(Sports Network) - Hordes of NFL personnel people have invaded Indianapolis this week as the league's next generation of talent interviews and works out for their potential employers at the scouting combine.
More than 330 potential prospects have been invited to Indy and perhaps no one is more well-versed on them than Mike Mayock, the former Boston College safety who was once a 10th-round selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers back in 1981.
These days, the Philadelphia-area native is the NFL Network's lead draft analyst and we, along with other media members from around the country, picked his brain earlier this week.
Here are the results as The Sports Network rolls out its latest mock draft, the pre-combine edition:
1. Kansas City Chiefs - Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M - A lot of Andy Reid's success in Philadelphia was tied to quarterback Donovan McNabb, but Mayock doesn't think there is a signal-caller worthy of being the No. 1 overall pick in this cycle.
"I'm a big believer in value," Mayock said earlier this week. "If you have a top 10 pick, you want an All-Pro at some point. If you look at (West Virginia quarterback) Geno Smith, he could be a top 10 pick in some people's eyes. Now for me, he and (Southern California signal-caller) Matt Barkley to me are more like 20 to 32. That's where I feel more comfortable."
So who's worthy of being a No. 1?
According to Mayock, look toward the offensive line: "Four guys (should be in the discussion): (Alabama guard Chance) Warmack, (North Carolina guard Jonathan) Cooper, (Texas A&M tackle Luke) Joeckel and (Eastern Michigan tackle Eric) Fisher."
Since tackles are valued far more than guards in today's NFL, and Reid had Pro Bowl-caliber bookends for years in the City of Brotherly Love (Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan), the guess here is Big Red either trades down or takes the safest pick -- Joeckel -- the Aggies' left tackle who should step in and play at a high level for the next decade.
"Part of it depends on what they're going to do with free agency and Branden Albert," Mayock said of the Chiefs. "I don't care whether it's Warmack or Joeckel. People will tell me I'm crazy that a guard can't go No. 1. I think (Warmack's) the best player in the draft, so I would argue that. But either way, I think they've got to get an offensive lineman."
Previous Pick: Joeckel
2. Jacksonville Jaguars - Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State - The Jags are concerned with their pass rush, specifically their lack of a consistent one and Werner remains the likeliest pick, edging out fellow pass rushers like Jarvis Jones of Georgia and Damontre Moore of Texas A&M.
Mayock disagrees, however, and thinks the lowly Jags should be choosing talent over need, specifically Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd.
"From a need perspective, I think they could use a pass rushing defensive end more than a defensive tackle." Mayock said. "But what I saw on tape from Sharrif Floyd, I thought he dominated."
Won't matter -- the Jags are sold on Werner.
Previous Pick: Werner
3. Oakland Raiders - Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida - The Raiders were awful against the run in 2012 and Floyd has usurped Utah's Star Lotulelei as the draft's best interior lineman.
"He can get an edge as a pass-rusher. He's strong enough to push the pocket. He's stout against the run, and he can run sideline to sideline," Mayock said of Floyd. "When he is fresh and can run, it's really special. I think he's a top-five talent in this draft."
Previous Pick: Lotulelei
4. Philadelphia Eagles - Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan - Restructuring Mike Vick means the Eagles aren't all that high on any of the quarterbacks in this draft. Chip Kelly could use help in a lot of places and Lotulelei would be a nice fit, but the 6-foot-7 Fisher stands out here. Fisher is clearly the second-best left tackle on the board with the wingspan and athleticism to excel. He just needs to add strength in order to deal with the bull rush.
"From my perspective, when I put his first tape on and was able to see him all week at the Senior Bowl, the first thing I thought of was (San Francisco 49ers tackle and former CMU star) Joe Staley," Mayock said when gushing about Fisher, "and I thought he's better than Joe Staley, which says a lot."
Previous Pick: Smith
5. Detroit Lions - Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M - The Lions could be in the market for Cliff Avril's replacement and Moore seems like the best fit for Detroit's wide-9 scheme.
"There are going to be a lot of people that think Damontre Moore is that guy (for Cleveland), and Damontre Moore has a lot of talent and might be one of those guys," Mayock said.
Previous Pick: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
6. Cleveland Browns - Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU - New Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton ran the 3-4 in Arizona, but Cleveland has been running the 4-3 and has some pieces it doesn't want to scrap. That might make Mingo, a versatile player who can fit either scheme as an edge player, an attractive option.
"I have him at the end of the first round," Mayock said when talking about Mingo. "Lot of people have him in the top 10; I have him at the end of the first round. He's got a little stiffness to him. He obviously runs very fast. When the ball goes away from him, he's fantastic. He's a run and chase linebacker. He's got upside as a pass-rusher."
Previous Pick: Moore
7. Arizona Cardinals - Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia - New coach Bruce Arians did wonders with a rookie quarterback in Indianapolis last season and while Smith is no Andrew Luck, he is a big upgrade over Kevin Kolb and John Skelton.
"With Geno Smith, I see flashes of everything you want in a top-10 quarterback," Mayock said. "I see a lot more inconsistency, though, than I see those flashes. So he, to me, there is a real risk-reward scenario there."
Previous Pick: Barkley
8. Buffalo Bills - Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee - The re-signing of Tarvaris Jackson likely means new coach Doug Marrone is content to wait for his old college quarterback, Ryan Nassib, in the second round. Patterson has the highest ceiling among this year's group of receivers, a raw, rangy big-play threat who could complement Stevie Johnson if he can focus more and stop rounding off his routes.
"From a height, width, speed, talent perspective, (Patterson) might be one of the most talented physical specimens in this class," Mayock said. "I think he's taking your breath away from the ability to make plays especially after he gets the ball in his hands. He's a special talent."
Previous Pick: Mike Glennon, QB, North Carolina State
9. New York Jets - Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia - Jones played in a 4-3 at Georgia, but 3-4 teams like him also. With Calvin Pace and Bart Scott jettisoned, the Jets get lucky here when Jones drops into their laps, giving Rex Ryan the elite pass rusher he has lacked in North Jersey.
"He is an impact, explosive football player, and he's ready to play now," Mayock said when talking about Jones. "Now he had some medical issues, potential stenosis in his back. If he checks out medically, he's a top-10 player, and hopefully an impact player."
Previous Pick: Jones
10. Tennessee Titans - Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama - Perhaps the best football player in this year's draft, Warmack is a perfect choice for the Titans, who need an upgrade on the interior of the offensive line. Warmack is far quicker than his body indicates and excels at getting to the second level and walling off linebackers.
"Chance Warmack is the best football player I saw on tape this year," Mayock said. "He just needs to keep dotting the I and crossing the T's and run fast, work hard, be good in the interview room. He's a top-10 pick for me."
Previous Pick: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
11. San Diego Chargers - Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina - The main reason Philip Rivers took a huge step back last season was the ineffectiveness of his offensive line, and Cooper is the best O-lineman left on the board, a Randall McDaniel-type athlete.
"If there is anything he is, he's one of the most athletic guards I've ever seen," Mayock said. "He's explosive. He just needs to get into the meeting rooms at night, be comfortable, answer questions, and he'll be fine. I think (the combine) is a showcase for Jonathan Cooper."
Previous Pick: Fisher
12. Miami Dolphins - Keenan Allen, WR, California - The Dolphins want playmakers for Ryan Tannehill, and Patterson has the higher ceiling and is the better fit. That said, Allen will be the one left on the board, and although he's not as explosive, the Cal product is far closer to being NFL ready. Allen is more quick that fast and projects as an elite route runner in time.
"The Dolphins need a wide receiver, but they also need a vertical threat, and I don't think he's a 4.4 (40-yard dash) guy," Mayock said of Allen. "We'll find out this weekend. Here's the deal with Keenan Allen: If you like him on tape, he's Anquan Boldin. If you don't like him, he's speed deficient."
Previous Pick: Allen
13. Tampa Bay Bucs - Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama - The Bucs and need a corner and Milliner is far and away the best in this year's class. He doesn't have elite speed but has smooth hips, gets his head around quickly and has great ball-tracking ability.
"I think he's a heck of a football player and I think he'd be safe," Mayock said when queried on Milliner. "But I don't think he's that explosive 4.35(- second) kind of 40 guy."
Previous Pick: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
14. Carolina Panthers - Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah - The Panthers need to sure up their run defense and Lotulelei could fall with Floyd rising. Star is a strong, physical player who fits in playing multiple techniques and should develop into a solid player early in his career.
Previous Pick: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
15. New Orleans Saints - Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU - The Saints are switching to a 3-4 and need a lot of help on the defensive side of the ball, so why not roll the dice with Ansah, who has one of the highest ceilings in the draft. He's an athletic, explosive talent who some have compared favorably to Jason Pierre- Paul.
"He's got as much upside as anybody in this draft," Mayock said when asked about Ansah. "He was a guy that was so long, so athletic, so gifted. I just think he's so raw, (sometimes) it's can't come out. I don't think there is anybody on the in the NFL that doesn't think he's going to be a good player."
Previous Pick: Ansah
16. St. Louis Rams - Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma - The Rams need more playmakers for Sam Bradford, but they also need to sure up the offensive line in front of him. Johnson was once a high school quarterback, so he understands the passing game and mirrors well. He will need to continue to add strength, however.
"At 16, if (the Rams) want an offensive tackle or offensive lineman, they'll get a heck of a player," Mayock said. "And I think Fisher and Joeckel will be gone. So the question, is Lane Johnson from Oklahoma there? If he's there, I think he makes a ton of sense."
Previous Pick: Warmack
17. Pittsburgh Steelers - Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State - Casey Hampton now has 12 NFL seasons under his imposing belt and according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he is not expected to be re-signed by the Steelers. A piecemeal combination of Steve McLendon, Ziggy Hood and Alameda Ta'amu isn't good enough, so getting the heir apparent to Hampton is imperative. Hankins has excellent feet and the natural size to carry more weight, two keys when projecting nose tackles.
Previous Pick: Hankins
18. Dallas Cowboys - Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri - Whether Jay Ratliff is back or not, the Cowboys need help on the interior of the defensive line since they will be moving to a 4-3 under Monte Kiffin. Richardson is a big body with a knack for penetration while playing the 3-technique. That ability to slice into the backfield could keep opposing offensive linemen off Sean Lee and Bruce Carter.
"The Richardson kid is exciting," Mayock said. "At 300 pounds, to me, he had movement skills of a 250-pound linebacker. Missouri actually stood him up. How often do you see a defensive tackle standing up and playing a linebacker position at 300 pounds? So, obviously, Missouri was highly impressed with this kid's athletic ability. He's really gifted. I mean, he's probably more gifted than the Utah kid (Lotulelei) also."
Previous Pick: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
19. New York Giants - Dion Jordan, DE/LB, Oregon - When the Giants have been successful, it's usually because of their pass rush, and they need to replenish there after a down season. Jordan is raw, needs to add strength and fill out, but has rare athleticism for his size and could be a good value pick here if his balky shoulder is OK.
"I kind of like Dion Jordan, who I think is two years away from being an Aldon Smith-type player," Mayock said. "He's only about 240 pounds, but he's 6- foot-7. He's got frightening athletic skills, and he's a year away. He would be a situational pass-rusher year one, and if he puts 20 pounds on, I think he's going to be a perennial All-Pro."
Previous Pick: Jordan
20. Chicago Bears - D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama - The Bears need to address their offensive line woes and Fluker, who projects best on the right side, is the top guy left on the board.
"I think they have to take an offensive lineman," Mayock said when addressing the Bears. "I think they've got to protect their quarterback much better than they have. When Jay Cutler is protected, he's one of the top quarterbacks in football. Fluker is right tackle only, but I think he's going to be special down the road."
Previous Pick - Johnson
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia - Ogletree has had off-the- field issues, but the Bengals are rarely shy with such things, and will be looking linebacker or defensive end since Michael Johnson is a pending free agent. A former safety, Ogletree has rare range for a linebacker and could be a three-down guy early in his NFL career
"You want to talk about a kid that's made for the NFL game with an ability to drop and cover, a former safety. He's fun to watch on tape," Mayock said of Ogletree. "He flies. He's explosive. He's not great against the run, but, boy, in today's NFL spread offenses, he's a great fit."
Previous Pick: Ogletree
22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins) - Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia - The Titus Young experiment lasted about a week in St. Louis and Danny Amendola is a free agent, so picking Austin here makes sense. Perhaps the best slot receiver in the draft, the undersized Austin was a running back in high school and offers a lot of versatility.
"Tavon Austin is a playmaker," Mayock said. "People want to make the comparison to Percy Harvin. He's 20 pounds lighter than Percy Harvin. To me, he's more like could he be a Wes Welker and a tremendous return guy."
Previous Pick: Patterson
23. Minnesota Vikings - Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina - The Vikings would love to get receiver help for Christian Ponder, but with Patterson and Allen off the board, they will look to fortify the interior of the defense, where Kevin Williams is slipping at under tackle and Letroy Guion has underachieved on the nose. Williams is the type of player who is a handful at the point of attack and could start the second version of the Williams Wall in Minneapolis.
"If you're talking about defensive tackles, if any of the top three, Sharrif Floyd, Star Lotulelei, Sheldon Richardson was there, I'd jump all over them," Mayock said when talking about the Vikings' needs. "I think they'll be gone by the time Minnesota gets on the board at 23. That means Sylvester Williams, Kawann Short and Johnathan Hankins are potential D-tackles. All three of them are gifted and talented kids and would fit what Minnesota does."
Previous Pick: John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
24. Indianapolis Colts - Jonathan Banks - cornerback - Mississippi State - Chuck Pagano needs to continue to build up his 3-4 defense in Indy and help on the outside is paramount. Banks has surpassed Washington's Desmond Trufant as the second-best corner available and the Colts should strike here.
"People like his length. He's got some press ability. He's long," Mayock said when talking about Banks. "I think he locks up a first round (slot) if he runs under a 4.5. If he runs 4.55, or 4.58, he's not going there. So for Banks, it's a critical, critical weekend."
Previous Pick: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
25. Seattle Seahawks - Sam Montgomery, DE, - Chris Clemons' ACL injury in the postseason means the Seahawks will be looking at pass rushers, and Montgomery, a rangy, weakside end could be a solid pick at this stage.
"I feel like Sam Montgomery brings it every snap more than his teammate Mingo does," Mayock said. "He's not as quick, he's not as gifted, but he's very physical and tough."
Previous Pick: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
26. Green Bay Packers - Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama - It's pretty clear Mike McCarthy would like to throw the ball 60 times a games and we all know how good Aaron Rodgers is, but it's time for the Pack to finally solve their running back woes by taking Lacy, a true bell-cow back. Lacy may not be a home run hitter, but he will move the chains consistently.
Previous Pick: Barrett Jones, OG Alabama
27. Houston Texans - DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson - The Texans really need to get a complement to Andre Johnson and Hopkins may be a bit of a reach here, but his size and ball skills could force the issue for Houston.
"Hopkins is intriguing, very smooth, good hands," Mayock said. "I've got him as a mid to late second-round player. He made an awful lot of plays and he's good with the ball in his hands after the catch."
Previous Pick: Austin
28. Denver Broncos - Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame - Jacob Tamme and Joel Dressen were solid players for the Broncos in 2012, but Eifert is a difference maker at tight end. The former Notre Dame star rates a little higher than the other option, Stanford's Zach Ertz. Eifert has the hands to be a security blanket, is an above-average blocker in the running game and high points the football better than just about anyone on the pro level.
"I thought that Eifert did a better job blocking this year than he did in past years and a little better job than Ertz did ... (as) more of a move guy," Mayock said. "So if you asked me to rank them today, it would be Eifert first, because I could line him up in-line, even though he's not a stone killer, he can at least play leverage and block in line."
Previous Pick: Eifert
29. New England Patriots - Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas - Center field has been an issue for the Patriots, and Vaccaro has the ideal combination of size and athleticism to roam from sideline to sideline as an NFL free safety.
"He covered a bunch of slots this year," Mayock said of Vaccaro. "In today's world, that's rare and it's important. And I think his coverage ability is quick feet. He's tough as nails. He tackles."
Previous Pick: Vaccaro
30. Atlanta Falcons - Datone Jones, DE, UCLA - The Falcons are pulling out all the stops to convince Tony Gonzalez to play one more season. If they can't, Ertz is probably their guy here, but a Gonzo return could open up defensive end for Atlanta and UCLA's Jones, a player with long arms, a lively body and a good first step would be a solid fit.
Previous Pick: Ertz
31. San Francisco 49ers - Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington - Chris Culliver's Super Bowl woes likely convinced Jim Harbaugh he needs help on the outside and a great Senior Bowl week has Trufant in the first-round conversation. Trufant, like Banks and Xavier Rhodes of Florida State, needs to run well at the combine to seal the deal.
Previous Pick: Hopkins
32. Baltimore Ravens - Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame - A poor national championship game against Alabama along with a bizarre personal scandal has sent Te'o plummeting, but the Ravens are a perfect fit. They can afford to take a chance, and with Ray Lewis retiring, Baltimore needs an inside linebacker. Te'o, of course, is best-suited for a 4-3, and if he runs well enough at the combine or his pro day, he could move back up a bit.
"To me, Manti Te'o should come off the board plus or minus 20," Mayock said. "He could drop a little bit if people aren't buying into him like they used to. And then Ogletree is potentially a top-10 player who has had significant issues. If either one of those players slid to Baltimore, I think they'd sprint to the podium."
Previous Pick: Te'o
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