ESPN’s two draft “experts”, Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay, have a much publicized feud to determine who will be top dog for the mother ship in March and April for all matters draft related. The NFL Network, however, doesn’t have this problem. Mike Mayock is the undisputed top draft specialist for the fledgling network, and I personally prefer him to both Kiper and McShay. Mayock is confident and competent enough to deviate from the norm, but he doesn’t do it simply to get attention. Overall, I’m not saying everything he says is gospel, but I do respect his opinions more than any other draft analyst.
Apparently, Peter King feels the same way about Mayock. King published an article today on SI.com which detailed points about the draft that Mayock expressed to King. Now I’m not saying that this makes King a glorified secretary, but you have is one football writer (King) that interviewed another football writer (Mayock). If a respectable reporter like Peter King can publish an article based completely off another journalist’s thoughts and ideas, why can’t I? I bring you now, reading between the lines: Mike Mayock.
Author’s Note: The points in quotation marks are direct quotes of Mike Maycok, while the ones without quotation marks are paraphrases of Mayock’s views by Peter King.
1. "This is by far the worst year for the top 10 that I've seen. Down around 18, 20, you'll get every bit the player you'll get in the top 10 for a third of the price.''
This point, coupled with the astronomical costs of top 10 picks, is probably why Detroit and St. Louis have announced that they are willing to trade their picks to a willing team. It might be because we are so used to focusing on players attainable with the 15th pick by this point, but how many of the players slated to be top 10 selections have we spent time coveting? I’ve seen conversations of longing about Aaron Curry and BJ Raji on BRB, but that’s about it. Coincidentally, the 18-20 range is exactly are target range to trade down.
2. His gut feeling is Detroit's taking Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford with the first pick of the draft.
You can be certain that Mayock is not making this pick with his heart because he’s gone on record several times that he doesn’t think Stafford is an elite QB and therefore isn’t worth the first overall pick. It’s hard to tell if people are following a trend or not, but since Stafford’s Pro Day, everyone seems to be jumping on the “Detroit takes Stafford” bandwagon. I don’t think this really affects us too much because I believe that if Stafford fell to Seattle they would take him.
3. "I can't bang the table for Stafford the way I did for Matt Ryan last year. I don't see an elite player in him every time I watch, which you need to see if you're taking a quarterback that high.''
See, told you. When Mayock evaluates QB’s I tend to listen though. Last year he liked Joe Flacco but absolutely loved Matt Ryan and didn’t hesitate to let anybody know. That doesn’t bode well for Stafford, or the team that ends up with him.
4. Mayock, if he had his choice of first-round picks for talent and value, would be around 22. "The value in this draft is at 15 and beyond.''
15 you say? I still would love to orchestrate a trade to get closer to his “optimal range”. Taking a deal with Detroit for their 20th and 33rd would be great because we could get a combo like Clint Sintim and Sean Smith. In the end, any trade to get in that range will do though.
5. He says eight or nine tight ends will be drafted in the first three rounds. He loves the best of the bunch, Oklahoma State's Brandon Pettigrew. (I'd love to see the Bills land him, by the way. Perfect offensive weapon for a coordinator, Turk Schonert, who loves to use the tight end.)
Peter King added something original! Many people believe 11 is too early to take Pettigrew, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Buffalo lands him. Jauron knows he has to win this year or he’s gone, and he’s willing to do just about anything to do it, i.e. go along with the signing of T.O. Also, don’t overlook the fact that Pettigrew not only helps the passing game by providing another target, but he helps the running game with his excellent in-line blocking.
6. He likes Eugene Monroe over Jason Smith, if you're picking a franchise tackle. "Smith's got a better upside. Very aggressive. But Monroe's got the best feet in the draft. He's a really accomplished technician.''
To be honest, I don’t really care because not only is there no chance that we’ll land either of these guys, but no one in our division will either. If I had to pick, I would personally go Smith over Monroe because of the upside.
7. He thinks Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry -- who Detroit would play at middle linebacker if the Lions made him the first pick of the draft -- would be optimally used at strongside linebacker in the 4-3 because he can cover, he can play physically over the tight end, and he's got upside pass-rushing ability.
I agree with this. Curry is talented enough to play any LB position, but he’d be a beast at SLB. Analysts’ biggest knock on Curry is his lack of pass rushing ability, but just because he wasn’t asked to blitz in college doesn’t mean he can’t. Curry isn’t guaranteed to be an All Pro, but he will be a huge boost to whoever selects him.
8. He's scared of Brian Orakpo, the Texas defensive end who's the apple of a few teams' eyes in the top half of the first round. "Buyer beware,'' Mayock said. "He's boom or bust. I don't know if he's DeMarcus Ware or Vernon Gholston. I've seen him have some really good games, and I've seen what I considered to be Brandon Pettigrew tearing him apart. The point is, I don't see it all the time from Orakpo, which concerns me.''
Mayock just won over beefy. I’m sure he feels lucky. I think a comparison between Gholston and Orakpo is over-doing it, but I wouldn’t want to take him at 5.
9. Of the elite quarterbacks, he likes USC's Mark Sanchez the best. "He's the most ready made for the pro game right now.''
There’s a growing trend in the NFL that a QB has to be ready to play immediately which I partially disagree with. If you’re in a situation that you have no other QB’s, than this strategy makes sense, but if you have any other options I would rather pick the other guy. You might have to develop him more, but if you feel he’s going to be better in the end I would prefer him.
10. If you need a cornerback in this draft, sit it out. There are no corners even well above average, never mind great.
I don’t know if this is King’s opinion or Mayock’s, but I think it’s a little exaggerated. I would agree that CB isn’t especially deep, but there are some decent options. Excluding Malcolm Jenkins who will probably play FS, Darius Butler and Vontae Davis are both viable CB choices.
Even though I was ribbing Peter King, I don’t fault him for publishing an article with Mayock’s thoughts because he often doesn’t write much himself; instead he appears on TV a lot. In fact, Mayock doesn’t usually produce a mock draft until early to mid April, which I’ve been eagerly anticipating. Mayock’s mocks usually prove to be extremely accurate, but more on that when he actually publishes his first one of this year.