Mike Mayock of NFL Network answered a bunch of questions Sunday evening at the Combine.
And as you might have guessed, many of his answers involved prospects the Eagles could be interested in. Let’s go through a few of them, Q&A style, and I’ll add in my take afterwards.
What makes Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner a good player?
Mayock: “What I see on tape is a tough instinctive guy who tackles, which I love. I love a corner that will tackle. When you come out of Nick Saban’s Alabama program, especially when you’re a defensive back which Nick takes a big interest in as a former defensive back coach, you are well-coached. He understands zone concepts, he plays man-to-man, he presses, he tackles.”
My take: Mayock’s comments came before Milliner ran a blazing 4.37 40 on Tuesday morning. As I wrote earlier, Milliner could be in the mix with the No. 4 pick. Or a team could be looking to deal with the Birds to get ahead of the Lions, who might want to grab him at No. 5.
What did you like about Geno Smith’s performance at the Combine?
Mayock: “I saw everything that I saw on tape about Geno, and that is he flashed everything you want to see in a franchise quarterback on tape during the season. He has a big arm, good arm, he moves well, he can be accurate. Everything I saw on tape I saw here today. He’s a natural thrower; he doesn’t force the ball. What I go back to is I don’t care as much about this – I’m happy he did this because it just shows me he’s not afraid. Cam Newton did it and he didn’t throw the ball well and he still was the first pick in the draft. To me, it’s more important what you see on tape. I want to bang the table because I want to like Geno Smith. We interviewed him, I love what he had to say, but there are just too many inconsistencies on tape for me to say that Kansas City or anybody that high should take him. He’s more of a 20-32 [overall pick player]. I’ve said that based on watching six of his games. I’m going to watch the rest of them, but there are just so many inconsistencies with both Geno Smith and the entire quarterback class that I have trouble banging the table for any of them.”
My take: On the surface, that’s not a ringing endorsement, but the part I found significant was that Mayock said he sees flashes of everything you’d want out of a franchise quarterback in Smith. In other words, he doesn’t see a red flag like a weak arm, limited athleticism, etc. Mayock sees a high ceiling; he just doesn’t see consistency.
Teams grade quarterbacks differently, and it’s an imperfect science. Russell Wilson lasted to the third round; Colin Kaepernick went in the second; 23 teams passed on Aaron Rodgers. None were considered can’t-miss prospects coming out of college. Yet all are considered franchise guys now (although Wilson and Kaepernick obviously still have a lot to prove).
The bottom line is the Eagles have to evaluate Smith and decide if he’s a franchise quarterback. If they think he is, they have to give strong consideration to taking him at No. 4, assuming he’s still there. Quarterbacks tend to rise as we get closer to draft day. We’ll see if that happens with Smith.
Will upcoming surgeries affect Milliner and [Oregon DE/OLB] Dion Jordan’s draft stocks?
Mayock: “I don’t think so, as long as – and again, 32 teams view medical results in 32 different ways. Dion Jordan and Dee Milliner held off just so that they could compete at the Combine. They’re going to do everything but the bench [press] I think. I respect them for that and as long as it’s the minor surgery that apparently it is, I don’t think it’s going to affect them at all. Dion Jordan is a guy to me that’s had trouble in keeping weight on, and part of the problem has been that shoulder. So if you want to like Dion Jordan – and I do, Dion Jordan could be an Aldon Smith-type of defensive player, but he has to put on 20 pounds. To do that, he has to get the shoulder right.”
My take: Mayock’s point about Jordan is a fair one. The concern is not that either player is going to miss some or all of OTAs. The concern with Jordan would be about whether he can stay healthy and keep the weight on that’s necessary to compete in the NFL.