INDIANAPOLIS – NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock capped off media news conferences at the combine on Sunday afternoon, sharing some of his thoughts on the first two days of on-field workouts.
Some of the highlights, with a Patriots type of twist:
1. Austin’s fast 40 solidifies at least a second-round pick. Asked about West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin’s 4.34 official time in the 40-yard dash, Mayock said he wasn’t surprised. He expected it. As for what it means, Mayock opined, “worst-case to me, he’s a second-round pick. If you buy into him as a route runner and toughness, and if you can get him enough touches every game for him, he might be a first-round pick.” The Patriots’ top two picks are No. 29 and No. 59 (the second round pick bumps up two spots in the round because the Browns exercised their second-rounder in the supplemental draft and the Saints forfeited theirs). Hard to believe Austin would be there at 59.
2. Rhodes as a potential Patriot? Mayock was asked how he might envision Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes as a Patriot, and he put him in the “tweener” category. “He’s a big corner that might be a safety [and] Bill Belichick values versatility,” Mayock said. “He’s a big, strong, tough kid. Like most of the corners in this year’s class, I don’t know if he’s going to run well or not. So Tuesday afternoon is a big deal [for him].”
3. Playoff teams find themselves in a good spot. Nothing over the last few days has changed Mayock’s opinion about the makeup of this draft. That’s not good news for teams in the top 10. “I’ve said several times if you’re a playoff team this year, you’re laughing because there is so much depth to this [draft] that if you’re drafting 20-30, it’s not a whole lot different than the fifth or sixth pick. So for me, if you’re a playoff team, you're sitting back and going, ‘This is pretty good.’”
4. Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson on the rise; further along than Solder. Mayock pointed to Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson as a prospect on the rise, noting that he ran faster than receiver Anquan Boldin, had the same vertical as receiver A.J. Green (34 inches), and the same broad jump as Patriots running back Stevan Ridley (9 feet, 10 inches). That’s impressive considering he’s a 300-pound tackle, and Mayock added, “We’re talking offensive tackles and depth, and to me that’s where this class is – offensive and defensive line.” Mayock later added that Johnson is a little further ahead as a prospect than Patriots 2011 first-round pick Nate Solder was at this point of the process.
5. Makeup of QB class could lead to trade action late in the first. With a tough-to-figure-out quarterback class, Mayock envisions a scenario where the top two signal-callers might not be off the board until late in the first round. That opens up trade possibilities for a team like the Patriots, which picks at 29. “There are at least three teams in the top 10 that we all know about that need a quarterback desperately with Kansas City, Arizona and Buffalo,” Mayock said. “So yes, there will be some activity between 20 and 32, and some of those teams trying to get back up into the first round.”