NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock answered draft-related questions during a conference call for about an hour this morning.
I asked him about the Seattle Seaaws draft needs at No. 25 heading into April’s draft, and Mayock said the Seahawks have to figure out what they plan to do at quarterback.
Mayock said he’s still is a believer in Washington quarterback Jake Locker, even though he had issues with accuracy. And he believes Seattle should do its homework on the Washington product as a possibility at No. 25, depending on whether or not they bring back Matt Hasselbeck in free agency, and believe in Charlie Whitehurst as a future franchise quarterback for the team.
“From a quarterback perspective they’ve got to make some decisions obviously right now,” he said. “Matt Hasselbeck is not getting any younger, and Whitehurst had an interesting season. He had some highlights, especially at the end of the season there. But I don’t think he answered all the questions. So the first thing that Pete Carroll and those guys have to decide is, are they looking at a quarterback there.
“And there’s a guy right down the street who’s got first-round ability, but hasn’t always shown that. So it’d be interesting to see what their evaluation of Jake Locker is, because that’s a really talented kid who has first-round potential, but who’s struggled in the pocket. And a lot of people are writing him off, and I’m not. I think you’ve got to do a bunch of homework on him.”
So should the Seahawks take a quarterback at No. 25?
“They’ve got to evaluate their two guys first, and if they’re not sure and there’s one there, they’ve got to take him,” said Mayock about the Seahawks, if the team believes a franchise quarterback is available when they select in the first round.
Right now, Mayock has Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert as his top-rated quarterback, followed Locker, Auburn’s Cam Newton, Ryan Mallet of Arkansas and Andy Dalton of TCU.
“I’ve probably seen at least seven of his games, and purely on tape he reminds of the guys who have done well in this league,” Mayock said about Gabbert. “He reminds me of (Sam) Bradford. He reminds me of Matt Ryan. And if you look at the last, three years, NFL teams have done a really good job with their first-round quarterbacks. There’s been like six hits in a row with no busts.”
Mayock said Gabbert, Locker, Newton and Mallet all have first-round talent, but he does not necessarily give them all first-round grades, saying Gabbert is the only top 10 pick out of the four.
And Mayock is not sold on Mallet as a first-round selection.
“The problem with this kid is every time I get excited, he does something from a decision-making or an accuracy perspective that bothers me,” Mayock said. “And I think the common denominator is when he goes bad, it’s because of pressure in the pocket – when he can’t step up, when he can’t see and doesn’t have clear vision, then I believe his production goes way down.
“So, having said all of those things, I would be very concerned about taking him in the first round.”
In his second-tier of quarterbacks, Mayock has Dalton, Florida’s Christian Ponder, Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi and Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick.
Mayock does not believe Florida interior offensive lineman Mike Pouncey will be available when Seattle selects at No. 25, but he mentioned Baylor’s Danny Watkins as fringe first-round guy who could satisfy the Seahawks’ needs for an interior lineman.
He liked Georgia’s Clint Boling as probably more of a second-round guy. And he said John Moffitt of Wisconsin and Rodney Hudson of Florida State as second-to-third-round guys.
Mayock also mentioned Marcus Cannon of TCU and William Rackley of Lehigh as potential mid-round guys who likely will be interior linemen at the next level.
In terms of offensive tackles, Mayock has five guys as potential first-round picks – Anthony Castonzo of Boston College, Colorado’s Nate Solder, Tyron Smith of USC, Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi and Derek Sherrod of Mississippi State.
Mayock said this year’s draft is deeper in terms of talent in the first round than he’s seen in the past several years because of talent at defensive line. Right now, he has eight or nine guys at defensive line with first round grades, and noted that usually four defensive ends go in the first round in a typical year.
So what does that mean for Seattle? They could get a pretty good defensive linemen or offensive tackle in the first round because of the depth at those two positions.
“If you’re looking for a corner at the end of the first round, you might have a problem,” Mayock said. “If you’re looking for a defensive end, a defensive tackle or maybe an offensive tackle, you’re in luck. So it’s about whether your needs meet up with the strength of this year’s draft.”
* Mayock considers Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara the top two corners in the draft, but believes there is a significant drop off after that.
“I’m not sure of the kid from Texas, Aaron Williams. And I don’t like the Miami kid up there, Brandon Harris,” Mayock said.
* Mayock mentioned Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith, Temple defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson and possibly California defensive end Cameron Jordan as defensive line types who could still be around when Seattle drafts at No. 25.
* With the uncertainty of when free agency will take place, Mayock said teams still will treat the draft the same way, looking at it with a long-range vision instead of a way to fill short-term needs.
“I think you can get in trouble if you start putting the cart before the horse,” Mayock said. “You don’t even know what free agency is going to look like this year – four years, six years, what’s it going to be and who’s going to be available?
“So I think what you have to do is go back to the basics. … which is who fits are scheme and we’re going to go get them. I think if you start looking for Band-aids because the CBA is so uncertain this year, I think long term is going to hurt you.”