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2011 NFL Combine: Mike Mayock On Defensive Prospects (Part 2)

In part two of Mike Mayock's call transcript, we look at the questions where he focused on defensive prospects in the 2011 draft.

Mayock is very high on Wisconsin's J.J. Watt, likes Von Miller for a 3-4 but sees Robert Quinn as better suited for a four-man front. He also shares some thoughts on corners and safeties in this draft class.

The transcript is provided by the NFL Network, we have simply grouped some of the Q&As that deal with the defensive prospects in the draft together.

Defensive Prospects

Q.  If you're picking a three four end to be a play maker, top of the draft, who are the guys you're watching in the next few months and who should you take?

MIKE MAYOCK:  Some really good three four ends this year.  I'm very impressed with J.J. Watt from Wisconsin.  He can play inside or outside.  He's a monster, and he could be sitting there when San Diego picks at 18, although I think he'll be gone.

Cam Jordan from Cal had a great week in Senior Bowl.  Love him.  He's a five technique defensive end.  Cam Hayward from Ohio State, if you put on the Sugar Bowl - not the Sugar Bowl - put their Bowl game on and he dominated that game.  It was phenomenal against Arkansas.

As you go down, Muhammad Wilkerson from Temple.  He might be there in the second round, but to me he's a first round player.  This is one of the better years I've seen.  You could pick up a Brandon Bair from Oregon in the third or fourth round.  So there are a bunch of those three four defensive ends out there this year.

Q.  The defensive coordinator with the Niners likes to bring a lot of pressure and bring in the three four, they don't have a great pass rushing outside linebacker.  Can you talk about they're picking seven, the guys that would make sense?

MIKE MAYOCK:  I think that Von Miller from Texas A&M is the prototype 3 4 rush linebacker.  He's got an amazing ability to not only have a great get off and quickness, but also to bend his body to twist and turn, flatten the corner to get to a quarterback.

He's a tiny bit undersized and you've got to get yourself comfortable with that.  He's not as big as a DeMarcus Ware was when he came out but I think he's tough enough to overcome that.

If you're talking about in the first round at number 7 and you're looking for an edge rusher, I think Von Miller is the guy as far as the outside linebackers are concerned.  I think there are a bunch of guys, as I mentioned before, that I think the defensive end in a 3-4, you could probably pick a real good one up early in the second round.

I think some people are going to look at Clayborn from Iowa as a conversion guy, a defensive end that could play outside linebacker.  Didn't have a great senior year.

And outside of that, Da'Quan Bowers and Robert Quinn are two of the most gifted pass rushers in this draft.  I think they're both fitted more for a four three than a three four.

Q.  I was curious about the Browns at number six, and kind of the dilemma of number one receiver or defensive end.  I don't know how you feel about that.  And do you think Quinn not playing last year is a big detriment that early?

MIKE MAYOCK:  I think as this draft gets closer, you're going to see Quinn's name move higher and higher.  I've actually just ordered a bunch more tape from him in '09 because I've got to figure him out better.

I do know he's a physical freak.  He's probably best fitted in the four man front.  You could probably make a Julius Peppers comparison if you want to stay within the same school he goes to.  He's a special, special athlete.  You've got to figure him out off the field.  He's obviously got some baggage.

MIKE MAYOCK:  The guy that I think will rise up in this draft as we get closer is a junior from Illinois named Corey Liuget, defensive tackle.  I think he's a top 20 pick.  I think he's the ideal three-technique, defensive tackle, quick up the field, penetrating kind of guy.  I really like him a lot.

Then as far as the defensive ends, you heard me mention a bunch of them.  I think Bowers will be gone.  I think Quinn will be gone.  You've got to look at Clayborn real hard.  He's an edge guy with great burst up the field.  Some of the three four teams are looking at him also.  But I think he can play in that four three scheme.

Q.  I've got a multi part question about Aldon Smith.  The NFL Network sent out the top 5 at each position, I believe it was dated yesterday.  You don't have him listed either at defensive end or outside linebacker.  Just what do you think of Aldon?  Is he the classic guy who should have stayed in school for at least another year?  Ideally do you see him as a three four or outside linebacker and a four three end?  Is there a guy that when you watch him, he kind of reminds of you of who is kind of in the league right now?

MIKE MAYOCK:  Yeah, he's an interesting kid.  You could go Jason Pierre Paul.  The first tape I saw of Jason Pierre Paul, and I saw a little Simeon Rice.  One of whom is a defensive end, one of whom is an outside linebacker.  So he's got a little of that ability to go either way.

When you're going through my top 5 list, unfortunately, because it's only top 5, you heard me mention earlier I've got eight or nine defensive ends that I have first round grades on.  So I'm not trying to disrespect Aldon Smith.  I've got him as my number seven defensive end, which puts him in my first round as far as a first round grade.

Now he played hurt a lot this year.  I have had several scouts tell me he had a more explosive year the year before.  The '09 tape is apparently better, but I've only seen the 2010 tape.

But I think he's a kid that's too explosive and too fast to not go in the first round.  He may even go higher than I have him right now.  But people want to qualify him, see how big he is.

Like all these juniors, the first real exposure the NFL gets with these kids live is at the Combine.  And that's a big piece of what's going to happen next week.  Those kind of kids.  How do they work out and present themselves?  Even what they weigh and how long are they?

So Aldon Smith to me is a first round pick, and he probably could play in either scheme but that is something we need to see at the Combine in the drills.

Q.  Can you tell me about some of the prospects in Southern California schools, and in particular what you think of UCLA?

MIKE MAYOCK:  To me, Akeem Ayers I've got him, I believe, as my number two outside linebacker prospect.  He's played both with his hand in the dirt and up.  He played linebacker at UCLA.  I think he's got first round ability because of his natural ability to get to the quarterback.

Most of the three four teams are very interested in him.  Although I think he can play in a four three scheme.  So if you're scheme diverse, that's a good thing.

Secondly, Rahim Moore, the free safety at UCLA, in a bad, bad safety year, he's the best safety out there.  Whether or not that gets him in the first round, I don't know.

He reminds me a little bit of a poor man's kid from Texas last year who I loved.  Why am I drawing a blank?  Started for Seattle this year.


MIKE MAYOCK:  Thank you.  You can tell how quickly they leave my mind.  He reminded me on tape a little bit of Earl Tomas.  Not quite as good, but he's got great range.  I think he'll fit somewhere late one to mid two.

The defensive tackle, Jurrell Casey looks like a late one to mid two.  Reminds me of the Patterson kid from a year ago.  Then there are several other kids, as there always are at USC, whether it's Ron Johnson the wide out, Shareece Wright, the corner.  They're more middle round guys, third, fourth round type of guys.

Q.  Patrick Peterson, how do you rank him compared to Joe Haden of a year ago?  And additionally, can he invade the top defensive linemen in this draft?  Is he good enough to take at six?

MIKE MAYOCK:  Patrick Peterson is potentially a top 10 pick, yeah.  He's a big corner.  Here's my take on Patrick Peterson is that whenever you see a corner of his size    you're talking about plus or minus 220 pound corner he's got a little bit of stiffness to him that the longer, bigger corners always do or usually do.

So he's most comfortable in press man.  If you try to play him in off man, he's going to struggle a little bit.  So I believe you need a team that's going to let him press, get up in your face, knock him out at the line of scrimmage and turn and run.

He's got a little stiffness to him, but ultimately he might be best served as a safety.  I think he can play corner, but down the road a little bit, because he's a big, strong tough guy that can run, I think he might be an all pro safety.

After Amukamara and Patrick Peterson, there is a drop off.  And I'm not sure the kid from Texas, Aaron Williams, and I'm not sure    I don't like the Miami kid up are there, Brandon Harris.  So I don't think there is a fit for the Ravens at corner at 26.

I do think a receiver will be there, and I do know that some of those defensive linemen and linebacker types that they like will be there.

Having said all that, it's a tough comparison with Joe Haden because Haden's a smaller, quicker guy with feet.  They're different types of animals.  So Patrick Peterson is certainly a guy that could be considered in the top 10.  But I think it has to fit the type of team.  Somebody that's going to let him get up, press, be physical at the line of scrimmage.  That's where he'll be the best player he can be.

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