Mike Mayock had high praise for quarterback Carson Wentz out of North Dakota State University when speaking to the media Tuesday, saying Wentz's athleticism puts him on par with Andrew Luck.
Mayock recently released his pre-draft positional rankings, and many were surprised that he had Wentz ranked ahead of Cal's Jared Goff. Mayock clarified his position on Wentz and Goff, one of whom will likely end up being selected by the Cleveland Browns with the second overall pick.
He also talked at length about the lack of explosive talent in this year's wide receiver class, while the opposite is true for pass rusher. Mayock thinks the talent among interior defensive linemen this year is the best he's seen since he began covering the NFL Draft.
Carson Wentz has a higher ceiling, while Jared Goff is more NFL-ready now.
Many were surprised when Mayock's pre-draft positional rankings had Wentz ahead of Goff. Wentz is a quarterback out of a FCS program who became the starting quarterback as a junior in 2014 and started only six games in 2015 before a wrist injury ended his season. Mayock said that Goff is more polished, but he believes the size and athleticism of Wentz give him a higher ceiling. In fact, Mayock compared Wentz to Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
"Wentz is as athletic or more athletic than Andrew Luck," Mayock said. "I see a ceiling similar to Luck."
Mayock said that when he watched tape on Wentz he went into it knowing nothing about him as a prospect, and he was blown away by Wentz's size and athleticism. At 6'5 and 231 pounds, Wentz is drawing comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger, yet he's athletic enough that North Dakota State had some designed runs in their playbook for him. The level of competition Wentz faced in college will be a factor for teams to consider.
Although he called Goff the more NFL-ready quarterback, Mayock thinks he'll need to add some weight to his frame to withstand the hits he'll take at the next level. Mayock also likes Paxton Lynch out of Memphis, who he sees as a possibility for the San Francisco 49ers if both Wentz and Goff are off the board by the seventh pick. Connor Cook from Michigan State rounds out the list of quarterbacks Mayock believes have the physical talent to go in the first round.
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The wide receiver class lacks the explosive talent seen in recent years.
It's not that this year's wide receiver class is "awful," according to Mayock. This crop of wide receivers just lacks the explosive talent we've seen in the draft over the past couple of years.
Mayock name-dropped players like Odell Beckham Jr. and Amari Cooper when explaining his perspective that this year's wide receiver class isn't great. There just aren't players in this year's draft who compare, but there are definitely talented players available.
The Cleveland Browns may be looking for a receiver to pair with either Wentz or Goff, and Mayock thinks a wideout with a bigger body type is a better fit there. He recommended Ohio State's Michael Thomas or TCU's Josh Doctson as good options. The ideal slot receivers in this draft are Braxton Miller and Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard.
Miller, who converted to the receiver position at Ohio State last season, was described by Mayock as "polarizing." Many analysts have adjusted their projections and have Miller going in the first round after a strong Senior Bowl performance. Mayock says Miller is still a raw route runner and projects him as a second-rounder.
On Braxton Miller, Mayock does not think he's a first rounder. Loves his tape, loves Senior Bowl performance, thinks first round is a reach.— SB Nation NFL (@SBNationNFL) February 23, 2016
Mayock's top two receivers on his positional rankings, Laquon Treadwell out of Ole Miss and Baylor's Corey Coleman, would be good fits for the Detroit Lions in the middle of the first round as Detroit looks toward replacing Calvin Johnson.
If your favorite team needs a defensive tackle, it'll have lots of opportunities in this draft.
Mayock repeatedly mentioned the depth available in this draft for teams looking for interior defensive linemen. There are so many talented interior defensive linemen in this year's draft that teams could see players with first round-caliber talent falling into the third and fourth rounds this year, according to Mayock.
Robert Nkemdiche, who has had some off-field issues that may give teams pause, is a player Mayock described as having "top-five talent," but it's difficult to project where he'll be selected because of character concerns. Mayock said that without the off-field concerns and some inconsistent play, Nkemdiche would be in the conversation for the first-overall pick.
Jarran Reed and A'Shawn Robinson, both from Alabama, are two prospects Mayock likes because, "You know what you're getting with Bama kids," he said. Mayock also had a bold prediction for Oregon's DeForest Buckner, who is Mayock's top-ranked defensive tackle at present, saying he believes Buckner could end up being the best defensive player out of this draft class.
Here's the transcript of the call.