The NFL Network’s lead NFL Draft Analyst Mike Mayock took part in an NFL Network conference call with national media members on Friday in the lead up to the 2017 NFL Draft.
We thought it might be worth checking out Mayock's thoughts ahead of the draft this week. Mayock talked specifically about which pass rusher would be a good fit for the Cowboys at No. 28, explained why he sees Taco Charlton more as a base end in a 3-4 defense, and gave some insight into his ranking of cornerbacks at the top of the draft in reply to a question about the Eagles.
Lots of stuff to think about. Here are Mayock's thoughts on the Cowboys and many of the prospects the Cowboys have brought in for pre-draft meetings.
Q. You have the Dallas Cowboys picking at 28, and Charles Harris, Takk McKinley, and T.J. Watt are all there. Who do you think is the best fit for Dallas, and your thoughts of those three guys playing a 4-3 D-end?
MIKE MAYOCK: I'm not sure they'll be there. Charles Harris has picked up some steam. I would expect him to be gone before that. But if he was there, I'd think he'd be a great pick for them, especially from -- in addition to talent, he's got an awful lot of talent, and he gets in that three-point stance and he goes. He's a long guy, plays hard. Got a great work ethic. He's really good off the field, high-character guy. If Charles Harris was there, I think he'd make a ton of sense.
Takk McKinley from UCLA, you can say the same things about how hard he plays, what kind of kid he is. He's coming off shoulder surgery and had a couple concussions. So there are some medical issues around him. I think once you get past that, and most teams have, if he's there at 28, he makes some sense.
He doesn't bend as well as Harris. He's a little stiffer, but he's really an explosive, straight line player.
And T.J. Watt, it's interesting, because he's only a one-year starter. He was a tight end. He had two knee operation surgeries in college. Didn't get on the field as a starter until last year. He shows twitch, toughness, and quickness. He's got some length. The 4-3 teams think he can play 4-3. The 3-4 teams think they can play outside linebacker. He's obviously got some bloodlines which are legit. He plays really hard. I've got him in the second round, but if you're sitting there in the first round and you've got to have that position, T.J. Watt can play.
Q. Two players I wanted to ask you about, one was Harris from Missouri. Do you see him as a 3-4 or 4-3 guy? And then Taco Charlton from Michigan, how big of a sack producer can he be in the NFL, or is he more of a left end type?
MIKE MAYOCK: Yeah, I think Charles Harris can play in either a 3-4 or 4-3. It's interesting, because the edge rush group this year between Barnett, McKinley, Harris, Watt, all four of those guys could kind of fit. I think they fit the 3-4 thing very well. But I think they've played enough 4-3 end where they've got enough size and length to at least play in sub-package downs. I think Charles Harris is one of those guys.
As far as Taco Charlton is concerned, he's intriguing. I wonder why he didn't play more football prior to this year. He's got length, he's got power, he's got athletic ability. He doesn't have the twitch. Like I wanted him to be Carlos Dunlap because they're very similar size. Dunlap ran 4.72, and Charlton ran 4.92.
So what you see on tape is what I saw at the combine where he doesn't quite have the twitch of an elite edge rusher, so I think he's more of a base 3-4 end. And there is nothing wrong with that. You can be a good football player that plays eight to ten years in the league, and I've got a second round grade on him.
Q. I wanted to ask you about Tarell Basham of Ohio University. What is your assessment of him, and what range of round might he go this week?
MIKE MAYOCK: Yeah, he's really fun to watch. He's also 6'4", 269, long arms. He ran 4.7. If you watch his Tennessee game, he's got two sacks. Tremendous motor, really. I think he's a guy that has very quietly helped himself throughout the process. His tape looks good. He's from a mid-major. He gets to the Senior Bowl. He plays well, ran well at the combine, he's done everything right.
At this point -- and, remember, this is a very deep edge class, at this point I have him at the top of the third round, but that doesn't mean he can't go mid to late second round. So he's really helped himself. And I think he's best for a base 4-3 team, but has shown just enough athleticism that he could probably stand up if he had to.
Q. UCF cornerback Shaquill Griffin came on kind of late in the NFL combine, had a good showing. How important is the interview process for a kid like him that's sort of looked at as a potential sleeper?
MIKE MAYOCK: Yeah, you kind of break it up into different things. His game tape, number one. It's good game tape. He had 28 passes broken up in the last two years, six interceptions the last two years, and he's 6', 190-plus, and ran really fast. Ran a 4.39 and 4.4, so the tape was pretty solid. The combine was really good.
Now it's about trying to get the notes to Griffin. And that's an important part of this entire process. Obviously I'm not privy to being in those meetings, so I don't know how he did individually with people. I do know that a lot of defensive back coaches really like him. I think he's got a chance to go in the third round, but I don't think he gets out of the fourth round.
Q. Obviously the Eagles sit at 14, and it seems to be a pretty good spot for them. Then at the cornerback position, we hear how deep it is, but is there a guy who you think is going to be available then that's worthy of that pick?
MIKE MAYOCK: Yeah, I think the issue is there are two injuries at the cornerback position in pro-day workouts. So Sidney Jones, who, I think, would have been an ideal selection for the Eagles at 14, tore his Achilles. Fabian Moreau from UCLA tore his pec. So everything gets pushed down a little bit.
So if Lattimore is off the board in the first five, six, seven picks, like he probably will be, the next guy up for me is Conley. And I don't know if Conley gets to 14.
If Conley doesn't get to 14, the next guy for me is Marlon Humphrey. And I love everything about Marlon Humphrey except he struggled to find the football in the air with his back to the quarterback. That's a huge deal.
So I look at it this way. If Conley's on the board at 14, you have to compare him to the best play maker on offense on your board. Because I'm not convinced the Eagles should go defense, to be honest with you. If Conley's not there, I think you want to get your corner in the second or third round. I think you need two corners.
So I keep telling people, I think they should go offense at 14. I'm not sure there are any game changers there at 14. If Conley is there, you have to look at it. After that, I'd rather go in the second or third round and get Chidobe Awuzie, and I'd even go down to the fourth round and get Damontae Kazee. There are a bunch of guys out there that can do certain jobs.