The NFL Network’s lead NFL Draft Analyst and Scouting Combine head honcho Mike Mayock took part in an NFL Network conference call with national media members on Thursday in the lead up to the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine.
We thought it might be worth checking out Mayock's thoughts ahead of the Combine, scheduled for Indianapolis from Feb. 23-March 1 in Lucas Oil Stadium. We'll run the the transcript of Mayock’s conference call, courtesy of the NFL Network, over three separate posts.
In today's part one, we focus on partial transcripts of what Mayock had to say about the top offensive linemen in the draft, the depth at right tackle and options long the interior line. The transcript is provided by the NFL Network, we have simply grouped some of the Q&As that deal with the offensive linemen in the draft together.
MIKE MAYOCK: Hey, everybody. Most of you know me. Basically, I'm going to give you about 15 seconds and then you can take it away. The bottom line is there are 330 kids invited to the Combine, plus or minus 250 of them will get drafted.
The challenge at the Combine is to make sure we satisfy everybody's taste for all the big name guys without disrespecting the guys that aren't big name guys. I think we try to do the best we can there.
I think this year you're going to see a ton of underclassmen, especially defensively, go early in this draft. The first round will probably be dominated by defense. Then I think the next two or three rounds you're going to see some more offensive players than defensive players.
It's the best defensive end class I've seen. And I think the four quarterbacks at the top of my list have got to be figured out. That is the key to this draft as far as the marquis [sic] names.
Offensive Line Prospects
Q. This is an interesting class for offensive tackles because the four marquis guys you saw at The Senior Bowl all of them have upside. I wonder if you could go through what you saw out of those four at The Senior Bowl. And also where do you see guys lining up and who might be, in the end, franchise quality?
MIKE MAYOCK: It's interesting because all of them showed some flaws at The Senior Bowl, and I just watched a bunch of the practice tape last week. For instance, we went into that week, and Nate Solder is 6'8" with a long wing span. But he showed that he was -- he's got some technique flaws.
He's got great feet, he's got long arms, but he had a propensity for getting beat inside. Most of it is technique, so you've got to buy into the fact that you can coach that and teach that, but he's got some issues. I think he's probably a year away from being a dominant left tackle, even though he's got the height, the weight, and the length that you want.
I think Castonzo was really solid all week in practice. They kicked him around to a bunch of different positions. I thought the kid did a great job in practice. And he had two or three really bad snaps in the game, again, a little bit technique wise. He got overextended. Got his weight out over his toes. So he's a guy that I like in the run game a little bit more than Solder.
And Carimi's really interesting. Carimi's a guy that's got less talent than either of them. But he's so well coached. He kicked inside the guard. He didn't miss a beat. He played right tackle. I think he's the kind of guy you draft late in the first round. You try him at left tackle, and if he can't handle the speed out there, you've got an all pro right tackle.
But this kid's well coached, tough and smart. Wouldn't surprise me if he could handle the left side.
And Derek Sherrod for Mississippi State is mostly a left tackle. He's all legs and arms, really long, good feet, and ultimately he's going to be a solid left tackle.
So all of those guys I think will be ultimately solid left tackles. You just have to figure out how high you want to go for a Solder or Castonzo when there are technical flaws that have to be fixed.
Q. Can you tell me about some of the prospects in Southern California schools, and in particular what you think of UCLA?
MIKE MAYOCK: Over at USC you've got the big offensive tackle [Tyron Smith]. Moving upwards, everybody's anxious to see what his real weight is. Nobody seems to know what it is. He looks like he's about 280, and everybody's hoping he's 300 plus. But what a great frame. Real good athletic ability, huge wing span. People are very anxious to see him at the Combine.
Q. How deep in the draft can you get a solid right tackle?
MIKE MAYOCK: You can go down in the third, fourth round and find some pretty solid guys. For instance, Jah Reid from Central Florida and Joe Barksdale from LSU. To me they're both going to be right tackles.
Jah Reid played in the East West game. You might even get him in the fourth or fifth round. He's a right tackle only. He's a huge kid. Doesn't look good in drills, but he looks good when you get 11 players on the field.
Barksdale is a little bit of an underachiever. A starter at LSU, all the height, weight and speed you want, but not real consistent. Jason Pinkston from Pitt, fourth or fifth round. So I think there's enough tackles in this draft.
And I'm a believer that you usually ought to be able to find a right tackle anyway. You're looking for a tough guy that's going to get some help from the running backs or H backs in the pass game that aren't quite as gifted as the left tackle, so they're easier to find.
Mayock's take on interior linemen:
MIKE MAYOCK: Couple of guys I'm intrigued by are Danny Watkins from Baylor, and Clint Boling who played tackle at Georgia. Both of them were tackles in college. Both of them I believe will be interior linemen.
Watkins is a Canadian kid who has only played four or five years of football. He's got some upside. He's a tough, nasty kid. And Boling is a better football player than I gave him credit for. I liked what he did at The Senior Bowl.
He's probably more of a second round guy. But there are some pretty good interior guys.
John Moffitt from Wisconsin, another second or third round interior guy. He can play center or guard, and Rodney Hudson from Florida State is another guy who has played guard. I think he might be a better center to be honest with you.
I could give you a bunch of different names because, for instance, Marcus Cannon from TCU is a kid who played tackle. I think he's better at guard. There is a small school kid named William Rackley from Lehigh who you could get from the third and fourth round, so I think he'll be a starter in the league.
It's a pretty good year for interior offensive linemen. You don't necessarily have to get them in the first round.