A Combine Reality Check

Mike Mayock’s 10 Thoughts on the class of ’14

Khalil Mack, whom Mayock sees as a top-10 talent. (Andrew Hancock/SI/The MMQB)
 Mayock sees Buffalo’s Khalil Mack as a top-10, “maybe top-five,” talent. (Andrew Hancock/SI/The MMQB)

The NFL Network draft czar’s words, not mine, were best on draft wild card Jadaveon Clowney, the pass-rusher who had a poor year at South Carolina but still is seen as a very high pick. Said Mayock: “He’s got the physical makeup to be the best player in the draft. From a physical skill set, this kid is as freaky as they come. He plays a position of critical importance in today’s NFL, which is an ability to get the quarterback. My biggest concern is just what’s his mental makeup and how important is it to him when he gets a big paycheck to become the best player in football. Or is he just going to be happy to be a millionaire?”

Ten of Mayock’s opinions from his meeting with reporters this week:

1. “This is the deepest and best draft class I’ve seen in probably 10 years.”

2. “It’s the best wide receiver draft I have seen in years.”

Ra’Shede Hageman. (Michael Chang/Getty Images)
Ra’Shede Hageman. (Michael Chang/Getty Images)

3. “[University of Buffalo linebacker] Khalil Mack is a top-10 player. I actually think he’s a top-five player. I put the tape on not really knowing what to expect. The first tape I put in was Ohio State. He blew ’em up. He made plays all over the field—on the edge, dropping into coverage, explosion, hustle. He runs like a safety, explodes off the edge. Guys who have natural edge-rush ability are like gold. . . . He can also drop into coverage. I have yet to find a hole in his game.”

4. “You can go three rounds, four rounds deep this year and get a starting offensive tackle.”

5. “Johnny Manziel is a different evaluation, and I’ll give you my take on him right now. The first tape I put in was Alabama, and I put the tape down about two hours later and I said, ‘Wow, that was awesome.’ He extends plays, like a combination of Fran Tarkenton and Doug Flutie. There were two or three more tapes like that. I eventually got to the LSU and Missouri tapes, neither of which were really good tapes. I felt he got frustrated in the pocket, and I felt like LSU and Missouri did a great job with controlling their rush and keeping him in the pocket, and the more he was in the pocket, the more frustrated he got. He started to lose his accuracy. He started trying to escape the pocket way before he really needed to, and I feel he doesn’t like being confined. . . . NFL teams are going to clue into that quickly. I believe he has the arm strength, the athletic ability, the passion for the game. He’s different than any quarterback I have done. I believe in the kid. But you’re going to have to live with some of those negative plays as well as the positive.”

6. “I am looking forward to see how fast [USC wide receiver] Marqise Lee runs.”

More Combine

The combine is more than just prospects running fast and jumping high. Some of the best action takes place in Indy’s back rooms, Andrew Brandt writes. FULL STORY


Devin McCourty offers 10 pieces of advice for players in the combine. FULL STORY


Expect Jadeveon Clowney to rekindle the NFL's love affair with him after a down season, writes Andy Staples. FULL STORY


Meanwhile, check out Staples' top 50 prospects leading into the combine. FULL STORY

7. “I want to see the freaks—Jadaveon Clowney, Khalil Mack. There’s a kid from from Georgia Southern, Jerick McKinnon, who is going to work with the running backs. He can also play corner, and I’m anxious to watch his footwork.”

8. “The kid from Minnesota, [defensive tackle] Ra’Shede Hageman, I really going to be interesting. He’s 6-6, over 300 pounds, he was a high school basketball player. He’s got freakish athletic ability, and if he puts up the kind of numbers I think he can, in addition to Clowney we’re going to be talking about him. If he’s still on the board [for New England], because he’s an explosive kid and he can play a couple of different slots, coach Belichick likes those versatile guys.”

9. “The safest pick on the offensive line is Jake Matthews. He’s already a professional. You can plug him in on day one and he’ll play at a high level.”

10. “Michael Sam is a tweener. I think that is why people are having trouble with his evaluation. He’s got linebacker size, but he has the physical skill set of a defensive end. He is a tough fit. What I see is a situational player who can also become a core special-teams player, and I think he’s goes somewhere in the third to the fifth round. He’s really kind of tight-hipped, and I don’t think he can play linebacker.”

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20 comments
AJ1230
AJ1230

May Pete Carroll made some calls that kept Smith out of the combine just so he could nab him in the 7th.

John4
John4

I'm shocked at this, but I am starting to like many of the Seahawks more and more.  Richard Sherman?  One of my favorites from any team, and certainly one of the best CBs in the league.  Actually, he's one of the best players in the league.  

What really pisses me off is that my favorite team cant figure out how to function more like the Seahawks.  What a great defense.  

DougSchulze
DougSchulze

@Buck2185, you mad bro? Get over it already and stop whining. You sound like a typical forty-whiner fan. Are you seriously going to use the adderall excuse? Clearly, you know nothing about adderall or the real situation in Seattle. Find some new material, the adderall excuse is old and tired!

Buck2185
Buck2185

Wilson played beyond his potential because he was on the "Seattle Adderral" diet. Perhaps you can ask Richard Sherman to chime in and write about the topic........

Jim21
Jim21

It's all conjecture by the "draft experts" - if they were as good as picking talent that they thought they were, they'd be GM's for a team right now.

WarrenSappSucked
WarrenSappSucked

tom brady looked stupid at the combine. more than a decade later, he is the hottest player in the NFL, and it's not even close.

comments
comments

So ... who does the invites?

antwil205
antwil205

Lawrence Wilson was an excellent college player. And was easily top 5 linebacker in 2011 draft. He was projected 3rd round and skid because of his combine showing. Just look at all of his accolades in the big east. Freshman all America, big east freshman defensive freshman of year, 1st team big east 3 years. Led the big east in tackles 2 consecutive years and was top 5 in the country 3 out of 4 years. Defensive player of the year as senior, all time leading tackler at Uconn.. Led team to fiesta bowl. Lol, that's why he was invited. You get invited for on the field play. He was beast. If you didn't do much in college you can't expect to get invited. Same with senior bowl. He did have a bad combine showing which is why he slid. But if you had accolades like that I see your point but odds are he didn't. Wilson had sheer athleticism which allowed him to get over in college. In the NFL everyone has that and he is having trouble adjusting. Being caught with weed doesn't help either.

Dan13
Dan13

Peter, We all know this is an "NFL Production"!  What "secretary's day" is to Hallmark, the combine is to the NFL.  A made for TV event that matters very little.  A "manufactured important event".  Coaches have several ways to evaluate talent and while the combine might add a little "something" to their evaluation, I don't believe it weighs all that much.

SFCRET
SFCRET

A thought for those that expected to be invited but were not.  Perhaps those picking don't invite those they believe have nothing to prove.  They believe they know enough about you without your being evaluated at the combine.

AF Whigs
AF Whigs

I love the draft as much as anyone, but it's all pure speculation.  With as much time as the teams spend evaluating prospects you'd think they'd have it down to somewhat of a science by now.   But there are no "sure things", and every player is a crapshoot - probably because no one knows how these kids will respond to the sudden huge responsibilities of a pro career and lots of money.

John4
John4

@DougSchulze  Doug - "you mad bro" makes you come across like a tool.  Was that your intent? 

Buck2185
Buck2185

@WarrenSappSucked I'm sorry, I  don't recall him playing in the super bowl. I must have missed that...I do recall him playing mediocre, and losing in the AFC championship game. How is that for close??????

John4
John4

@antwil205  So he's a player more suited to the college game than for the NFL?

John4
John4

@AF Whigs   It not supposed to be pure speculation.  It's supposed to be NFL teams doing their job.  Teams have to understand when to pick a guy, and they have to understand which players should not be picked.  Some teams draft very well.  Some teams draft poorly.  That proves that your claim that the draft is "pure speculation" is only partially correct.  IF NFL teams could make better use of the draft to build their teams, they would be doing their jobs better.  (And remove some, if not most of the "speculation" you speak of with their drafting).  

scarbarough
scarbarough

@TylerGodefroy @John4 @DougSchulze  Do you honestly think he hasn't been tested for PEDs since 2012? If he was using adderall, he would have been caught by now. A tainted sample is a very real issue with a test.

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