NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock held a conference call with media members this afternoon. For the eighth straight year the NFL Network will broadcast the NFL Scouting Combine from Indianapolis beginning next Thursday, Feb. 23.
And Mayock, considered one of the best in the business, is at the center of their coverage.
I asked Mayock about Seattle’s draft needs and what positions they will consider with the No. 11 or No. 12 overall pick.
Mayock said he’s watched a lot of Seattle Tarvaris Jackson because he still does the Minnesota preseason games and likes the Seattle quarterback’s skill set – to a point.
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“I like him,” Mayock said. “He’s developed to a certain point, but I think that position needs to be upgraded. And I don’t mind T-Jack competing for the position, but I think you either have to get a free agent in there or you have to draft somebody.”
Also, Mayock was asked about what he thought about the second-tier quarterbacks after Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.
And although he’s raw, Mayock likes Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill as the third quarterback option in this year’s draft. Similar to Jake Locker and Christian Ponder in last year’s draft, Mayock believes Tannehill could rise up the draft board and be selected in the first round.
“Las year none of us thought that Locker was going to go that high or Ponder was going to go that high,” Mayock said. “So Tannehill is a guy they (the Seahawks) have to at least be looking at. And if they don’t take him, then you get into the second round and you have to start taking a look at a guy like Brandon Weeden. But I think somebody has to come in and compete with T-Jack, and I think that position has to be upgraded.”
Here’s what he had to say about Tannehill’s play: “He’s got everything you want. He’s got size. He’s got arm strength. He’s a really good athlete. All you have to do is look at his tape as a wide receiver two years ago. He’s a big, strong fast kick with a really good arm.
“Now, what I don’t like about him is that he waits for routes to develop before he throws the football – in other words he lacks anticipation. And because of that he throws late into coverage and makes mistakes. Now, that’s not atypical for a lot of young quarterbacks in football, especially ones that only have a year and a half of starting under their belts. He hasn’t started as many games as I’d like to see from a typical, first-round NFL quarterback. Typically you’d like to see at least 25 minimum starts in college. But I think he’s going to be a first round guy.”
Mayock said if the Seahawks can’t convince themselves that there is a quarterback worthy of a first-round pick that high then they have to look at wide receiver or defensive end.
Baylor’s Kendall Wright, Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd and LSU’s Rueben Randle are possibilities in the first round.
However, Mayock said he did not like the depth at defensive end this year, and is not a fan of North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples, who most mock draft have going in the top 10. So should Seattle be thinking best player available is someone like Alabama running back Trent Richardson slides down the draft board?
“I absolutely think when you’re drafting in that position that high you’ve got to get a great football player,” Mayock said. “And if you don’t like the defensive ends like I don’t – and by the way Pete (Carroll) might love Coples. And that’s fine. Pete would probably get Coples to play hard. And if he did, it would be a home run.
“But if you don’t like the defensive ends available at that point, then yeah you take the best player out there. And in that range there will be somebody available, maybe even a wide receiver.”
Mayock also talked about other quarterbacks like Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden, Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins and Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson.
Here’s what he had to say about Weeden: “When you look at Weeden I think there’s two negatives. One is his age. Everybody knows he’s 28 years old, and you’ve got to decide as a franchise how much of a negative that is. And then the other thing is I think he struggles when he has to reset in the pocket. He’s got to quicken up all of the processes in the pocket – feet, arm, decision-making – everything.
“So he’s 28 years old and you have to ask yourself at what point is he going to be our starting quarterback? If the answer is immediately, then somebody might take him late one. But I think he’s more like a second-round pick.”
On Kirk Cousins: “He’s got good feet and he’s a good athlete. He’s got a good, not great arm. I thought he had trouble moving and throwing to his left.
Mayock gave Cousins a fourth round grade:
“What I like about him is you can put the tape on and see the skills translate at the next level.”
On Wilson: “I look at Russell Wilson, and I saw him play as a freshman at N.C. State in person at North Carolina, and I saw him personally beat a pretty good football team without a whole lot of help. And I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this kid really gets it. He gets the game of football.’
“And no matter how small he was – he scrambled, but he wasn’t just a scrambler – his eyes stayed down the field, he drew people up and he threw over them. And he had a better arm than people think he has.
“So I’m intrigued by the kid. I’m anxious to watch the process develop as we get closer to April because he won a whole lot of games. … He’s the kind of guy I would love to have as a backup. Because I think he’s smart, he’s instinctive. I think if you’re starter got hurt he could lead you for four or five games. And he’s a kid I really like, and I want to continue to try and figure out.”
Mayock also addressed teams that could be considering securing Matt Flynn in free agency as a possible franchise quarterback instead of taking a guy at the top of the draft.
Here’s what he had to say about Flynn: “The Matt Flynn thing is interesting to me because when you look at the history of quarterbacks that have been kind of back-up guys that have played a few games and then have moved on and have been paid a lot of money – the latest of which is Kevin Kolb of course – there’s been some mixed results there.
“On one side there’s a Matt Hasselbeck, who went on to be a very good quarterback. You could probably even throw Brett Favre in there way back. But the bottom line to me is the league has minimal tape on Matt Flynn. And the league didn’t think that highly of him when he came out of college.
“So what is the answer? Is he the guy that we’ve seen those couple starts that he’s had where he’s lit it up and been phenomenal? Of is it the residue of wonderful wide receivers and a functioning offense where he’s just one or more component in there. And my question would be over a period of time – eight, 10, 12 14 games, where the league has a chance to get tape on Matt Flynn – at that point how effective is he?”