If you happened to be on Twitter today, and you happen to follow multiple people who cover the NFL, you probably noticed this is Mike Mayock Conference Call Day.
What is that? Well, every year, a few days before the NFL Combine, Mayock holds a marathon conference call with the reporters who covers the league. He typically answers every question, which rarely happens with other analysts, and it is appreciated. We all have jobs to do, and Mayock goes out of his want to make sure that we can do ours.
Anyway, Mayock said some interesting things about the 2017 NFL Draft, and as I prepare for the combine, I thought it might be helpful for you guys if I run through some of them and give you some thoughts on how they might relate to the Chiefs before the combine, which starts in earnest on Wednesday.
(By the way, before you read on, check out my story on Mayock’s thoughts on Alex Smith, and where the Chiefs might go from here.)
1. Mayock: “In the last 10 years, there have been 26 first-round quarterbacks drafted ... you’re looking at about a 20 percent chance of drafting a franchise quarterback with a first-round pick, and my message to NFL teams is you’ve got to keep trying, you’ve got to keep swinging.”
Analysis: Agreed. This is important to remember when you consider the Chiefs’ current quarterback situation. They’ve selected Aaron Murray (’14) and Kevin Hogan (’16) in the fifth round in recent years, but the Chiefs struck out on both, with neither player making the 53-man roster to open the season.
In my opinion, it’s time for the Chiefs to invest a high pick in a quarterback. It’s time to prepare for the future. It’s borderline disrespectful to expect a rookie to be better than Smith this year — no one expected Dak Prescott to do what he did — but the Chiefs need to get a premium talent in the pipeline, especially with Smith’s $20.6 million cap number for 2018 (which can clear $17 million in cap room, if released) looming large.
2. Mayock: “This is one of the best defensive drafts I’ve seen, and I think the defensive edge rushers — whether it’s 4-3 or 3-4 — (is good). You can get a corner in the second or third round and you can get an edge guy in the second or third round. This defensive draft, at edge and corner, is outstanding. Also at safety.”
Analysis: This is great for the Chiefs, who could use reinforcements at every position Mayock listed (even safety). The need for an edge rusher might be a surprise to some, but honestly they’re like “Black Mirror” episodes — you can never have enough. The Chiefs have 10 picks this year, and I think they should draft at least one edge rusher this year, despite the presence of Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Dee Ford and Dadi Nicolas. Remember, the Chiefs have to make a decision on Dee Ford’s fifth-year option, which should be somewhere around $8.4 million, by May 3.
At corner, Marcus Peters is a bonafide stud, Steven Nelson has developed into a solid nickel corner and Terrance Mitchell was a revelation on the outside. But Phillip Gaines, while talented, has to prove he can stay healthy and 2016 sixth-round pick D.J. White is unproven. Like edge rushers, you can never have enough corners, and the chance to flank Peters across from a ball-hawking stud (if the Chiefs can identify one) and potentially bump Mitchell down to a tremendous fourth option would be tempting.
3. Mayock: “Davis Webb from Cal ... was the MVP of the Senior Bowl, is very much a spread guy and he’s not ready to play, but he’s a big guy, he’s got a live arm, he’s got good enough feet. He’s another guy I’d really like to develop.”
Analysis: Webb is a guy I haven’t done enough film work on to comment, but if Mayock is right ... keep an eye on this dude. Also keep an eye on the next guy.
4. Mayock: “There’s a lot of conversation about Patrick Mahomes from Texas Tech. He’s different. He’s a gunslinger, he’s got an innate feel for the game. The more I look at him, the more I’m kind of pushing him higher and closer to that first-round conversation with Kizer, Watson and Trubisky. I think Mahomes is picking up steam in NFL circles.
Analysis: Mahomes is a guy who definitely intrigues me. The fact we did a podcast on him two weeks ago is a pretty good indicator of that. I’m not convinced he’s ready to contribute immediately; he never had to spit out lengthy playcalls at Texas Tech (neither did Chiefs backup Tyler Bray, who needed two years to get Andy Reid’s playcalls out). But Mahomes has a cannon, he’s a gunslinger and he reminds me a little bit of a less-polished Matthew Stafford. Chiefs fans will love him because he will absolutely attempt to go up top, even if he is prone to the kind of silly mistakes Alex Smith never makes. He’s somebody I’m talking myself into being a late first-round pick, if — and that’s a big if — Andy Reid is in on him.
5. Mayock: “(Deshaun) Watson, from my perspective ... I’m fascinated with the kid. Just a real quick overview on the quarterback position in general, I’m not bullish on the quarterbacks this year because I don’t think any of them are ready Day 1, and I think they all have different issues. But when you look at Deshaun Watson, I see a kid that went 28-2 in his last two years as a starter, I thought he played his best when the lights were brightest against the best defenses ... when the game’s on the line, he gets better. He does not shrink. I love and am fascinated by him. But my concern, like all spread quarterbacks ... they all have a major adjustment when they get to the NFL, and Deshaun Watson, like those other guys, has to show he can win in the pocket. When he sits there and that first read is available, he’s really good. He can make throws at all three levels with great accuracy. But when that first look isn’t there, it starts to break down a little bit. Part of his instinct is to try to get out of the pocket, but when he stays in the pocket, his accuracy drops and his decision-making drops, and he throws a lot of interceptions where he doesn’t see underneath coverage, and typically it’s on his second- or third read.”
My take: This is a terrific breakdown of Watson, and one of the reasons Mayock is one of the best. For the record, quarterbacks who win on the big stage in college with their arm, like Jameis Winston, for instance, typically develop into pretty good quarterbacks. Watson needs to sit for a year, but he’d be a perfect fit in Kansas City with all of the zone-read stuff the Chiefs do. Andy Reid would coach this guy up. I doubt he’ll be available at No. 27 but if he is ... man he’d be a terrific fit.