The NFL Network’s lead NFL Draft Analyst and Scouting Combine head honcho Mike Mayock took part in a conference call with national media members yesterday in the lead up to the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine.
Mayock does these calls every year prior to the Combine, but unlike last year, the NFL Network didn't provide a transcript of the call this time, so you'll have to make do with my hastily scribbled transcript below - or listen to a 45 minute part of the call here.
While members of the Dallas media may have been in attendance, no specific questions were asked about the Cowboys in the segment, so Mayock didn't address the Cowboys specifically, but he did talk about a couple of players and topics that are of interest to Cowboys fans.
The soundbite of the day (for me) may have come when he mentioned Sean Lee as a Pro Bowler when he talked about Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly:
Think about Sean Lee. That’s the best comparison. Sean Lee went in the second round to Dallas but has become a Pro Bowl inside linebacker, and I think [Luke Kuechly] is very similar, has none of the knee issues Sean had and is a slightly better athlete.
After the break, find out what Mayock has to say about depth along the defensive line, offensive linemen and a selection of players that have been (at times) hotly debated on these boards.
The following is all transcribed verbatim from Mike Mayock's conference call audio. Any mistakes or omissions are mine.
Defensive line depth: Defensive tackle is really, really deep this year … I’ve got anywhere from 5-7 first-round grades on defensive tackles. They’re not all going [in the first round]. Probably four or five will go in the first round. … Conversely, not big on the defensive ends.
Cornerback depth: There’s three corners everybody kind of thinks are first round corners and then after that its kinda pick your flavor.
Interior O-line: One of the best classes in this draft are the interior offensive linemen. DeCastro for me is a first round interior offensive lineman. Peter Kontz, the center from Wisconsin is a late one to mid two. I think Zeitler from Wisconsin is also in that same range. And you might be able to get a guy like Ben Jones from Georgia late in the second round. I think there’s a lot of flexibility with that interior linemen draft. In the first three rounds you can get a lot of quality at center or either guard.
On Janoris Jenkins: Janoris Jenkins is one of the ultimate boom or bust guys in this draft. He’s got great ability but has slid a little bit just because of off-the-field [issues].
On Whitney Mercilus: He’s a fairly gifted kid, he’s got some natural pass rush ability. But because he’s an underclassman, we have no official measurements of him. We need to see how big the kid is before we talk about 4-3 or 3-4 or what position. What’s he weigh, how long is he, what’s his arm length – all those things we’ll find out next week.
As far as what I’ve seen on tape, he’s a little bit of a one-year wonder. People will want to know where he was before this past year. Again, natural pass rusher, I don’t think he is stout at the point of attack, I’m anxious to see what he weighs. I think he’s one of those borderline late one to mid two type guys and I think where he’ll be helped though is that there aren’t a whole lot of really strong DEs and OLBs in this draft. So that could push him up a little bit.
On Chase Minnifield: I like Minnifield. Good bloodlines, athletic kid, smart kid, plays well. I’ve got a second round grade on him right now
On Vontaze Burfict: Burfict I’m not a fan of at all …What I like to do is say, forget about all those penalties, all that stuff that surrounds him. What kind of football player is he? And I came away unimpressed. From my perspective, if he gets a chance at a blow-up hit - where he’s going to knock somebody into the next century – he’s going to take it and it’s going to look really good. That’s where he’s impressive. When he sees something, comes downhill and blows it up, it’s really good.
However, the other major percentage of the time, his instincts aren’t good, he gets enveloped by big bodies, he runs around blocks. For a big, strong guy, he’s nowhere near as good at the point of attack as I thought he would be. So that’s even before you factor in all the other elements. So from my perspective, I don’t see first round at all.
Players who need the Combine to up their stock:
- LaMichael James: A player we’ve only seen in one type of offense.
- From the wide receivers, Michael Floyd, Alshon Jefferey and Mohamed Sanu for sure all need big combines and another one is Jeff Fuller from Texas A&M. He is another one of those big-body guys who struggles to separate.
- All those tight ends. I don’t have a first round tight end. They’re all kind of the quick, Hernandez-type people. They’re not in-line type blockers. There’s not a whole lot you can do at the Combine if you’re a tight end except run fast.
- I mentioned Luke Kuechly. If he runs 4.7, in that range, he’s a top 15 pick. If he runs 4.8 or worse, there’s going to be a problem.
- For the defensive backs, it’s all about speed and quickness. A guy like Leonard Johnson from Iowa State, I think he plays better than he will time. If he times poorly, he could be a fourth round pick instead of a second round pick. Trumaine Johnson from Montana, he’s a looong, physical corner. is he a corner or a safety? He might be Malcolm Jenkins. Harrison Smith from Notre Dame. A lot of people think he’s not going to run well. I think he’s going to surprise people. He’s a really good football player. I’ve got a second round grade on him.