Mayock publishes pre-combine rankings
Mike Mayock is kind of the thinking man’s Mel Kiper. They both have great presence on the TV, make for terrific entertainment at this time of year and they also seem to do a lot of conference calls. While Kiper relies on sheer enthusiasm, Mayock gets into detail and reels off a series of catchphrases (sneaky athletic, quicker than fast, dancing bear etc). Personally, I think both do a great job. The draft is taken far too seriously these days and people like Kiper get chastised for basically doing what he’s always done — put a face to the coverage. Good for him.
Twitter, blogs (like this one) and websites like B*****r R****t are giving more and more people a voice, and everyone thinks they’re more qualified to talk about the draft than the next person. We/they aren’t. Call yourself ‘Senior analyst’ of a self-made draft website if you want. We’re all a bunch of fans and some of us are sad enough to spend our free time watching lots of college football. That doesn’t qualify us to work in an NFL front office. It perhaps gives us more motivation to put down a few words on a blog. But that’s about it. Most people don’t even write any more, they take the 140 characters on offer on Twitter and settle.
I was a little surprised to see some of the (mostly quarterback related) angst directed at Mayock’s pre-combine rankings yesterday. I expect Kiper to get abuse these days, even though most of it is unjustified. But hey, that’s the way the world is going right now. Some guy might think Matt Barkley is a bum who deserves a fourth round grade (he doesn’t). Others think Tyler Wilson is the greatest thing since sliced bread and are more than happy to ram that opinion down your throat. Everyone has a right to an opinion and a right to disagree. I thought Von Miller was overrated. I’m comfortable admitting that was an epic misjudgement. I just wish people wouldn’t take their own views so seriously sometimes.
Sure it was outrageous that Kiper had Colt McCoy in his top-25 throughout the 2010 build-up. But he’s always going to have views like that and hey — it gives people something to talk about. He’s a haircut that talks about the draft. And the whole event wouldn’t be the same without him.
Personally, I found Mayock’s rankings refreshing. It was great to see Khaseem Greene rated highly (#3 outside linebacker, ahead of Barkevious Mingo). Cordarrelle Patterson was ranked as the #1 receiver with Tyler Eifert edging Zach Ertz among tight ends. Geno Smith and Matt Barkley were the top two quarterbacks. Sharrif Floyd was the #1 defensive tackle — a trend we’re seeing more and more.
I would’ve had DeAndre Hopkins in the top five receivers (the biggest shock for me) but perhaps Mayock just hasn’t got round to the Clemson tape yet? I also would’ve liked to see him separate the rush linebackers (Mingo, Jarvis Jones, Dion Jordan) from the orthodox 4-3 guys (Greene, Arthur Brown). Yet overall Mayock provides a solid list. And without doubt when the combine roles around this week, he’ll be compulsive listening on the NFL Network. Just like Kiper and Todd McShay will be with their ‘First Draft’ podcasts. They are ‘draft entertainment’. Let’s appreciate them for what they are.
Vance McDonald tape
One of the players generating some hype pre-combine is Rice receiver/tight end Vance McDonald. He’s 6-5, 260lbs and had a solid week at the Senior Bowl according to reports. The suggestion is he’ll shine in Indianapolis this week despite his size and possibly push his stock into the second round.
Personally, I can’t tell how good or bad he is on tape.
The Rice offense is such that he isn’t running many conventional routes. In the tape below he basically lined up in the slot and took screen passes from the quarterback. I guess it’s indicative of his athletic potential if they’re trying to put the ball in his hands in space — that’s pretty unique at 260lbs. Yet one of the things I like so much about Zach Ertz is you can see him run pretty much a full route tree in college. He gets downfield, he works over the middle, he runs the post and the slant. You know what you’re getting.
With a guy like McDonald, there’s much more of an unknown. He needs to impress at the combine to prove he’s worthy of the investment, so you can get him into your roster and work him into a joker tight end. If he doesn’t flash the kind of athleticism people are talking about, I’m not sure the hype will be justified. I’ve seen Jordan Reed find an inch of space, explode and run from third to fifth gear quickly. It gets you excited, you start to wonder how good he could be. McDonald needs to prove he also has that ‘wow’ factor.
One thing that does bother me are his hands. He seems to bobble a lot of passes, or at least paw at them. He was responsible for a bad pick-six in against Baylor because he just bats the ball straight to a defensive back. The pass wasn’t great and thrown slightly behind, but I didn’t think much to the catching effort. He had a couple of bad drops in the tape too. On the plus side, he managed to get pretty open on the second touchdown in the same game and he showed sure hands on that occasion. I also liked a difficult catch McDonald made over the middle against Houston for a decent gain.
At the moment there are four tight ends I’d be willing to draft in the first two rounds — Ertz, Escobar Reed and Eifert. In that order. I wasn’t thrilled with Travis Kelce’s tape — he rounded off a ton of routes, looks better as a blocker than a receiver and maybe the long, dramatic touchdown in his final play as a college player has boosted his stock a little too much. He’s a mid-round pick for me and more of an orthodox tight end compared to the likes of Ertz or Reed.