NFL Network Draft Analyst Mike Mayock
The 2016 NFL Draft kicks off later this week in Chicago, and there are storylines aplenty surrounding the three-day event which is one the NFL's biggest of the year.
NFL Network Draft Analyst Mike Mayock recently held a conference call with the national media, and during the hour-plus call, he touched on a variety of topics and players, including the recent work of Oakland Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie.
Here are the highlights of his call.
The ceiling is high for Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson.
"Shaq Lawson to me is an explosive kid, and that's what I like most about him. He's one of those tightly wound kids. You're talking about 6'2 1/2", about 270 pounds. He ran 4.7, but more importantly, he can stack. He's physical against the run, and he can get up field against the pass. He can handle long left tackles. And that's kind of the knock on him, is he long enough to be a high level pass rusher in the NFL. I think he's one of those guys kind of like a Brian Orakpo, for instance, potentially best case scenario, Tamba Hali. That kind of height, width, speed ratio. He's just got to get a little bit more sophisticated. He's got to learn his craft a little bit more, and if he's a true professional, I think he's got a chance to be a high-level pass-rusher in the NFL."
**The role of the inside linebacker in today's game is changing, but there are still some quality players at the position in this year's draft.
"The NFL has been evolving the last four or five years more closely paralleling the development of college football. There's been a blurring between, say, the safety position and the outside linebacker. They're almost becoming often the same kind of guy, fitting the same type of role. Then the inside linebacker, talk about an off the line, inside linebacker typically playing one or two downs. So the role has been diminished. Unless you've got a guy like Luke Kuechly. If you've got Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, now you've got a different conversation, but because of nickel and dime packages, the role of the inside linebacker has evolved. Scooby Wright to me, I love watching his tape. He flies around. They line him up all over. He lines up on the edge. He can sack the quarterbacks. Tackle to tackle, he's awesome. I think once you get beyond that range, teams are worried about his range and his ability to make plays. Because of that, I don't think he's going to go until the fifth or sixth round."
Mayock believes Reggie McKenzie is a general manager on the rise.
"I think Reggie's an interesting conversation, and I was looking at his draft the other day. His first two drafts I thought were somewhat suspect. If you go back to his 2012 draft, I'm not even sure there is a guy on the team left from 2012. 2013was the Latavius Murray draft, DJ Hayden hasn't played well.Menelik Watson's been hurt. So the first two drafts I thought were suspect. I thought the last two havebeen outstanding.The core of their team with 2014 with [Khalil] Mack, and [Derek] Carr, [Gabe] Jackson, [Justin] Ellis, they hit their first four. I mean, that was fantastic. I mean, you come into last year and they've got more play makers. [Amari] Cooper on the outside, Mario Edwards, [Clive Walford] think. He's a playmaker. So he also I thought missed a little bit in free agency early on. He tried to sign some older guys who were no longer with the roster. Now he signs a 26, almost 27-year-old Kelechi Osemele, Bruce Irvin, young, edge rusher, 29-year-old Sean Smith. So I look at Reggie McKenzie and say I see a guy growing into a really high-level general manager, and you can see it in his drafts and you can see it in free agency."
Mayock has also been impressed with Michigan State tackle Jack Conklin.**
"Jack Conklin is one of my favorite guys in the draft.He was a walk-on at Michigan State, as you know.Got a little edge to his game.I'll tell you who he reminds me of from a body type and demeanor, he reminds me of Kyle Long, and that's a compliment. Now I don't think he's got Kyle's feet, but very few people do. So I think Conklin is a guy that's gotten bigger and stronger and he's got a work ethic. He's a blue-collar guy that I think fits in on the right side day one as a starter. He's a good run game guy that can develop into a good pass protection. I think down the road I think he could be a starting left tackle."
The University of Alabama has two running backs that will be selected in the Draft, but they're very different players.
"Completely different philosophy on those two kids. Obviously, Derrick Henry I think will go somewhere in the second round, worst case, early third. At 247 pounds, he's a downhill guy. He needs a little bit of room to make his cuts, and you have to commit philosophically. If you're going to draft him in the second round,you've got to kind of commit that you're going to be a run team and get him 20 touches a game coming downhill, wear teams out, and win in the fourth quarter. I mean, that's who this kid is. They'll get better as the game goes on. If you're going to give them 10 touches, it doesn't make any sense. Now the other kid I think is intriguing. You look at him, and he's got value as a third-down, change of pace back. He's got value in the kick return game. Even has value in the coverage game as a gunner. So if I'm a GM, which I'm obviously not, and I'm not qualified, but I'm more intrigued with [Kenyan] Drake than I am with Henry, because he can do more jobs."