- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock held a conference call on Monday, and here is what we learned about the 2013 draft – putting our own Patriots twist on things -- from Mayock’s perspective:
1. Best overall depth in 10 years. In his opening remarks, Mayock provided the following snapshot of the 2013 draft: Possibly the best overall depth he’s seen in 10 years, not the standard difference-makers in the top 10, and a lot of holes in the quarterbacks. Later, Mayock added that he doesn’t see much of a difference between picks 5 and 25. The Patriots have just five selections in the draft, and perhaps the depth of the draft leads Bill Belichick to seek trade-downs to bolster his draft-day ammunition.
2. One of the best safety classes in years. Mayock views this safety class as one of the best he’s seen. This echoes the thoughts of ESPN’s Todd McShay from last week, who called this a “very deep group of safeties.” One thing to keep in mind on this type of information is that if a team like the Patriots views it the same way, it could affect the level of aggressiveness of potential pursuit of free agents like Ed Reed and/or Charles Woodson. Understanding the areas of strength of the draft, and marrying it to free agency, is an annual exercise in front offices around the NFL.
3. If you like Anquan Boldin … Keenan Allen could be your WR. California receiver Keenan Allen (6-3, 210) drew raves from Mayock, who made the point that if teams are comfortable with Allen’s speed, he could be viewed as an Anquan Boldin-type. But if teams get hung up on speed questions with Allen, that could lead him to slide a bit. Mayock seems to think Allen is a nice fit in the 20-30 range of the first round, citing his size, toughness and ability to get off press coverage, among other things. The Patriots pick at No. 29 and if they inject some size and youth at receiver, Allen could be a player on their radar if he slides (which could happen if he doesn’t run sub-4.5 in the 40 at the combine).
4. Just one cornerback with first-round grade at this time. When Mayock shared some of his prospects with first-round grades, he highlighted six offensive tackles, six defensive tackles, two receivers and one cornerback. The light cornerback class after Alabama’s Dee Milliner was notable from this perspective because it could be an area of interest for the Patriots. Mayock said Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks could work his way into the first round by running well at the combine. One other point from Mayock that adds good context for this time of year: cornerbacks and receivers are “true speed positions” and the combine is where teams look for the an accurate gauge of their speed.
5. Chance Warmack – best player on tape. Mayock said that Alabama guard Chance Warmack is the best player he’s seen on tape this year. He put Warmack, Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel, Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher and North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper as the four players who the Chiefs would be deciding between with the No. 1 overall pick.