“From my perspective, this is the deepest and best draft class I’ve seen in probably 10 years. That’s been reinforced by most of the general managers and scouts that I’ve talked to throughout the league. I had one GM tell me the other day that having a top 20 pick this year is very similar to having a top-10 pick last year,” he said. “I think there is more depth. I think there are certain positions that are stacked.” Read more »
NFL Network’s Mike Mayock recently released his list of the top-100 prospects in this year’s draft.
You can check out the whole thing for yourself, but here are a few things that stood out.
* Houston’s D.J. Hayden is Mayock’s top cornerback (No. 14 overall), ahead of Alabama’s Dee Milliner. Hayden has probably the most remarkable story of any prospect in the draft. During a practice last November, he collided with a teammate and nearly lost his life.
From NFL.com’s Andrea Kremer:
“The main blood vessel, the vena cava, bringing blood from the lower extremities back to the heart, was nearly completely torn off the back of the heart,” [Dr. Ron] Albarado said.
“It’s an unusual day at work to have a guy rushed to your surgical suite right off the football field with an injury we’re used to seeing coming from a major trauma setting,” said Dr. Walter Lowe, team doctor for the University of Houston and the Houston Texans. “There’s no precedent on the athletic field. There’s car wrecks and those kinds of things, but not in an athletic event — in explosions, war or other places.”
Per Mayock, as teams have done their homework on Hayden, they’ve reached the conclusion that his medical is not a concern.
“Most of the teams have come to the conclusion that it was a once-in-a-gazillion situation,” Mayock said. “That has no more chance of happening than it did in the first place.”
Greg Cosell of NFL Films also has Hayden ranked as his top corner, telling Yahoo Sports he’s “the most physically gifted cornerback in this class.”
If you think Alabama’s Milliner could be an option for the Eagles in the first round, you have to include Hayden in the mix too. I think it’s unlikely that the Birds go with either guy at No. 4, but if they trade down, corner is a possibility.
* Mayock has Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher as his top player. The guess here is that the Chiefs still go with Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel. Fisher is an option for the Eagles at No. 4, but a team might want to move up (either with the Eagles or the Raiders at No. 3) to take him.
* Star Lotulelei is down at No. 11. If the Eagles really like him, perhaps Lotulelei is a trade-down candidate.
* Geno Smith is down at 21, but he’ll likely still go in the top-10, and quite possibly, in the top-five. Mayock’s No. 2 quarterback is E.J. Manuel, who he ranks 41st overall. If NFL teams agree with him, chances are, Manuel won’t be around when the Eagles are on the clock with the 35th pick (second round).
* I fully expect the Eagles to add more pieces to their secondary in the first three rounds. Mayock has 14 cornerbacks and six safeties in his top-100.
Quarterback EJ Manuel will be doing a weekly diary here on Birds 24/7 as we count down to the draft. It should be a very cool feature and we’re excited to have him.
As it just so happens, his first entry comes on the heels of Mike Mayock declaring Manuel the second best quarterback in this draft class, moving him past Matt Barkley. That’s where we started the Q&A:
Mike Mayock just put you ahead of Matt Barkley on his board and now has you as the No. 2 QB in the draft. What is your response to that?
EM: The most important thing to me about pre-draft rankings are that they are opinionated. The low rankings only motivated me, so I won’t lose that edge. I liked the doubt, it’s that much sweeter when you prove people wrong. What matters most to me is that I continue to get better, day in and day out throughout this process.
Are there any steps you are taking this offseason to get ready to potentially run the read-option in the NFL?
EM: From the teams I met with, they all know I can orchestrate any type of offense. At Florida State, we ran multiple formations, schemes, pass concepts, run checks, kill checks, and declaration of the protections. The coaches were able to get a sense of my intellect and my football IQ in the meetings, while also seeing what kind of person I am.
How much did coaches and scouts ask you about the read option in Indy, and how did you find the experience at the Combine overall? What stood out?
EM: Not very much, many of the coaches asked me more about declaring mikes and setting protections. Get my offense into positive plays, how I read certain play concepts, and other questions about my background. The running ability is only an added weapon to what I can do and they embraced that.
The combine experience was very unique. Although I wasn’t able to get more than 15 hours of total sleep in 4 days, I enjoyed the moment. Meeting with team officials, getting to know other guys and forming relationships made it priceless. We’ll always look back at the combine as a grind and just another opportunity to show what we could do in front of the biggest audience on one of the biggest stages in this process. I love those moments when everyone is watching! I feel in my comfort zone. Just let it flyyyy!
Plenty more from Manuel moving forward. If you have a question for him let us know and maybe we can get it answered for you.
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Eagles will meet with Arizona QB Matt Scott Monday.
Greg Cosell talks about Chip Kelly and the impact of a mobile quarterback.
In the latest Twitter Mailbag, I try to answer questions on Jared Cook, Dee Milliner and more.
Sheil looks at some possible options at nose tackle for the Eagles.
Howie Roseman says the Eagles won’t necessarily hold age against a free agent if he can improve the team’s culture.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
ESPN Insider lists the five best fits for Wes Welker. The Eagles are one of them.
System coaches such as Chip Kelly often get typecast as being inflexible when it comes to adjusting their system to the talent on their roster, but Kelly’s history at Oregon indicates he is actually quite adept at altering his approach to the skill set available to him.
…If the Eagles were fortunate enough to sign Welker, Kelly would be able to alter his system to get the most out of Welker’s abilities.
Mayock talks about why he moved Manuel ahead of Barkley:
“The first three tapes I saw of Manuel prior to the Senior Bowl included the Florida game, and that’s probably the worst game he ever played … so I had a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth heading into the Senior Bowl,” Mayock told NFL Network’s “Path to the Draft” on Thursday. “I thought he had a solid Senior Bowl week, and coming out of the combine, I felt like there was a quiet buzz among some of the teams. Not just his workout. More importantly to me, they like the kid, they think he’s smart and in the meeting rooms at night, he passed that test.”
Peter King and some of the other writers over at SI.com did a free-agent fantasy draft. King took OLB Paul Kruger with his first pick.
Four days until free agency opens. We have lots to get to between now and then.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.
Mike Mayock called into 97.5 The Fanatic Thursday to give his take on Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly.
“He is highly charismatic. He is very much a CEO,” said Mayock. “He understands how to hire people, he understands how to delegate. But when it comes to his offense, he’s the guy. He’s a play-caller, and I’m not so sure I believe in that in the NFL at this point.”
The term “CEO” is interesting, because it was used by Howie Roseman this week when talking about what it takes to do this job.
“Being a head coach in the National Football League is a big job, and you’re a CEO, so you have to have a plan and know what you’re doing in every area,” he said. “You would be surprised at how detailed these people are, when it comes to strength and conditioning or training staff or equipment or video, they have the answers. It’s very interesting to hear.”
Jeffrey Lurie seems to like the idea of college coaches who are proving that they can handle everything that goes along with running a successful program. Lurie also wants someone who offers a modern and flexible approach to the game, which Mayock seems to think Kelly has.
“In his DNA, he wants to spread the field, he wants to throw the ball 40 or 50 times, he loves the mobile quarterback. He is perfect for where offenses are heading this day,” said Mayock. “However, the reason I like him is he knew the strength of his team this year was his defense. There are a lot of coaches who let ego get in the way of wins and losses, and I thought he managed that offense beautifully.
“I’m really a big believer of this guy. The only downside is he has no familiarity whatsoever with the league and would really have to be paired I believe with a highly-competent general manager who is ready to hit the ground running.”
The takeaway would be that Mayock is unsure if Roseman and Kelly would be a fit.
Asked who the ideal candidate is for the Eagles job, Mayock brought up a familiar name.
“I think you load up the truck, and you get in it with a bunch of money and you drive down and find Jon Gruden,” said Mayock. “There’s nobody more ready to jump in than him. He’s gonna cost you a lot of money, but if I’m the Eagles, I’m camped outside his office because I wanna have a conversation.”
The entire interview is worth a listen.