The NFL Scouting Combine gives the next generation of NFL stars a chance to meet with teams and separate themselves from the pack. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock gave his thoughts on some of the big names at the Scouting Combine, as well as how he thinks the recent crop of quarterbacks could change the NFL landscape.
While the head coach at Oregon, Chip Kelly became a household name with his up-tempo offense. That scheme used elements of the read-option, a concept that has made its way into the NFL. While some coaches and pundits have dismissed the read-option, Mayock believes it's here to stay.
"I'm a big believer that exceptional quarterback play on either side of that equation," he said. "I'm not ready to say there are any dinosaurs; I'll take Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, any of those guys any day of the week. But I'd also love to have a (Colin) Kaepernick or a Russell Wilson.
"To me, the whole key to the read-option, to make it really simple, is (that) you don't need to run read-option 20 times a game. As a matter of fact, your quarterback probably gets hurt and that's what all defensive coordinators talk about. But just the threat of it – you run it four, five, six times a game – changes the way a defensive coordinator calls his game, and there is an advantage to the offense for that."
It remains unclear whether Kelly will actually run a read-option attack in Philadelphia. The Eagles currently employ four quarterbacks and will have an open competition for the starting role. Mayock doesn't see the Eagles taking a signal-caller with the fourth overall pick.
On defense, all eyes were on Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, and it had little to do with his on-field work. His "catfish" scandal has led many in the NFL community to question his decision-making. Mayock thought Te'o handled himself well with the media, but believes the linebacker still has plenty to prove to teams on and off the field.
"What I saw (in his press conference) and what resonated, he was genuine; I don't think it was scripted. I thought it was genuine," Mayock said. "I thought it came from the heart. He obviously wants to move on and get to the football, which I get. He's going to have some embarrassing moments between now and the draft where teams grill him and it's going to be tough.
"But he's happy to get that beyond him and when he gets on the field (for position drills), teams are going to be worried about his defense against the pass; he had seven interceptions this year, he dropped about 10 or 12 pounds," Mayock said. "Anything 4.7 or better (in the 40-yard dash) would be phenomenal; 4.8-plus is going to be a concern. In that 4.7 to 4.8 range is going to be what an inside linebacker is expected to run."
Mayock predicted that Te'o could secure his place as a projected first-round pick with a strong time in the 40-yard dash, but he clocked in with a time of 4.82.
Two players who have been linked to the Eagles in Mock Drafts are Oregon linebacker/defensive end Dion Jordan and Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner. While both are considered among the best prospects at their respective positions, both came to the Combine nursing injuries. These injuries will prevent them from running through every drill, but Mayock doesn't think it'll hurt either player's draft stock.
"Dion Jordan and Dee Milliner held off just so that they could compete at the Combine; they're going to do everything but the bench (press) I think," Mayock said. "I respect them for that and as long as it's the minor surgery that apparently it is, I don't think it's going to affect them at all. Dion Jordan is a guy to me that's had trouble in keeping weight on and part of the problem has been that shoulder. So if you want to like Dion Jordan, and I do, Dion Jordan could be an Aldon Smith-type of defensive player, but he has to put 20 pounds. To do that, he has to get the shoulder right."
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