"He's so fascinating." -- Rich Eisen.
And he's a busy guy too, Rich. In the fall on Saturdays he's the color commentator for NBC's coverage of Notre Dame football. And on Thursday's he travels around the country with Brad Nessler for NFL Network's Thursday Night Football. It wasn't until mid-December that Mayock was able to sit down and settle into his film room to do his favorite work of the year: scouting the NFL Draft.
Now he's working the phones and grinding the tape. That's how he forms his opinions on players. It's 80 percent what he sees on tape, and the rest is based on workouts, conversations with people around the league and other factors.
"If I'm going to make a mistake, I would rather it be my own," Mayock says.
But Mayock found the time to discuss prospects and field questions in a nearly 3 hour marathon conference call with over 100 reporters Tuesday.
Mayock is impressed by the talent in this years draft class:
"From my perspective, this is the deepest and best draft class I’ve seen in probably ten years. That’s been reinforced by most of the general managers and scouts I’ve talked to throughout the league. I had one GM tell me the other day that having a Top -20 pick this year is very similar to having a Top -10 pick last year. So I think there's more depth. I think there are certain positions that are stacked this year and you can get a quality player through three or four rounds."
Here are some of the interesting thoughts he shared during the interview:
- Mayock notes that Notre Dame DT Louis Nix is the rare 320-pounder that moves well. Draft status will depend on his ability to push the pocket. Adds that Nix and his college teammate DL Stephon Tuitt have garnered a wide range of opinions from teams around the league. Mayock views Pitt DT Aaron Donald as a first-round talent despite being undersized for the position. Says he can overcome with his quickness, burst, and toughness
- Mayock said Minnesota defensive lineman Ra'shede Hageman looks like a first-round pick in some games, and in others "he disappears for three quarters" and looks like a fifth- or sixth-round pick. Mayock said a good evaluation of Hageman must properly balance both the best and worst of his body of work
- Mayock believes that Florida State DT Timmy Jernigan could step in and be "special early" as a three technique player. He notes that the Bears should "sprint to the podium" if he is available at 14.
- Mayock believes that South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney is a better player with more upside than Mario Williams had as a prospect. He does question his mental makeup, however, specifically questioning whether he will be happy simply being a millionaire.
- Calls Buffalo OLD/DE Khalil Mack the second-best defensive edge player in the draft after Clowney. Mack or an OT would likely interest Tampa Bay at pick 7
- Sees Buffalo OLB/DE Khalil Mack as a top-5 pick, noting that he runs like a safety. Rare talent.
- Mayock does not believe that Missouri DE Kony Ealy is as athletic as former Tiger Aldon Smith, but he does see Ealy as the more physical player. Mayock believes Ealy could go as high as pick 14, which is currently held by the Bears.
- Mayock believes that Florida DL Dominique Easley is now a third or fourth-round pick after his second ACL injury. Viewed him as a top-25 player prior.
- Mayock sees Missouri OLB/DE Michael Sam as a situational pass rusher and core special-teams player. He does not view Sam as an every-down player and projects Sam to go between the third and fifth-rounds.
- Mayock sees Louisville S Calvin Pryor as a bigger and stronger version of Bob Sanders. Sees both Pryor and Alabama S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix going in the 11-20 range, with Clinton-Dix being the more rangy player of the two.
- Mayock calls Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard his favorite CB in the draft. He views him as a top-15 pick.
- Of all the CB’s in the draft, Mayock sees TCU’s Jason Verrett as the best potential nickel back. He notes that size is the only thing potentially keeping Verrett from the 1st-round.
- Mayock believes Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller could be a 1st-round pick if he runs a sub-4.5 40.
- Mayock specifically mentions Utah CB Keith McGill as a player who could rise up boards because he fits the new tall corner mold exemplified by the Seahawks CB’s. Sees McGill as a second or third-rounder.
- Compares FSU fast-rising DB Lamarcus Joyner to current Arizona Cardinal Tyrann Mathieu, specifically noting his explosiveness.
- Mayock calls Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews the safest pick in the draft, but calls Auburn OT Greg Robinson the offensive lineman with the highest upside.
- Notes that meetings with teams at the combine will be important for Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandijo after an inconsistent season and a poor Sugar Bowl.
- Mayock believes Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde will likely go in the second-round because the RB position has been devalued, though he would not be surprised if he went in the first.
- Calls Oregon RB De’Anthony Thomas a "wild card". Predicts that he will go somewhere in the fourth-round. Mayock adds that Thomas’ former teammate Colt Lyerla is a first or second-round talent, but likely a day 3 selection based on off-field problems.
- Calls Clemson WR Sammy Watkins a "special player" who a team can be excited about drafting in the top-10.
- Mayock labels UNC TE Eric Ebron as a top-10 pick.
- Says that Notre Dame TE Troy Niklas could be the best blocking TE in the NFL in a few years. Sees Niklas as a second-round pick..
- Mayock would not be surprised to see the Jets take more than one WR this year.
- Despite his praise of Manziel, Mayock calls Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater the most NFL-ready QB in the draft.
- Regarding arguably the draft’s most discussed prospect, Johnny Manziel, Mayock compares him to a combination of Doug Flutie and Fran Tarkenton. Mayock discussed Manziel’s relative discomfort in the pocket, and his propensity for negative plays. Mayock does state however that he believes in Manziel.
- Mayock says that the more film he watches on the top 3 QB’s-Bridgewater, Manziel, and Bortles-the more questions he has. Says that if he were GM of the Texans, he would look to get comfortable with one of them
- Regarding Fresno State QB Derek Carr, Mayock sees him fitting in at the end of the first round. Mayock believes the top 3 QB’s in this draft are locked in: Bridgewater, Manziel & Blake Bortles.
- Mayock does not view LSU QB Zach Mettenberger as a first or second-rounder, even without his injury history. He does not see Mettenberger as a player who can start from day one.
- Views Fresno State QB Derek Carr as an eventual "competent starter", but not a Pro Bowler.
- Mayock notes that Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garappolo improved his stock at the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl. Went from a mid-to-late round pick to a second or third-rounder.