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Friday, February 17, 2012
What we learned from McShay

By Mike Reiss

What we learned about the 2012 NFL Draft after listening to ESPN's Todd McShay on a conference call with reporters on Thursday:

1. One trend that stands out from this year's draft class -- bigger pass-catchers.

2. Stanford tight end Coby Fleener is viewed as one of the more underrated players in the entire draft. While NFL Network's Mike Mayock didn't have a tight end with a first-round grade, McShay puts Fleener in the late first-round range.

3. Not a deep class at tight end, but McShay likes the pass-catching ability of the few players at the top of the board -- Fleener, Dwayne Allen (Clemson) and Orson Charles (Georgia). McShay envisions the top three tight ends coming off the board in the top 40-45 picks.

4. Good class for linebackers who play off the line of scrimmage (e.g. the Jerod Mayo type player).

5. When looking at the last five years of elite receivers in the draft, it's Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green at the top of the list. McShay then puts Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon in the second tier with the likes of Dez Bryant, Julio Jones, Michael Crabtree etc. For the Rams at No. 2, McShay thinks that pick is too rich for Blackmon.

6. Syracuse defensive end/outside linebacker Chandler Jones is a player who could climb up draft boards as teams get more comfortable with his health (he missed half of last season with injury). McShay currently has him going to the Patriots at No. 27 in his recent mock draft.

7. When looking at top players in the draft from the sub-Division I level, it starts at the cornerback spot with Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama, transferring from Florida), Trumaine Johnson (Montana) and Josh Norman (Coastal Carolina). McShay estimates 5-7 players from the sub-Division I level coming off the board in the first three rounds. Jenkins had a solid Senior Bowl.

8. LSU receiver Rueben Randle surprised McShay with his athleticism and toughness after the catch when watching tape. McShay said that even though every highlight of Randle seems to be a deep ball, he's more than just a "9-route guy." Physicality, and having a better attitude when things aren't going his way, are areas of concern with him.

9. Outside of Justin Blackmon at receiver, South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery is viewed as the best pass-catcher when the ball is in the air; great on the jump ball. Jeffrey's weight and agility is a concern, and reminds McShay of Mike Williams coming out of USC. Jeffrey has "first-round natural talent" but will probably land in the second round.

10. Players who McShay views need to have a good combine -- both in interviews and drills -- to increase their stock: CB Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama), WR Mohamed Sanu (Rutgers), TE Orson Charles (Georgia), among others.