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NFL Network’s Mike Mayock: ‘Stephen Hill killed it’

02.27.12 at 8:35 pm ET
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Wide receiver Stephen Hill is having a very good combine. (AP)

Mike Mayock of the NFL Network is considered one of the preeminent draft analysts out there, so when he has something to say about a prospect — or a draft class in general — we’ll listen. Thanks to the PR folks from the NFL Network, here are a few of the highlights of his Q&A with the media on Sunday. Mayock talks about the quarterback class, the wide receivers, the tight ends and what he likes about this draft overall:

On the quarterback class: “If you look at last year’s draft and [Christian] Ponder goes at [No.] 12 and [Jake] Locker goes at No. 8, what I would tell you is that I would be stunned if [Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III] didn’t go one and two. Then [Ryan] Tannehill, even though he can’t workout, as long as he takes care through the process, shows people he can throw, what an athlete he is, Tannehill might go in the top 10. Everybody is thinking which team is going to get Griffin; in my head, I’m already slotting him 1-2 and wondering where Tannehill might end up because of how high Ponder and Locker went a year ago.”

On Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill: “Stephen Hill killed it. I had a bunch of scouts tell me before the combine this kid might blow the roof off of it and he did. The tough thing with Stephen Hill is coming out of that option offense, he’s hard to evaluate…From a football perspective, every team in the league has a lot of homework to do. He’s a hard guy to figure out, just like Demaryius Thomas was because you don’t see real routes; all you see are verticals, crosses and play-action and jump balls. You have to do your homework on this kid and he’s kind of pushed himself right up in the forefront of this wide receivers class.”

On Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd: “Floyd had as good a day as just about anybody out there…I don’t think he falls out of the top 21. His bigger challenge is just to make sure people take his red flags off the field and make sure he adjusts it accordingly. If teams take him off the board, that’s one thing. But if you’re just talking to me about a football player, he’s a top 21 talent.”

On Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright: “The guy I was most surprised with as far as his 40 on the downside was the Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright. On tape, I thought he was DeSean Jackson, just a notch below him from a speed perspective. So to see him run 4.61, I was stunned.”

On what separates Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck from Ryan Tannehill: “Tannehill has 19 starts and he’s a former wide receiver. I can see all of the attributes of a [Jake] Locker, for instance, in Tannehill. He’s a big, strong kid who can push the ball down the field, he’s athletic. I like everything about him except for the fact that on tape he stares his receivers down and waits for them to come open before he rips it. That’s typical of a young quarterback without a lot of starts. I look at him and say kind of like Jake Locker, he’s going to take a little bit of time – a year or so. Nineteen starts is not a lot of starts for a college quarterback…He’s a first-round quarterback. He’s as good or better than a [Christian] Ponder or a Locker a year ago.”

On what positions he likes in the draft: “I love defensive tackles, not a fan of the defensive ends. I’ve seen anywhere from 5-7 defensive tackles that have first-round grades, and the depth in it is really good too. You can go four, five rounds with the defensive tackles in any scheme – 4-3, 3-4, nose tackle, three technique. I love the defensive tackles.”

On the tight end class: “The tight end class is a bad class. That’s not good given [Rob] Gronkowski and [Aaron] Hernandez, and what we’ve seen in the NFL – everybody is looking for that next guy. I don’t have a first-round grade in the tight end class, I have three second-round grades and then I have kind of an abyss. The tight end class is a rough one.”

On the small school prospects: “This is the best group of small school kids that I’ve seen in awhile.”

On if Alabama running back Trent Richardson is a top five pick: “I read a list of every running drafted in the first round in the last five years, and basically what it tells you is that if you’re not Adrian Peterson you probably shouldn’t be a top five or a top ten running back…Either because of injuries or because of a lack of talent or whatever, if you go back every class to Adrian Peterson, you can’t make a case for a top ten running back.”

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