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Mayock's Five Thoughts On Combine

A running collection of the latest sights from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, where the top college recruits showcase their skills for coaches and scouts.

The hottest topic at Mike Mayock's NFL Combine-closing press conference was the discussion of the league's future gunslingers. It seems likely that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be using their No. 1 overall pick on a quarterback, and Mayock said he's been impressed with the top two quarterback prospects, Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Florida State's Jameis Winston.

1. Mariota, Winston Can Have Instant Impact

"The two top guys, I thought Winston and Mariota were outstanding," Mayock said.

"The thing that I like about Jameis Winston is I think he throws an extremely catchable ball. He's got all the arm strength you could want, and he makes it easy for the receiver based on the route. He understands that. He gets it. He naturally, innately gets it.

"What I liked about Mariota was the footwork, and you can see how athletic he is - he ran a 4.5 - and you can see that translate to his dropbacks now, that sense of urgency with his feet. I know he'll be able to adapt to getting under center. It's the pocket awareness that you can't tell out here. Physically, he'll be able to do all the things asked of him."

Mayock said he thinks that, of all the quarterback prospects in this year's draft class, Mariota and Winston are the only two he believes can come in to a new team and compete in the NFL immediately.

And even still, he thinks that, recently, college quarterbacks are experiencing a tough learning curve heading into the big leagues. With more and more colleges running their systems instead of pro-ready schemes, quarterbacks have to pick up a lot of information in a short period of time to be ready to compete in the NFL.

"My take, personally, is that after the first two guys, there's nobody ready to step in and play," Mayock explained. "I told you how impressed I was with (Baylor quarterback) Bryce Petty's arm today. The guy throws a beautiful ball. But I don't think he's ready to play."

2. It's A Deep Cornerback Class

One position a number of Eagles fans clamored to see at the Combine was cornerback. After a season with a few too many home-run balls allowed by the Eagles' secondary, this year's strong cornerback class seems like perfect timing.

To Mayock, the growing trend with cornerbacks in the NFL is arm length and height. Long corners are in, and teams are looking for players with big measurables.

"It makes sense when (teams are) drafting (wide receivers like Carolina's) Kelvin Benjamin and those big wideouts who are making immediate impacts, you're looking for long corners," Mayock said.

Mayock liked what he saw from Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes, a player thought to be among the top defensive backs in this year's draft class.

"Trae Waynes is a longer corner, he comes out of a program that I have a lot of respect for on the defensive side of the ball, and you know what you're getting," Mayock said. "I felt the same way about (Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Darqueze) Dennard last year, but (Waynes) is longer."

Mayock was also intrigued by Washington cornerback Marcus Peters, who comes with a few off-field questions but in the end is a similar player to Waynes in terms of measurables, and is "very confident in press coverage" according to Mayock.

In addition, Mayock has another cornerback teams should be keeping an eye on in a first round replete with defensive back talent.

"I think the dark horse here is the LSU kid, Jalen Collins, who I didn't know much about until a couple of weeks ago," he said. "I watched his tape and just went, 'Wow.' The kid started (10 games) in his career and he's a first-round, physical-trait corner who I want to know a lot more about.

"So those three, and then maybe P.J. Williams from Florida State, you throw them all in the mix and there's a bunch of good, long corners at the top end of this draft."

3. Bad News For DBs. It's Another Great Receiver Crop

After an outstanding rookie wide receiver class this past season, Mayock said the league had better gear up for another impressive crop of pass catchers this year.

"A lot of wideouts this year," Mayock said. "Just like last year."

Atop Mayock's board is West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White, who he said has been atop his board since he first started watching tape.

"I think (Alabama wide receiver) Amari Cooper is the safe choice. He's like (former St. Louis Rams wide receiver) Torry Holt, Amari Cooper. Just everything is smooth and easy.

"However, what I see with White is a higher ceiling. I see a bigger guy who runs faster. I was hoping he would run 4.45, 4.46, somewhere in that range. He runs 4.34, 4.35, and he makes everything look easy. Coaches were walking off the field, and every single one was like, 'Wow.' It was easy. Great hands, exploded in every drill, the run."

And there's more to the class than just White and Cooper. Ohio State wide receiver Devin Smith has a second-round grade in Mayock's projections, and Mayock said Smith does one thing better than any receiver he's seen in the last handful of years.

"He tracks the deep ball," Mayock explained. "Look at average per catch, at 28 or whatever it is, and he's a big play guy. Defensive backs were literally lining up 7 yards off of him, turning, and running, and he still beat them deep."

With a number of big-body receivers heading into the league in the last few years, Mayock thinks the ability for wideouts to step into NFL rosters and produce immediately is putting higher value on talented wide receivers and moving them up teams' draft boards. He pointed to Eagles wideout Jordan Matthews, who caught 800 yards' worth of passes for eight touchdowns this past year, as an example of the instant-impact trend of wide receivers.

4. Don't Expect A Move From No. 20 To No. 2

As always, rumors ahead of April's draft include the inevitable trade rumblings. Will teams near the top be willing to part with an all-important high draft pick? Will teams lower down the rung, the Eagles included, be willing to give up valuable pieces of their franchise for a mere chance?

Mayock said he thinks the trade market of this year's draft is, as it always is, very situational.

"It's different, asking me if No. 5 can move up to No. 2 and No. 6 can move up to No. 2 as opposed to No. 20 to No. 2," Mayock explained.

"Is there value sitting at No. 2 for Tennessee? Absolutely. If a quarterback goes No. 1 and they're sitting at No. 2 and they're okay with Zach Mettenberger, then yes, let's see if we can barter a little bit. But Tennessee's got a tough decision to make. They might want that quarterback."

With two potential starting quarterback options in Winston and Mariota positioned to be taken early on the first day of the draft, trading into the top five or 10 picks is a topic of high intrigue.

But Mayock says that, while speculating and predicting is fun and time-consuming, we likely won't know about potential trades until they actually go down.

"I still think we won't know a thing going up to the first day of the Draft," he said. "That's part of the intrigue to it. But yes, I think there could still be some play. No doubt."

5. Will There Be A Kendricks Reunion?

In the City of Brotherly Love, the allure of pairing linebacker Mychal Kendricks with UCLA linebacker and brother Eric Kendricks is intoxicating. The younger Kendricks flexed his talent during the 2014 season, winning the Butkus Award as the top linebacker in the country. A brotherly reunion? It sounds so fun.

But Mayock said that he has his doubts about the viability of a Mychal-Eric combination in the middle of the Eagles' linebacking core.

It's not that he doesn't love Eric's game, he explained.

"I love the tape of Kendricks. The motor and the production at the college level, (he's) fun to watch," Mayock said. "(He gets) to the football, quick in (his) decision making and instincts."

For Mayock, it's more about fitting the right pieces together. The pairing of inside linebackers is a delicate balance, and Mayock doesn't think Mychal and Eric would be the greatest melding as inside linebackers just because the two are so similar.

"One guy has to be a thumper, and one has to be a run-free guy," Mayock explained. "If you're Philadelphia and you're trying to get the Kendricks brothers together, you kind of have the same kind of athletes. You really want a thumper and a Will on the inside."

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