- Mike Reiss, ESPN New England Patriots reporter
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Draft analyst Mike Mayock of NFL Network held a conference call Wednesday (we look forward to Todd McShay's call today) and here are some of the things we learned about the 2012 draft from Mayock's view:
1. Defensive tackle is a position of strength as it was bolstered by several underclassmen declaring for the draft. There are 5-7 defensive tackles with first-round grades, depending on what scheme a team plays.
2. The defensive end/outside linebacker crop is not strong.
3. After the top four receivers who have first-round grades -- Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma State), Kendall Wright (Baylor), Michael Floyd (Notre Dame) and Rueben Randle (LSU) -- there are a lot of questions. Floyd and/or Randle could slide depending on how well they run. Wright is likely to fly at the combine (projected 4.3 in the 40) and could be a top 15 pick.
4. There are a lot of bigger-bodied receivers in this class (South Carolina's Alshon Jeffrey, Rutgers' Mohamed Sanu, Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller etc.) and how they run at the combine will be important to their draft stock. Jeffrey and Senu don't have first-round grades as they have struggled to separate against press coverage.
5. After the top three corners who are considered first-round talents -- Morris Claiborne (LSU), Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama) and Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama) -- it is "pick your flavor." Jenkins is one of the "boom or bust" prospects in this draft as he's immensely talented but has had off-field problems.
6. The interior offensive line is one of the best classes in this draft. Over the first three rounds, there is quality to be had at center and guard.
7. There are likely to be three quarterbacks taken in the first round -- Andrew Luck (Stanford), Robert Griffin III (Baylor) and Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M). Tannehill is a former receiver who has the measureables but doesn't have the ideal starting experience teams prefer. Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State) could sneak into the first round, but the fact he's 28 years old could scare some teams off.
8. Boston College's Luke Kuechly is viewed as the best inside linebacker in the draft "by far" and a Day 1 starter. Great instincts with the ability to move under and over blocks; a player who compares to the Cowboys' Sean Lee.
9. Alabama running back Trent Richardson is likely to be selected in the first 16 picks, and after that, there isn't another running back with a first-round grade. Running backs David Wilson (Virginia Tech) and Lamar Miller (Miami) are similar type backs -- one cut and go with good burst -- and they are viewed as early second-rounders.
10. No tight ends with first-round grades. The top players at the position (Georgia's Orson Charles, Stanford's Coby Fleener and Clemson's Dwayne Allen) are the "quick, (Aaron) Hernandez type" options who aren't considered strong in-line blockers. They are expected to start coming off the board in the second round.
11. The safety spot in the draft is not very good. It starts with Alabama's Mark Barron, whose medical situation (hernia) drew a comparison to Steelers tight end Heath Miller when Miller slipped to No. 30 in the 2005 draft after having a hernia that limited him in the pre-draft process. Barron has a lot of "strong" tape over his career that teams will have to rely on without the benefit of a combine workout.
12. The first seven to eight picks are pretty solid, then after that comes some questions. That adds some potential intrigue to the coin flip between the Dolphins and Panthers to see who will pick eighth and ninth.
Draft analyst Mike Mayock of NFL Network held a conference call Wednesday (we look forward to Todd McShay's call today) and here are some of the things we learned about the 2012 draft from Mayock's view:1.