ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay held a 30-minute conference call on Tuesday answering draft and college football questions. McShay talked about a few notable things.
The headline grabber was in reference to Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas. Two NFL scouts told McShay that Thomas belongs in the first two rounds of the draft. Don't mistake that for McShay thinking Thomas belongs in the top 64, it's just the opinion of scouts. Others told McShay that Thomas belonged somewhere later in the draft.
But how do they grade out? McShay currently has Mariota rated higher than Bridgewater and believes the Oregon redshirt sophomore can ultimately grade out higher. Neither will rate as high as Andrew Luck did in 2012. McShay believes Mariota's grade ceiling is Robert Griffin III while Bridgewater's is Ryan Tannehill. And what of the depth at the position?
I wouldn't confuse depth with quality. That's where teams looking for backups and guys to develop, it's intriguing when you get in the 2nd and 3rd round range. The depth may be better (than 2012), but when looking back, we don't look all the really good backups. We look at the stars. You talk about Luck and RG3. You don't talk about the Kirk Cousins of the group. Some people are getting carried away with how good this QB class can be.
On LSU's Zach Mettenberger:
His last couple of games haven't been his best, but he's made such an improvement from a year ago. I just didn't know that he'd ever turn the corner. Cam Cameron has come in and they've obviously clicked. Whether Cameron simplified things, I see a QB now dropping back, knows where his eyes should go and is a lot more decisive. When he gets to the top of his drops, he knows where he's going with the ball. Then the arm talent comes in.
On Virginia Tech cornerback Antone Exum as he returns from injury:
For now, it's just seeing what he can do on the field from this point on and if he regains confidence and plays on that same level. The thing you're looking for is progression from when he returned form the injury to the end of the season. He's always been good in run support and plays with an edge. He's violent and gets off blocks. His instincts and recognition has been good. His cover skills ... he's solid. I'd give him an average grade in that range. If he loses any speed and quickness because of the injury, that's where you'll find the concern. 3rd or 4th round range.
Where does LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. fit in the NFL?
He doesn't have elite top-end speed in the 4.5 range. He reaches top speed quickly. He'll have to do a better job getting off the line of scrimmage. He's dangerous after the catch. He does a nice job of separating. He can become a little more consistent with his ball skills, his focus. He's been productive. He projects as a No. 3 slot receiver.
Has the added weight been an issue for Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton?
Not everyone can put on the weight he did and maintain the burst and explosiveness he had, which is his greatest strength. He's always been an intense competitor. You can see him play with an edge. His hustle and pursuit
I think the extra weight is slowing him down. I don't think it's been good for him. It's an easy fix, but not an easy fix in season. Kind of nitpicking a little bit. The team that drafts him will want him at 290 and not 310.
Thoughts on Minnesota defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman:
He's been a beast. He's not getting home all the time, but he's been highly disruptive. He's gotten in that he gets his eyes on the quarterback, gets ready and gets those big paws up to bat balls down or at the least disrupt the passing window and getting in the quarterback's line of sight. Overall, he's a player that continues to improve and had the excellent combination of height/weight/speed/athleticism. Can play with better leverage and get off blocks more consistently. The biggest thing is probably going to be, he had the off the field incident,
If (character) checks out, at that position, it wouldn't shock me at all if he went in the top 50 picks overall.
How good is Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan?
With Lewan, I have him as the ninth overall player with a middle first round grade. There's been a little inconsistency, but I still think he's one of the premier players in this class. I like him. I know he's not the most athletic, but there's some guy who just know the angles and have the effort and toughness. Cyrus is a lot more physically gifted, but Lewan's tape is better this year. He did a really good job against Clowney. I think he's still right in the mix to be in the top 20 picks.
McShay believes Notre Dame defensive linemen Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt are both first-round picks.
Tuitt: He can do so many things and has so much ability, you can't coach what he has. Maybe in the second half of the first round, but maybe not even. If he comes back, he could be a top five pick.
Nix: He offers a lot more than taking on blocks. he's never going to be a great pass rusher, but he's disruptive and uses power and ability to collapse the pocket.