NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock was among Johnny Manziel’s biggest supporters during the run-up to the 2014 NFL Draft, even comparing him to Hall of Famer Steve Young.
He issued something of a mea culpa Monday during a teleconference ahead of the NFL Combine.
Mayock said he overlooked some red flags on Manziel, who slipped to the Browns and No. 22 and made a mess of his rookie season in Cleveland.
“I’m fairly conservative, and I kind of let myself get talked into, in my own head, ‘I wanted to root for this kid,’” Mayock said.
Mayock, who is widely considered one of the preeminent draft evaluators in the media business, said he learned from Manziel’s situation.
NFL teams probably did, too.
“I don’t ever get as close to those situations as the teams do, because I don’t have a security group and a bunch of psychologists,” Mayock said. “But I do get some information. As we get closer to the draft, I will start to ding those kids and you’ll see some of them will start to slide down my board. There’s a reason. I’ll get more information, and I’ll act accordingly.”
Former Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham — who was dismissed from the Tigers in April and wound up transferring to Oklahoma, where he sat out the 2014 season — is among the players in the high-risk category for the 2015 draft class.
Mayock said he has Green-Beckham rated as the No. 4 wide receiver in the 2015 draft class, but cautioned: “You better do your homework off the field.”
Green-Beckham is ranked behind West Virginia’s Kevin White, Alabama’s Amari Cooper and Louisville’s DeVante Parker.
Nobody doubts Green-Beckham’s talent, but he was arrested twice for marijuana possession and later dismissed amid an assault investigation at MU.
He’s going to get drafted.
Green-Beckham reportedly ran a 4.37 40-yard dash, which is incredible for a 6-foot-6, 225-pound wide receiver, and he was a productive player, with 59 catches for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore for the Tigers.
But Green-Beckham’s off-field issues might give NFL teams pause before handing out a big-money, first-round contract.
“Green-Beckham this year is going to be a polarizing conversation,” Mayock said.
He compared it to Dez Bryant, Justin Blackmon and Josh Gordon.
“All three of those guys, gifted wide receivers with significant off-the-field issues,” Mayock said. “One of the three has turned out — Dez Bryant. That’s probably about the right ratio, so how do you not mess up? That’s your question, and I’m not sure there’s a right answer other than being a little more conservative.”
Bryant, who wasn’t allowed to take part in Oklahoma State’s pro day before entering the draft, became an All-Pro with the Cowboys.
After a strong rookie season, Blackmon was suspended for most of the 2013 season and all of the 2014 season for repeated violations of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
Gordon, a second-round supplemental pick by the Browns in 2012, had substance-abuse issues at Baylor and now faces a season-long suspension for repeated violations in the NFL.
Mayock said the character evaluation process also might affect his (and NFL teams’) view of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, who is currently his top-rated quarterback.
Winston had several run-ins with the law during his time with the Seminoles and also was suspended for a profane display on campus last season. He was the subject of a sexual-assault investigation, though no charges ever were filed.
Washington cornerback Marcus Peters, who had discipline issues after Chris Petersen took the Huskies’ reins, also will have some questions arise regarding his character.
Mayock said sometimes an organization gets seduced by talent and the belief it can help fix a troubled young man “when, most of the time, statistically, it can’t.”