NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock held a wrap-up press conference Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and emphasized a handful of offensive line targets that he feels can make an immediate impact in the NFL.
“[Mississippi tackle Laremy] Tunsil was as advertised,” Mayock said. “He was poetry in motion as far as a left tackle – great feet. I think his movement skills are even better than I thought they were, and I thought they were really exceptional.”
Mayock called Indiana tackle Jason Spriggs “outstanding” from both a measurables and field workouts standpoint. Mayock said Spriggs could play either right or left tackle and could possibly even swing inside to guard. Spriggs recorded the fastest 40-yard dash (4.94 seconds) and longest broad jump (9 feet, 7 inches) of all offensive lineman this week.
“He has some things he has to clean up from a technique perspective,” Mayock said. “But I could just hear – I could channel a bunch of offensive line coaches around the league going, ‘I want to work with that guy.’ ”
For predictions outside the first round, Mayock said Stanford guard Joshua Garnett and Arizona State guard Christian Westerman impressed him.
“If you get [Garnett] in the second or third round, I think you have a starting right guard or left guard immediately,” Mayock said. “Westerman is another guard I like in those mid-rounds; I think he’s going to be a starting guard quickly.”
Of all the offensive linemen that participated in the combine this week, Mayock was most surprised by Kansas State guard Cody Whitehair, who completed only 16 bench press reps.
“I think he’s a starting guard, and to come out here and have 16 reps – that one I struggle with,” Mayock said.
When addressing the 2016 wide receiver class, Mayock threw out a few names that he sees as quality options in the second or third rounds. He was particularly impressed with Notre Dame receiver Will Fuller.
“I think [Corey] Coleman and Fuller are two of the people we’re going to talk about at a certain point,” Mayock said. “Whether or not it’s in the first round, it’s hard to say. But a [4.31 that Fuller] ran, and he caught the ball better than I expected him to catch it. I still think he’s a [second rounder]. That’s where I have him. I think Coleman – some people have him late [first round]. I have trouble seeing more than one or two wideouts in the first round.”
Mayock also said that TCU’s Josh Doctson and Ohio State’s Michael Thompson will be good options for teams looking to snag a wide receiver in the second or third rounds.
While the receivers, tight ends and quarterbacks completed on-field drills, defensive backs made their media rounds Saturday. Here are a few statements from top-rated prospects:
Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
Pre-combine draft rankings: Mayock CB3, Brooks CB3
On how he compares to other CB prospects: “I’m a competitor, and they’re all competitors, but at the end of the day I’m going to say it – and a lot of you guys will say it – I’m the best corner in this draft class. You know what I mean? If you look at stats, my numbers, who I am as a person, who I’m competing against – I went against the best receivers in the country. I went against more of the top receivers than anybody in this draft class, and I’m going step for step. I’m not just moving outside, I’m going inside. I’m playing zone, I’m able to blitz, I’m able to show my versatility, everything.”
On how Clemson prepared him for the NFL: “It prepared me a lot, you know what I mean? I’m definitely going to have some things I don’t know in the league, but my D coordinator put a lot of emphasis in learning the game, knowing what to do, understanding football, understanding offenses, formations, personnel, the tendencies – stuff like that. Then I take it upon myself to learn more, because I’m super competitive and I want to be the best. Not just at the game day – every day at practice, no matter what I’m doing. It pushes me to be better. So I’m in after practices. Our staff has a staff meeting after practice every day. I’m in there with them, sitting down with them, taking notes. I [have] the game plan, and then I [have] the game plan within the game plan. In order to win, you’ve got to execute and take more time to do things. I thrive on competition. That’s what I like to do. I want to be the guy every day, every play.”
Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Pre-combine draft rankings: Mayock CB4, Brooks CB5
On the toughest receiver he’s faced: “Definitely (Ohio State's) Mike Thomas. He'll tell you that, too. We've have our battles, especially one-on-ones. We're always going against each other, sometimes getting into a little bit of fights afterwards. It was a great time. He helped me get better, I helped him get better.”
On two Ohio State safeties behind draft prospects: “Vonn Bell has probably the best range out of any safety in the draft. He's a sure tackler, he's a great open-field tackler. He's very smart, he can read offenses and see what they're going to do. Tyvis [Powell] is a taller, [longer] guy than Vonn. He's very physical when he's covering tight ends; he can tackle. Those guys can do it all. That's why they're highly touted prospects and they're doing well.
Darian Thompson, S, Boise State
Pre-combine draft rankings: Mayock S3, Brooks S4
On how playing centerfield in baseball helped him to play free safety: “I think it does [help to have played centerfield], definitely. Especially when you don’t know which way the baseball’s going to go off the bat in center field. Smaller ball, makes it a little harder to catch. I can definitely see the correlation there.”
On NFL safeties he models his game after: “Sean Taylor’s definitely a great. I really like Ed Reed. He’s the best safety of all time if you ask me. An all-around safety: good ball skills and extremely smart.”
Jeremy Cash, S, Duke
Pre-combine draft rankings: Mayock S5, Brooks S1
On watching NFL receivers: “Just look at the size of some of those guys, you really have to perfect your craft. It's a big transition in skill level coming from college to the NFL level. A lot of prep and technique you have to learn. The smaller mistakes you make in college you won't be able to get away with in the NFL.”
On improvements in his coverage: “A lot of teams have seen, ‘yes, he can move.’ The Senior Bowl really did shed some light on the fact that I'm not just an in-the-box player – I do have that range of motion. The biggest thing was, and still is, getting the reps under my belt. I have, what, four years down in the box. Throughout this whole process in preparation for the NFL draft, I've been working more in half-field and middle-field safety.”