With the Combine kicking off later this week, Mike Mayock of NFL Network released his list of the top-five prospects at each position.
He also joined Rich Eisen for a podcast and revealed several draft nuggets that will be of interest to this audience.
“I think we’ve got more depth for the first three rounds than maybe any time you and I have done this draft,” Mayock said. “But I’m not seeing the difference-makers at the top end.
“I’m not seeing the explosive difference-makers at the top end of this draft. And I’m not sure that the fifth pick is that much better than the 20th pick or the 30th pick.”
On the surface, that sounds like bad news for the Eagles, who hold the fourth overall pick. Then again, if you want to take the glass-half-full approach, the Birds have three selections in the first 67, so they could potentially capitalize on that depth.
Mayock’s defensive end and outside linebacker rankings are of particular interest. He said he doesn’t believe LSU’s Barkevious Mingo (OLB) or Florida State’s Bjoern Werner (DE) are top-five picks. But Mayock’s top OLB prospect is Oregon’s Dion Jordan.
“I think he can grow into a monster at defensive end or outside linebacker,” Mayock said.
Chip Kelly and defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro know Jordan well, having coached him with the Ducks. We’ll be writing a lot more about Jordan, but with the Eagles likely looking for versatile edge rushers in the coming months, the 6-7, 241-pounder is definitely someone to keep an eye on.
Mayock also likes the upside of BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. Ansah had a great Senior Bowl in Mobile.
“This is a kid that people are comparing to Jason Pierre-Paul from a talent perspective,” Mayock said. “He’s much more raw than Pierre-Paul was when he came out.”
A lot of mocks have the Eagles going with Utah’s Star Lotulelei. But Mayock’s got Lotulelei as his No. 2 defensive tackle behind Florida’s Sharrif Floyd, a Philadelphia native. He said he’s got six or seven first-round grades on defensive tackles, one of the draft’s deepest positions.
Other projections have the Eagles going with Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner.
“I think the Combine is going to be critical for the corner class this year because all I hear from the NFL guys right now is ‘What’s the long speed of these guys?'” Mayock said. “So I really like the corner class. It’s two to three rounds deep this year, but I have some significant questions about what the speed is.”
Mayock said he believes Milliner is a top-10 pick.
And finally, the quarterback class.
“I don’t know who the best quarterback is yet, and I don’t know if there is a first-round quarterback,” Mayock said.
“This is going to be by far the most confusing quarterback draft we’ve had in years.”
Asked about the Chiefs potentially taking West Virginia’s Geno Smith first overall, he said, “I have a hard time buying into that. I couldn’t even pound the table today for a first-round quarterback, let alone a first-pick quarterback.
“I watched a bunch of Geno Smith. He can make every throw, he’s athletic, the ball jumps out of his hand. But there are a lot of things that make me nervous about him. He misses people by wide margins for no reason. I see a little bit of hesitancy with the blitz. When that first read is not there, it’s not as pretty on the second or third read. His eyes come down, he makes mistakes.”
Mayock’s not thrilled with what he’s seen out of USC’s Matt Barkley either.
“I watched a lot of his tape a year ago, and the two things I knew were he didn’t take sacks and he didn’t throw interceptions,” he said. “This year, the tape is different. He can make every throw. He’s got a good, but not a great arm. He’s smart, but he makes a bunch of bad decisions and bad throws, which is what I thought this kid wouldn’t do.”
The process continues on Thursday when the Combine kicks off in Indianapolis. Birds 24/7 will be on site and have it covered.