Mike Mayock weighs in on potential Patriots and whether Lane Johnson is the next Nate Solder
|02.24.13 at 9:44 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — One of the most beneficial parts of the NFL scouting combine is being able to bounce stuff off Mike Mayock‘s head on the final day of media availability. Mayock, who of the big-name draft analysts is far and away the most accurate, provides a trustworthy perspective after extensive scouting of players.
Mayock’s press conference is usually among the most crowded on the final day, so while it’s hard to get a ton of questions in, we were able to get his thoughts on a few guys who have been linked to the Patriots.
On West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin, who ran a 4.34 40-yard dash and could be a fit in the slot for the Pats:
“You’ve heard me say a thousand times probably: Fast guys run fast, and it’s not a story. So I expected him to run fast. But what it does for him is that worst-case to me, he’s a second-round pick. Worst case. If you buy into him as a route runner and toughness, and if you can get him enough touches every game for him, he might be a first-round pick.
“The NFL has evolved into more and more of a college look — spread the field, get the football in the playmakers’ hands, and that’s what he is. He’s a playmaker, he’s a mismatch. I can only imagine being a nickel [back] or a safety and having to line up across from him in a slot knowing he runs a 4.35, knowing how quick he is. He’s really a difficult matchup and that’s what this league is. So I think all that time does is just endorses exactly what we thought of him on tape.’
On fellow West Virginia receiver Stedman Bailey, who had 25 touchdowns last year but doesn’t measure off the charts at 5-foot-10 with a 4.50 40 time:
‘Stedman Bailey is really a good football player. There are questions about his size. How fast is he? He’s probably a 4.5 or whatever he is. What I see is an instinctive, smart receiver that catches [the ball]; he’s a natural hands-catcher, and because [Tavon] Austin and Geno Smith get all of the attention, he kind of fell into the background. But if you watch him in the red zone on tape and his understanding and knowledge of route running and defenses, he’s one of the more smarter and instinctive receivers in this draft. I’d be surprised if he gets out of the third round.’
On receiver Da’Rick Rogers, who transferred from Tennessee to Tennessee Tech after failing three drug tests in three years and also having coachability issues.
‘He’s a gifted guy. I don’t think he ran as fast as he had hoped to today. You put his tape on against Oregon at Tennessee Tech, and you go, ‘Wow.’ He caught four or five balls early against a team way better than them and they double-teamed him the rest of the way. He has some drops on tape, he’s a gifted kid. The more important thing is how do you figure the kid out? He’s had some significant off the field question marks and that’s going to hurt his value.’
On former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu:
‘I like him. He’s a better football player than he is an athlete. He’s short and he’s probably speed-deficient, which is not a good combination. But what I think he is is a hell of a football player. He’s a slot defender, a nickel-type guy with return skills. How he handles not the public meetings because I would expect him to say all of the right things, but how he handles things
privately with all of the teams and whether they buy into him or not are the most important issues.’
On BYU defensive end Ziggy Ansah, whose stock has risen over the last season despite him only playing less than three seasons in his life:
“This is an interesting defensive end/outside linebacker class because a lot of them you are betting on the upside, and Ansah is certainly one of them. Minimal amount of football, average practice week at the Senior Bowl which is important to me; he was only average and then he dominated the game. There are a lot of questions about the guy, but you can’t question his movement skills, his size and his motor. When people try to compare him to [Jason Pierre-Paul], I would take a step back. Even though he was raw, he was further along. Ziggy Ansah has that kind of ability but he’s even more raw than JPP.”
On Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson, whose size, athleticism and past as a tight end has drawn comparisons between him and Nate Solder:
‘I like him better than Solder [in the pre-draft process] at this point, and Solder was a heck of a prospect.’