamin or Marqise Lee could get to them? Yeah, they could. But it's a little bit of a crapshoot right now. All six first-round wideouts could be gone before 28. I think all five tackles could be gone by 28. So they could be looking at a Morgan Moses or a Davante Adams at wideout.
You asked me about the guys they signed. Cotchery is a better slot. Tiquan Underwood is kind of an X, an outside wide receiver with good speed. Jason Avant is a player that I saw a lot of in Philadelphia that I have a ton of respect for. He's tough, smart, great in the locker room. He's not overly gifted, but he comes to play every Sunday.
Q. Do you have any thoughts on the 40-yard dash? Do you like the attention it gets these days? How significant is it? Do you think the attention is appropriate?
It's an interesting question. I think sometimes the biggest mistakes are made by teams that concentrate too heavily on the measurables. Now, having said that, there are certain measurables that are important for NFL teams, and the 40 is one of them. When they run at the combine, everybody is on the same surface with the same type of spikes, whatever, it's an apples-to-apples comparison. That's important to these guys. You've watched nine million tapes, you're trying to say is this wideout as fast as I think he is, why did this wideout run 4.42 when it looks like on tape he's 4.45.
I think we make mistakes. The Oakland Raiders have traditionally been a height, weight, speed team. They've made a bunch of mistakes, especially at wide receiver because they've picked big, fast guys. You can go throughout the league and pick mistakes.
I think the best drafting teams are the ones that put the heavy emphasis on the tape and use the measurables just as a cross-check to make sure they've got everything where they want it.
Q. The Eagles only have six picks, but Howie Roseman said today the team would still be willing to trade picks to move up as long as the value of the player is right. Are there any players that you could imagine the Eagles trading up picks for?
Let's face it, if possible they need defensive impact players. If [Anthony] Barr from UCLA were to start to slide, I think he'd be a guy they could trade up for. They need a 3-4 outside linebacker edge type. I think if Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the safety from Alabama, started to slide, he'd be another consideration. They're the two that would make the most sense to me if they started to slide.
Q. Anthony Barr, you've mentioned a couple times you don't think he's going to be there in the early 20s. It seems like lately he's a guy who is sliding. What do you think accounts for that?
I don't think he's sliding. I think that's more of a media perception. I think he could go as early as 11 to Tennessee. I think Dallas would love him at 16.
This draft is not deep in edge rushers. The bottom line with Barr is I think his best football is ahead of him. You might have to wait two years. He only played the position for two years. He needs to get stronger at the point of attack, he needs to learn the position from a perspective of learning how to pass-rush. Every rush can't be a speed rush.
But the kid has great talent. He's the prototype 34 outside linebacker. I don't think there's any way he gets into the 20s.
Q. About quarterbacks, do you think the fact that some teams had success with non-first-round quarterbacks and/or the mistakes that were made in 2011 will cause any sort of market corrections that teams might not reach for quarterbacks high in the first round as much as they have in the past because of those things?
I don't think there's any doubt that last year was the first time we saw true value at the quarterback position in a bunch of years. Only one quarterback was drafted in the first round. Rather than push quarterbacks up higher because of need, I think teams put them on their boards and stay true to their boards.
I think because of the second and third rounders playing well, Russell Wilson, [Andy] Dalton, [Colin] Kaepernick, Nick Foles, because those guys have played well, it opens the door even more and reinforces that philosophy.
I think it's going to be intriguing this year to see how these quarterbacks are spread out. I have 10 quarterbacks with first, second or third round grades this year, which is more than I've ever had. It's mostly because I'm getting feedback from teams that believe in that many kids. The average number of quarterbacks that go in the first three rounds over the last five years has been five. Yet I have 10 with those kinds of grades.
It's pretty intriguing. Philosophically it's going to be interesting to see if that holds up.
Q. If Zack Martin is off the board at 19, who would you have in the mix for Miami?
"In my head, Zack is going to be gone. There's no way in the world he gets close to 19. That means that the last first-round tackle I have is Cyrus Kouandjio. I have him later as far as on my board, but I think he's the guy they probably have to take at 19. They have to make over that offensive line. He would be the highest-rated guy left.
Q. If that's too high for them, is there another person that would pique your interest there?
I think a wide receiver would pique my interest there. At that point a Beckham or Cooks. You'd have to take a look at those two players and say are they significantly more highly rated than Kouandjio is. If so, you pull the trigger on the wideout.
Q. You mentioned Marqise Lee for the Saints a minute ago. Who else do you see for them as a possibility for them at 27? Do you think at that point they would reach for a need or try to take the best player on their board?
They're a pretty good football team. Number four in defensive points allowed, number 10 in points scored. It's a solid football team.
I think when you get to the bottom end of the first round, it's really important to take good football players and not reach too deeply for need.
For instance, I do believe they need a corner. They signed a 36-year-old Champ Bailey, but they need a corner. If those five corners are off the board, could they look at a Stanley Jean Baptiste from Nebraska? Yeah. He's a long corner that fits today's game with an exciting skill set. I could bet on that kind of guy. That's not too big a reach.
You also have to look at the rest of the board. If we have Baptiste as our 28th or 29th guy, there's somebody sitting here who is our 15th best player on the board, we better pull the trigger at 15.
I think keeping an open mind and making sure you're drafting good football players, it's important all the time, but it's especially important at the bottom end of the first round.
Q. The mock draft you were talking about, the two picks, how did it look for the Eagles? Do you see them going more defense or offense?
Here is the premise I'm operating off of. They made the playoffs last year with an offense that was number four in the league in points scored. I give Billy Davis a ton of credit for bringing a defense along that in August was horrific, and they got better and better every day. But they didn't have a whole lot of talent.
They've done a good job in free agency with Malcolm Jenkins, Nolan Carroll, those kinds of guys. They have to get better at defense. At 22, it's kind of a funky place. The safety they want could be gone. The corner they want could be gone. The edge rusher could be gone.
If any one of those positions at 22 is a guy they like, I think they have to pull the trigger.
However, if those positions at 22 don't make sense, I think they have to look at the wide receiver position, not because they lost DeSean Jackson necessarily, but because it's deep and there's talent available. When I sat here last night and did my mock draft, I kind of struggled with should I give them the fourth or fifth wideout or give them a guy who I think is a really good football player like Kyle Fuller from Virginia Tech. I gave them Fuller.
The bottom line is, the decision they have to make is, is the highest rated defensive player on our board better and worth more than what the highest-rated wideout is on or our board? I think that's the conversation they will have if they stay at 22.
Q. I'm not sure at this point if you looked at the specialists. Curious about Boswell and Leone.
I feel horrible to tell you this, but I don't even look at it or talk about a kicker until the week of the draft, then I call my buddies around the league that are special teams coaches and say, Who do I need to know? To me they're like golfers. I could look at them all day long, but it's about their stroke. It's about stuff I don't understand, and I'd be lying if I did. I apologize.
Q. Phillip Gaines had a good combine. Where do you see him right now? Is he a corner that could make his way up a little bit higher?
Yeah, he's kind of intriguing because he's got length and he's got speed. There were some injury concerns about him. There's also some teams trying to figure out whether or not he can play safety.
But I think his workout from a measurable perspective was outstanding. I wouldn't be surprised if he went in the fourth or fifth round, whereas coming out of the East-West game teams were thinking about him later.
He helped himself. I think because of his length and speed he's intriguing.
Q. We talk about the Lions. How much value is that 10th pick? Is it worth a lot for them to consider moving down if the guys they want are already gone?
What's interesting, in the last couple years, there used to be this trade chart that all the teams had. It assigned a point value for every pick in the draft. If you went from the 10th to the 14th spot, it was worth X points. Therefore, that team had to give you a similar value in points.
The last two or three years, that's gone out the window with the CBA when those top 10 or 12 picks changed. There was a whole different financial perspective for those topics.
You could see, for instance, Oakland, when they traded back from whatever it was last year, three I think it was to 12 or 13, they didn't get anywhere near the value. I think they picked up a second-round pick, but to me it made sense.
Teams are doing more things that make sense functionally from a football perspective and they're throwing the trade chart out the window.
If Detroit is there at 10, the one or two guys they really wanted are gone, even if they move down five or six spots and got one pick, to me that's a bonus. Why not? You're going to get the same guy at 14 as you get at 10. If you get a third-round pick, it's awesome. I don't think it's going to be something they know until they get on the clock.
Q. Who do you think has a better pro career, Zach Mettenberger or Aaron Murray and why? Do you see anyone else getting drafted from Georgia?
From Georgia, no. Regarding Murray and Mettenberger, that is complete opposites. It's really intriguing. The common denominator is they're both coming off ACL injuries late last season. Both had great pro day workouts.
Mettenberger has as strong an arm as anybody in the draft. I'd be surprised if he didn't go second round. Looked like he recovered from the ACL, which is amazing 13 or 14 weeks out. When you draw up a quarterback, physically I think he looks like what you want. I think he's a little heavy-footed. I'd like to see him a little bit more athletic, but he has the hose that every team wants.
Now Murray I thought probably knows how to play the position than any quarterback in the draft. He's got anticipation and timing probably because he's had to since he was a young kid because he was never that big, overpowering arm quarterback.
They're completely different. I think Mettenberger goes in the second, I think Murray probably goes in the third. Murray's arm strength isn't as good as you'd like it. But, man, accuracy, timing, anticipation, it's what that position is all about. With the second and third rounders making it more recently, he's in a lot of conversations with a lot of teams about the potential of a starting quarterback.
Q. Bridgewater, when you saw him live and the pro day was disappointing by all accounts, what has been your process when you go back to the tape? To the question of the face of the franchise, when you talk to teams about this in your own experience, how do you define as a quarterback what the face of a franchise should be?
They're good questions. I'm struggling myself internally with this whole Bridgewater thing. I'm a coach's son and I've always believed the tape tells everything. I struggle with this a little bit because I like them on tape. I think it was four games prior to the combine. I saw him throw live and I didn't like it at all. Went back and watched three or four more games.
To be honest with you, it's from a different prism. I am questioning arm strength, I am questioning accuracy. I watched him take three sacks consecutively against I think it was the University of South Florida. His stats were outstanding in that game. He threw the ball well, but he took three sacks I couldn't stand.
It bothered me that he took those sacks. Did it bother me more because I was at his pro day? Maybe. I didn't think he was as athletic. He's a narrow-framed guy.
So it was one instance where I struggle tape versus live, and I think a bunch of teams feel the same way. I've talked to teams that have been unnerved by it.
As far as the face of the franchise, sometimes that's not definable. I look at Johnny Manziel. Whatever it is, he has it. I know on Saturday, Sunday, whatever day you play on, he's going to show up with an edge about him thinking he's the best guy on the field and he's going to elevate the play of those around him. I believe that. I also struggle with him a little bit with his off-the-field antics.
With Bridgewater, I don't feel an 'it' factor. I see a really good kid. But I don't know if he's ready to be the guy. Because of that, I think he's going to need at least a year to get used to that environment. He needs a redshirt year, in other words. If you need a redshirt year, you're probably going to get drafted at a different level.
So that's a long way of saying that the Bridgewater thing has confused me, it's confused teams. But I'd be surprised at this point if he goes in the first round.
Q. Talk a little bit about Trai Turner, a guard from LSU, not expected to come out but came out.
Yeah, he's a big, good-looking guy. I would have loved to have seen him stay in school because I think he could have been a borderline first-round pick had he.
When I put his tape on after he declared, I was like, Wow, he's big, he's square, he stays square, he shoots his hands pretty much inside. I think the teams that like the bigger, mauling-type offensive linemen will like him. I think he has to learn some things in pass protection.
The composite is he's got the size and natural athletic ability. He hasn't been hurt. He started the last two years consecutively.
Worst-case scenario, he's going to go in the third round. I believe he's going to be a second-round guard. He's got some things he's going to have to learn because he's very raw, but he's got the natural ability to be a starter.
Q. Going back to the running back class here. Where do you think Jeremy Hill fits in that mix? Who do you think maybe has a need for him? What has he done well in terms of passing and catching to put himself in that position?
He's a big, talented kid. He's a little bit like the Ohio State kid [Carlos] Hyde, where you're talking about a 230-pound tailback with really good feet. That's what's atypical about both those guys. They have great feet for their size.
The important thing is that they're both three-down backs also. Hill catches the ball well. He has to learn a lot more about pass protection, both about what it is, identifying who to block, then wanting to make that block so you're on the field for three downs.
The biggest issue with him is not any of that, it's off-the-field stuff. It's going to follow him, and justifiably so. Teams have questions and concerns. It could affect his value.
If he went in the third round, it wouldn't surprise me. But from a talent perspective in this draft, I have him in the second round.
Q. What is keeping A.J. McCarron from being a higher pick in the draft?
I think the competition level at quarterback is most significant. I also think that he kind of lost an opportunity to take a step forward when he decided not to play in the Senior Bowl. A guy like [Jimmy] Garoppolo stepped into his shoes, impressed people, got a little bit of enthusiasm going on his campaign. Garoppolo takes off. People wait to see what happens with [Zach] Mettenberger. He rips it on his pro day. Same with [Aaron] Murray. Here comes Tom Savage. There are all these players gaining momentum.
A.J. had a solid career. He's better than the 'average Alabama quarterback,' but in this particular draft he's going to be a second or third-round pick. I don't think it's a bad thing. I think that's probably where he belongs. He's going to have an opportunity at some point to become a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Q. Your thoughts on Marcus Roberson of Florida, and Lamarcus Joyner of Florida State.
The Joyner kid I find really intriguing. He's a different kind of guy. I've got him in my safety grouping actually because the only thing negative about him, there was a conversation going around at his pro day, was his height. Corners and safeties that are 5'9", they get knocked on. This kid is quick, he's explosive. I think he's probably your starting nickel day one. I think there's value there.
I have him in the second round. Some teams have him in the third round. But I think the kid's going to be a special teams player and worst case a starting nickel.
Your other question was Roberson. For me, he's a six-foot corner which is important, but he didn't run well. He ran in the low 4.6's. All three of those Florida corners are grouped in similar places. I think Roberson is probably going to come off the board in the fourth round and I think the lack of speed really hurt him.
Q. You mentioned Jimmy Garoppolo earlier. You won't have as much developmental times as the usual quarterback. What kind of timetable should he be on from an organizational standpoint? What tells you that he could be successful in that role?
I kind of feel like out of all the quarterbacks, the only two quarterbacks that could potentially step in and play day one, and I wouldn't want either one of them to, is Johnny Manziel because his style is so different, and maybe Murray from Georgia, even though I'd be worried about his knee, because he understands the game so much.
I think just about every other quarterback in this draft class needs a redshirt year, including Garoppolo. I like the kid. I knew he had a quick release and good feet. That's what really just kind of hit me the first time I saw him drop back to pass. Really good feet, quick to release. I think he fits a West Coast offense.
I think speed of play, the East/West game he got a little bit better each day, Senior Bowl he got better each day. I think this is a smart kid that is going to get better and better. He's just going to have to learn a little bit about the game. I think he's a certain scheme fit and I think West Coast offense is where he belongs.
Q. What is your best guess on what the Redskins will do with their first pick in the second round and where do you think Logan Thomas best fits?
You're talking about a position or a team?
I have no idea who is going to draft him. You're talking about a guy that's not going to go until at the earliest the third round and probably the fourth round.
I'm intrigued by him. I am totally intrigued by this kid. Somebody is going to want to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. He's got great tools. He's got some good tape, but mostly really bad tape. He needs a year or two to get everything straightened out. I have no idea where he's going to end up, but probably late three to mid four.
As far as the Redskins picking first pick at number 34, boy, O-line and D-line to me is pretty important. I don't think there's a safety there. There could be a corner that makes sense for them. But with Jay Gruden, knowing Jay pretty well, Jay loves the offensive side of the ball. Again, they were number 30 in points allowed. I really believe they've got to pick the top-rated defensive player on their board unless a wide receiver is sitting there.
Q. A question about a small school prospect, tight end, Joe Don Duncan. What are your thoughts about him, where he might be selected?
The bad tight end class. I really wanted to see that kid play at the Senior Bowl, and he got hurt. He was used all over the place at Dixie State, mostly out wide. He has surprising movement skills for a guy his size.
He runs well. He catches pretty well. I would have liked to have seen him make more one-on-one or fully 50/50-type catches whether it's him or a corner or him or a safety, especially at that level of football. Because of his height, weight, speed, because it's a poor class, I think he probably ends up in the fifth or sixth round somewhere.
Q. Could you evaluate Troy Niklas, what you make of him coming out early, how you think he'll do in this draft, and maybe some of the later-round Notre Dame guys, who you think might be a value pick there.
Niklas to me is an in-line wide. If he wants to become the best blocking tight end in the NFL, he will be. He only played that position two years at the collegiate level. If you put the Stanford tape on, he kind of got schooled by Trent Murphy, an outstanding linebacker from Stanford. From a technique perspective, he has a lot to learn.
If I was him in my heart and soul I'd want to become the best blocker at tight end because that would guarantee me a 10-year career. He also catches the ball well, both short and intermediate.
Some of the guys down the line a little bit, Prince Shembo is intriguing to me. Too short to be an edge guy, which is where his natural fit is. I think some of the 3-4 teams are looking at him inside. I like him inside. He stood up in the East/West game and had a heck of a week. I think he'll be a value in the fourth or fifth round.
Bennett Jackson, corner/safety, little bit of a tweener, I'd like to see him at safety. I want to see him be more physical. I think he's going to get drafted late, play special teams.
George Atkinson, the tailback, one of the fastest players in the draft, he's 215 pounds. He might be the second or third best kickoff returner. He's going to be late draftable, his ticket is going to be returning kicks, playing special teams, and secondarily trying to earn some time as a tailback.
Q. If running backs are being devalued, what kind of value does a guy like Charles Sims carry?
I like him, his ability to catch the football is what is important. I have him in the fourth round. I think the combination of catching the football, being a big enough back to pass protect, and some natural running skill sets really helps him. He's a solid fourth-round guy that provides versatility.
Q. You touched on Aaron Donald earlier. A lot of the mocks have him going to Chicago. Do you think that's where he ends up? Could you see him going higher than that?
If I have eight or ten favorite players every year, he's one of them this year for me. I'm a little worried about it just because sometimes guys slide a little bit because they're not a fit for particular teams, not because they're not really good football players.
He did everything you could do to become a top 10 or 15 pick. Great college career. Tremendous Senior Bowl week where he dominated, ran like crazy at the combine. He did everything. He should be a top half of the first round, and I hope he is. 14 Chicago, 16 Dallas. You would hope somewhere right in there.
I don't think he's going much higher. There are some concerns. I don't buy into it. There are teams who say he's too short, too small. If he doesn't win immediately with quickness, he's done.
I hope he does not fly. He's too good a football player, too good a kid, but it has to be the right fit. It should be somewhere in the middle of that first round.
Q. I know you touched on the Redskins earlier, but could you talk a little bit about maybe a right tackle who could fit them? Some have talked about Cyrus Kouandjio and Morgan Moses.
Yeah, when you're talking about number 34, they're the two most logical guys. I happen to think Kouandjio is going to be gone. Moses could be. He's extremely long. At first I didn't like him because he's got very average feet. What I've learned is sometimes those really big, huge, long right tackles with average feet end up being pretty good football players. The Vikings have one at right tackle named Phil Loadholt. That's a little bit what this kid is like. He's so darn long, he's difficult to get around.
A guy that nobody is talking about that I love is Joel Bitonio from Nevada. Most people assume he's a guard. I watched him handle Anthony Barr from UCLA. I watched him against Florida State. I watched him against Boise who has a good edge kid in Demarcus Lawrence. I think Bitonio will start day one at right tackle and I think he'll be there at 34.
Q. I have a question about Taylor Lewan from Michigan. Is there any way he could slip up to two passing the other two tackles?
It seems like no matter how I cut this thing, most of what I look at, he ends up in Atlanta at six. That makes a ton of sense. If Atlanta trades up for [Jadeveon] Clowney, all bets are off. I don't think he's going to pass either tackle. I think he's going to be the third tackle off the board. Some teams might even like Zack Martin better. He's going to be the third or fourth tackle, but I believe the third tackle off the board.
If there's no movement in the top six, I think [Greg] Robinson and [Jake] Matthews will go earlier. Atlanta who needs an edge rusher on defense on a tackle on offense would then take him at six.
Q. Can you put more emphasis Cody Latimer and Martavis Bryant.
Latimer is interesting. The first tape I watched was I believe Illinois where he had 11 or 12 catches, looked like Superman. I purposely put on Michigan State and Ohio State because they're the two best corners in the Big Ten. Against Michigan State he struggled to separate against press coverage. That's normal for a young receiver. You don't see that kind of quality press coverage in college football.
He's a big, 6'2", 220, blah, blah, blah, it's all beautiful, but he's a little bit stiff and he's got a lot to learn. People are talking about him in the first round, I don't see it. I think he's a second-round guy with a significant amount of upside.
The other one you asked me about is Bryant. Boy, is he gifted. Watching him at his pro day, it was he and Watkins putting on a show. He's got great hands. Even though he had a bunch of drops early in the year, he still has great hands. He's long, fast, he jumps. There's just a historical perspective that I get really nervous about taking a wideout in the first or second round that's a one-year wonder. Stephen Hill to the Jets. There's a bunch of those kind of guys. Bryant has some kind of immaturity off-the-field issues that have to be addressed also.
Q. Your take on David Fales, what kind of a round you could see him going in. Do you have concerns about his arm strength that a lot of people seem to have?
I like David Fales. He's smart. He throws with some anticipation and timing. I thought the Minnesota game showed he had enough arm strength to win. He pushed the ball down the field with strength and accuracy. Does he have a big arm? No. But he's a smart kid who understands the game.
I have him as about my 11th quarterback. Remember, I said 10 of them could have first three-round grades. I think Fales will go in the fourth or fifth round. I think he's one of those guys that will probably wear a baseball cap for 10 years and occasionally be able to compete for a starting job.
Q. Clearly everybody has their own opinion about different guys. The disparity of the opinion of Clowney is amazing. What do you attribute that disparity to?
Whenever a guy is blessed with as much ability as he's blessed with, and I've made the statement that he woke up this morning with more physical ability than any defensive lineman on the planet, and I believe that, anywhere on the planet.
With that ability comes certain responsibilities or perhaps expectations. There are times when he just kind of disappears. The Clemson tape, the left tackle from Clemson, Brandon Thomas, I thought got the best of him the entire game. If you're that good, why do you disappear for a full game? It's not as much technique, double-teaming or triple-teaming. It's just sometimes he gets blocked and he stays blocked. What I'd like to see is a little bit more of an edge about him.
When he was pissed off at Tennessee, their left tackle was chirping last year, he killed Tennessee's entire offensive line for the whole game.
I think when the kid is motivated, he's special. The downside to it is coaches are looking at each other saying, ‘Are we going to have manage that every day for four or five years?’ You'd like to see a self-starter and not somebody you have to start.
Q. Do you have any thoughts on two Georgia state players, Albert Wilson and Ulrick John, and their chances of getting drafted.
The kid that I know pretty well is the wideout, Albert Wilson. I watched some significant tape on him. He made a play against somebody, I forget who it was against, but it was a handoff, running back fumbled, defensive player picked it up, ran it in for a touchdown. This kid chased him down and stripped the football from him on the four yardline. It was a beautiful play.
He has some ability. I think he's a third-day player, somewhere in the fifth or sixth round. He has an ability to make people miss. I think the way he can move them inside and outside. I think there's some upside there.
The other kid I don't know. I haven't watched tape of the other kid so I'm not qualified to talk about him.
Q. Could you tell me what you saw in your evaluation about Jeff Janis and how you project he'll fit in the NFL?
He's an intriguing kid because he's got height, weight and speed. Because of that, I was really looking forward to seeing him at the Senior Bowl. I thought he struggled a little bit there. At that point people were saying if he's a 4.4 guy, that size, is he a third or fourth round pick? That's where the small school guys have to step up and embrace it. I thought he struggled at the Senior Bowl. He struggled against the two twins from northwest Missouri. I watched that tape.
Because of speed, natural hands, he has some upside. He's raw. Needs to develop it. I think he's going to go in plus or minus the sixth round and could spend a year on the practice squad unless he's a really good special teams player.
Q. You were talking about the Lions moving down earlier. You also mentioned Sammy Watkins moving to seven in one of your mocks. How high would they have to go up to get him?
To get Watkins?
Q. Yes. And do you think that's realistic?
Again, they've got two comp picks so they've got eight total. I'm not sure you want to go get anybody, in all honesty, in this draft giving up picks unless it's go get a Sammy Watkins where you don't have to give up much. If you have to give up a fourth-round pick or third-round pick, that's one thing. You start talking about a second-round pick or a number one next year, I wouldn't go anywhere near that kind of stuff. This draft has enough good football players.
I feel like people in Detroit are fixated on getting that wideout. I understand why. From my perspective, I have no problem with Michael Evans. I would take him in a heartbeat without having to give up another pick.
I think you have to think really hard before you start giving up picks to move up and go get somebody in this draft.
Q. University of Miami prospects are all over the place as far as predictions for the draft. No one is expected to go very high. Who do you think will be drafted among Miami Hurricanes? In particular, O-lineman Seantrel Henderson and Brandon Linder, and quarterback Stephen Morris and wide receiver Allen Hermes?
I think those two offensive linemen are heading in different directions. I think the most gifted player on their team is Seantrel Henderson. He's had off-the-field issues and on-the-field inconsistencies. He's a first round talent that will probably go in the fourth round. That's probably where he'll go, somewhere in the fourth round. Somebody might take him earlier just because he's so darn gifted.
But he's heading in the wrong direction, whereas their guard, Linder, the more the coaches get involved, the more they like him. He's not as physically gifted as some players in this draft, but he's smart and tough.
A lot of people thought he was a sixth or seventh-round pick. I think he's going in the fourth or fifth round. This is a pretty good guard draft.
The quarterback Morris, I saw him at the Manning passing academy, he's got a very strong arm. I like the kid, the person. Had some inconsistencies this year. But I think he's got a strong arm. I think he's going to need to redshirt. I think he's a late draftable, probably fifth or sixth round. I talked to some people that really liked him at the pro day.
Allen Hermes is a guy for me that doesn't have any one outstanding trait as a wide receiver. He has decent size, decent speed, pretty good hands, but he doesn't stand out in a wide receiver class that's very deep. He's going to be a late pick or a priority free agent.
Q. What do you think Seattle at the number 32 spot might be looking for? From the standpoint of when you're a Super Bowl champion, you have a set roster at a number of spots, do you feel historically that changes anything in what you might be looking for?
Well, what I think is a good chance of happening is if Houston doesn't take a quarterback at one, the entire league expects them to take a quarterback at 33. So depending on who is sitting on the board at the quarterback position at 32, I think they could get an awful lot of activity to move down. I think they're in a great spot because of that.
If I'm a Seattle fan, I'm rooting for Houston to take Clowney at one. I'm rooting for Mettenberger and Bridgewater and Garoppolo, all those guys, to still be on the board so somebody wants to come up ahead of Houston and Seattle to trade down a few slots. I really believe that has a good chance of happening.
If they sit there at 32, I'm a big believer of this, you just have to be versatile. Years ago when New England desperately -- coming off a Super Bowl, they desperately wanted a defensive player, that entire board, the defensive first-round board was wiped, they ended up taking a guard by the name of Logan Mankins. I think there's a story and lesson to be learned there.
You have to pick at 32, regardless of your needs, a good football player. I said the same thing to somebody else who called about New Orleans at 27. Picking good football players at the end of the round is paramount rather than trying to catch lightning in a bottle and taking less talent with great production.
They have to be versatile. They could end up with an interior lineman, but I think they're going to trade down.
Q. Regarding Spartans, can you talk about Max Bullough, safety Isaiah Lewis, are there any other Spartans that might get drafted like Fowler?
Fowler could get drafted. He ran fast at his pro day. He's a good-looking body guy. Again, it's a deep draft. I happen to like Isaiah Lewis. Again, I don't know if he's going to get drafted. I like him on tape.
When we start talking about these kind of guys, special teams, the core special teams players are the guys that win and play four, five, six years in the league. The guys that can cover kicks, they play four teams, punt, punt return, kick and kick return. That's where Isaiah Lewis fits in.
Bullough 25 years ago would have been a highly regarded guy, but the game has moved away from that. Teams are looking for inside linebackers that can run, that can play against tight ends that can run. Bullough drops down into the fifth round, plus or minus, as a two-down kind of thumper.
The backup linebacker that played in the Rose Bowl, he was fun to watch and will get a priority free agent job somewhere.
Q. The last couple years Florida International has produced three players that were drafted earlier than anybody expected. Do you see anything similar for (indiscernible) and Greg Hickman? Can you speak on the non-Bortles talent at UCF and the talent USF?
The non-Bortles talent is really Storm Johnson, the tailback, who is a big back, catches the football fairly well. Probably has fifth-round talent. At South Florida, Deve Lattimore, the defensive end, outside linebacker that transferred from Notre Dame, whose name is escaping me right now, Aaron Lynch. Lynch is a really gifted kid. I don't know why he lost all that weight and decided he wanted to be an outside linebacker. But he has a ton of talent. I'm not sure what he's thinking. I think he's probably going to go somewhere in the fifth round as a defensive end, outside linebacker.
As far as those FIU guys, you're right, good production out of there at a high level in the NFL. I think both those defensive tackles are probably priority free agents.
Q. What player is this year's Sharrif Floyd, a player predicted to go in the top five or ten who could fall later in the draft?
I think the obvious answer is the quarterbacks. There's more diversity of opinion on the top quarterbacks than I've ever seen. A Manziel or a Bortles, one or both, could slide. Once you get past the top eight, teams in the top eight need quarterbacks. There's a potential of 11 at Tennessee, 16 with Dallas. You could slide a while. So I think the two quarterbacks are the most logical candidates to slide.
Q. We've been hearing almost from day one that Tom Savage is moving up the board. What is the most logical round for him? What do you think about his receiver, Devin Street?
Savage is really intriguing because he throws the ball as well as anybody in this draft. I think he and Mettenberger, along with Logan Thomas from Virginia Tech, I think those three guys have the biggest arms in this draft. Savage has been to three different colleges. You'd like him to have better feet. He takes too many sacks. From an arm talent perspective, it doesn't get much better than Tom Savage.
In a draft that's deep at quarterback, if he went late third round, it wouldn't surprise me. If he slid into the fourth round, it wouldn't surprise me. But he's going to need to speed up his process, make decisions more quickly, get the ball out of his hands more efficiently.
Devin Street is a tall wideout, got some skills. I'd like to see him get a little bit stronger. But he can run. He's got size. If he could just beef up, get stronger, win some more of those jump balls, I think he's got a chance to play. He's probably going to go in about the fifth round.
Q. When you look at Bridgewater, your evaluation of him a couple weeks ago to now, the significance of pro day, is he falling on most analyst's boards because of that pro day or are they going back and watching tape or are we catching up to how NFL teams see him as a prospect? Where do you see that fall for him occurring?
I've said over and over that in addition to myself, I think NFL teams feel like they need to see quarterbacks throw the ball live. Of course, their scouts get out there during the year and do that.
From my perspective, watching him throw live was unsettling. All I wanted to see was him confirm what I saw on tape, was that he had adequate to good arm strength. I didn't see that in person. I didn't see the accuracy. I know he was nervous.
From my perspective, seeing him throw the football live was a cross-check that I needed to go back and watch more tape.
I think a lot of the NFL teams have done the same thing. I've talked to NFL teams that had a higher opinion of him four months ago than they do today. So I think that's why we have a process.
As far as the pro days are concerned, the only position where you have to see a guy live I think is quarterback. That's the only one in 10 or 11 years of me doing pro days where it made me go back and reevaluate a quarterback and change his grade.
Q. Garoppolo, obviously you've had a chance to see him in person. He's risen up as far as his draft stock is concerned. Where could you see him going and what team do you think could be a good fit for him?
Well, I think the way the quarterback thing lays out is interesting. In some way, shape or form, I think Manziel, Bortles and Carr are going to go in the first round. Then you get into a conversation of the next tier of guys. Different teams like different players.
In that next tier is Garoppolo, Mettenberger and Bridgewater, maybe McCarron. If you look at those teams that are in the top eight of the draft that don't take quarterbacks in the first round, they're going to be looking for them early in the second round or to trade back up into the first round.
If Cleveland at 26 takes Carr, if he's still available, or somebody tried to get up in front of them, Garoppolo is in the conversation at that point. Cleveland could be interested in him. I think a lot of those teams are going to be interested in him because, A, he's got a quick release, B, he's got good feet, C, he's the kind of kid that loves it, embraces it, and could be the face of your franchise.
Q. The Giants, it seems like over the last month they've gone from projecting to taking a tackle in Donald, a wide receiver in Evans, Ebron. Seems like they're going all over the place. Who might they be looking to target with a week to go? Who do you think they would take?
I think the logical three candidates for them are either Zack Martin, Eric Ebron or the wide receiver Evans. I'm not sure how this draft is going to fall. I know that you can take Zack Martin. Of course, they signed Charles Brown and John Jerry. But Martin could play guard, he could play center, he could play tackle. If he's there, and I don't think he's going to be, will the wideout Evans be there, I think there's a good chance he won't be.
I look at it and go where Eric Ebron goes. I think that would be a great pick. They need somebody in today's world, I don't care if it's wideout or tight end, I just want an offensive weapon, and that's what he is.
Q. It was said that the Bears are examining and cross-examining cornerbacks that could convert to safety, and they're doing this out of necessity. In your opinion, which corners this year do you think would be the best candidates to make that conversion to safety at the NFL level?
There's a bunch of guys that could play both this year. Marqueston Huff from Wyoming, potential third round corner safety. Dontae Johnson from North Carolina State, potential corner or safety. Lamarcus Joyner. I have a second-round grade on him from Florida State.
Then some guys who could be fourth or fifth round, Antone Exum from Virginia Tech, Dez Southward from Minnesota. All those guys are intriguing as corners or safeties.
Q. West Virginia, where does Charles Sims rank among the running backs in this year's draft? Also a quick question on Will Clarke, the defensive end. How much did the East/West and Senior Bowl help them?
Will Clarke I think is one of the fastest-rising players on draft board. He doesn't get much attention nationally because he's not a first-round pick. Heading into the East/West game, he was a late draftable afterthought. He had a good week there. He's got a frame at 6'6", a long defensive end that can put weight on.
In a draft that doesn't have a lot of edge rushers, he goes to the Senior Bowl, people saw him. He tested well. I have him in the third round right now. It's really helped him. The whole process has helped him.
As far as the running back, Sims, I have four in the second round right now, two or three in the third round, then I have him in the fourth round along with Ka'Deem Carey, Jerick McKinnon and Seastrunk from Baylor. I think he's going to fit right in that fourth round.
Q. Charles Ross, haven't heard a lot about him. Also the upswing of talent that's coming out getting into the NFL in the last couple years, James Casey, Jarett Dillard, Luke Willson, Vance McDonald. Just your thoughts on how they're doing and how it relates to the draft.
The big tailback is an interesting guy. I haven't heard any draftable grades on him late. He could be drafted late. But he's a big, strong kid with production. The running back class in general has been devalued. Typically only about 21 to 23 running backs are going to be drafted. There are a significant number of 225-pound backs, I kind of categorize them, the smaller backs, 218, 225, there's a bunch of those guys in this draft. I think he'll be a priority free agent with an ability to make a team.
As far as the Houston program, there's no doubt. You mentioned the names. It's kind of fun to see. I don't see any reason why it shouldn't continue.
Q. As far as the Texans are concerned, I heard you say you hope they take Clowney. In your opinion, should they do that? Should they trade down? Other than what you already said, is there anything differently you see them doing?
I didn't really say that. I think they could take him if they're forced to sit at number one. The comment I made from the combine forward, and I still believe, is that first and foremost they have to evaluate all the quarterbacks and make sure if they fall in love with a quarterback, you got to believe in him, you got to take him at one. That trumps everything else.
If you don't fall in love with a quarterback, and I think it will be difficult for them to say, Yeah, that's the guy, secondly I'd like to see them considering trading down. They're doing a good job showing people they're interested in Clowney, in Manziel, perhaps Mack, forcing people to come to them as far as a trade up or a trade down.
I think they ought to try to trade down. To me that would be the best thing for the Houston franchise, if they were able to trade down to four, five, six, get an impact player and extra picks. If you can't do that, I think they're going to take Clowney.
I think one of two things can happen if they do that. He either becomes part of your defense and you move forward, or you've controlled value at the top end of the draft and you may be able to trade him after that during the draft.
That's the scenario, and I think the best case for Houston would be to trade down.
Q. Could you evaluate some Notre Dame prospects, Chris Watt and T.J. Jones. As far as 2015 prospects for Notre Dame, who jumps out to you?
As far as next year, I haven't had enough connection with that group of players. I did the spring game. I don't think I'm qualified yet to talk about those 2015 guys until I see them practice this year.
As far as Chris Watt, love the kid, love watching him play. He and Zack Martin were tremendous on the left side of that offensive line the last three years. Two schools of thought. One school of thought is he's not a big enough bodied guard. Some of the teams don't like him as much because of that. Other teams love his toughness and athleticism.
He could play for a zone team. I think he could still play for a man team because he's so smart and takes great angles.
I have him in my third round, which might be a little bit rich for some teams. I think he's a solid fourth-round guard and I'd be surprised if he slid beyond that.
T.J. Jones I thought grew up a little bit last year. Had his best year. Became a leader. Learned how to play the position better. I think he provides value. I think he can play inside and out. I think ultimately inside as a slot is where he'll find his home. He'll have to play some special teams, be willing to compete and be physical early in his career.
I think T.J. probably goes in the fifth round somewhere. He's coming off his best year ever.
Q. As far as the 49ers are concerned, obviously there are question marks about Aldon Smith, his availability this season, even beyond this season. Which defensive end/outside linebackers do you see as being Aldon Smith like, somebody the 49ers might be able to pick up perhaps second or third round in this draft?
Aldon Smith like? You're probably not going to find that. There are some intriguing 3-4 outside linebacker candidates in the second and third rounds. DeMarcus Lawrence from Boise is one of them. Marcus Smith from Louisville. Trent Murphy, right in your backyard at Stanford, is an intriguing guy because he's engendered comments both positively and negatively. There's a lot of scouts and coaches, especially the 4-3 teams don't like him, fifth and sixth round grades, but the 4-3 teams like him.
The four guys I would focus in on if you don't get one in the first round would be those three plus Jeremiah Attaochu from Georgia Tech. They're the four guys that in the first hundred picks will be off the board for 3-4 outside linebacker teams.
Q. There are several Oklahoma Sooners who gave Stoops a lot of mileage. I don't see many of them moving up of the draft board. Do you have any Sooners on your radar?
The guy I'm intrigued by is the guy that got hurt last year, Millard. I thought he had a chance to be a third round pick, which is atypical for a fullback. Because of the injury, he's kind of fallen off the face of the earth.
Somebody is going to get a value on that kid. He's a point-of-attack player. He can catch, run, lead block. I think he brings something special to the table and I hope he goes in the fourth round or so because I really like him.
Ikard is maybe not as physically gifted as some centers are, but he's smart, takes great angles, he is keeps his hands tight. He understands the game. I would kind of not worry about where he gets drafted as far as round and worry that he got someplace with an opportunity because he's a really good football player.
The guy I really like, two names really, the wide receiver Saunders, really like this kid. I mean, I think he's one of the toughest players in the draft despite his size. He'll be a special teams player, a return guy, a gunner, a jammer. He can play slot. He's got long speed. The only thing holding him back is size.
I feel horribly for Aaron Colvin. I think he would have been a late one to mid two if he hadn't had the ACL. I think he'll probably go still in the fourth round and somebody is going to get a tremendous value on him.
Q. A question about the second and third day offensive tackles. Where do you see the value in that position and do you expect a run in the second day on that position?
It's a good question because it's not as deep a tackle draft as some people might have you believe. I think there's going to be a couple separate runs. The first is in the first round. I think you're going to see five tackles go.
Then I have four guys before kind of the ground falls away and there's a big drop. So Joel Bitonio, who a lot of people like inside. Morgan Moses. Mewhort from Ohio State, who a lot of people see inside. And Jiwan James from Tennessee, who I think is a starting right tackle. Those are the guys on the second day, second and third round guys.
Then there's a significant drop-off. So I do think there's going to be a run on those four guys.
Then the questions become, you know, Seantrel Henderson has first-round talent from Miami, but he's had so many issues off the field. Tiny Richardson from Tennessee. Schofield from Michigan. Cameron Fleming from Stanford. They're all right tackles. I think Hurst is a swing tackle from North Carolina. They're all a drop-off ability-wise with the exception of Henderson. I think there are going to be a couple tackle runs.
Q. You mentioned Dennard going to the Lions. But you also mentioned Kyle Fuller is your top corner. Could you expand a little bit on your thinking there, whether or not Fuller might be an option for the Lions at 10.
Let me explain the corners this way, and I mentioned this a little bit before. I personally prefer Fuller and Dennard. I think they're the best football players today.
They're not as naturally gifted as Gilbert from Oklahoma State and Roby from Ohio State. So it really depends what you're looking for. Are you looking for more upside? For instance, the kid Gilbert could go number 10 to Detroit. He's got return ability in the kick game. He's explosive. He's got beautiful hips. He can turn and run. He's got more upside than any corner in the draft. However, he's highly inconsistent.
I would say the same thing about Roby. Roby has had some off-the-field issues. But his hips, his turning ability, his upside is incredible.
I just happen to prefer football players that I trust more. I trust Dennard and I trust Fuller, either one of which I think would be a great pick at 10.
Q. Pete Carroll likes to play big at split end. If they were to go that direction, either at 32 or 64, who are some players that might fit into that category?
They're all over the place this year. I don't think Kelvin Benjamin will be there. I think he'll be off the board in the 20s. He's 6'5", 230. I think Davante Adams from Fresno is a possibility. Cody Latimer. It's interesting, the four guys I grouped in the second round are all big wide receivers. Matthews from Vanderbilt, and Martavis Bryant, in the back of my mind I think of him as a Seahawk because I think Pete isn't typically scared away from guys that have some minor character issues or immaturities.
Bryant has first-round talent, but one year of college production. I think in the back of my mind, Oh, my goodness, what if Pete got ahold of that guy?
In the third round, Allen Robinson from Penn State is a big guy with real good run after the catch. Donte Moncrief from Ole Miss. Those guys are all 6'2" plus with the ability to run and separate.
Q. What do you think of Donte Moncrief and what are some possible team fits for him?
Moncrief is a guy that drops the ball too much, double catches it a little bit too much. I get nervous. When I see a wide receiver with drops and double catches, I get nervous. He's got to convince teams that he can be a consistent catcher of the football. He's a little bit straight line fast. He's got to learn how to run routes.
I have him late third round. I think the West Coast teams will like him because he could run the slants, throw it into his body. Any of those teams that focus on the West Coast offense would make sense for him. I'm hoping his best football is ahead of him as he continues to develop the craft of playing wide receiver.
Q. You see a lot of talk about how there's so many wide receivers available in the draft. How closely do you think teams will consider character issues, whether they're a locker room fit, that type of thing? Why do you think it seems to be more of an issue with that position in general?
I have no idea why wideouts are considered divas other than the fact that history tells you they are. Maybe it's because they score a lot of touchdowns, score a lot of points. I don't know why that's the case. It just historically has proven to be true.
I'm not sure if this year is different than any other year. I think you're obliquely referring to DeSean Jackson in this question. When DeSean Jackson came out of Cal, there's a reason he didn't come the first round. He didn't go first round because he was a pain in the butt in college, too.
Teams are going to look at off-the-field stuff. They're either going to take you off the board or they're going to put you in a lower round just because it's less risk for the reward. So I'm not sure how else to answer that one.
Q. Colts question. Two years ago Ryan Grigson had first or second pick. Last year he got a couple guys who contributed. Is that reverting to the mean? Do you have any thoughts on the huge disparity between the two years?
Obviously is when you start with a franchise quarterback, it makes everybody better. The Andrew Luck thing was huge.
Secondly, Ryan Grigson is a grinder and came up the right way and he understands talent. This guy found some talent all over the board. There are a couple of guys buried on that roster. What's the name of the kid that was the rugby player?
Anyway, my point is Ryan is a grinder. I believe the way he grew up in this business, he's always going to be slightly ahead of the curve. He's going to draft well. He's going to stay consistent. He's not going to panic.
I think the answer to your question is Andrew Luck.
Q. A quick question on the Patriots, what do you think about them at 29?
Yeah, 29 is interesting. Obviously they've had some age and injury issues on their interior defensive line with Wilfork and Tommy Kelly. I also think a tight end would be intriguing there. A guy like Jace Amaro from Texas Tech, who I have a second round grade on, kind of gives them another option at tight end with Gronkowski, I find that intriguing, kind of playing that Hernandez role.
I think the safety situation at some point needs to be addressed. As you know with Bill, you never know what's going to happen except for the fact he's probably going to move down and around.