NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock had a busy Sunday -- almost nine on-air hours -- on NFL Network reporting from the NFL Scouting Combine. Here are 10 takeaways from Mayock:
1. Manziel's pocket play a concern
Mayock loves Texas A&M's quarterback Johnny Manziel's "innate feel" for the game, but he also wonders about Manziel's pocket presence in the NFL. Mayock said he "sees [Doug] Flutie and [Fran] Tarkenton" when watching Manziel tape, and Mayock said Manziel has a definite "wow factor."
But Mayock questions Manziel's accuracy and decision-making when he is in the pocket. Manziel might be at his best when he can improvise, but Manziel struggled in losses to LSU and Missouri because those teams kept him in the pocket. Mayock said Mizzou and LSU "set a cage up, set a fence" and kept Manziel from improvising. He said NFL defenses would try to do the same.
2. Bortles fits Texans
Mayock said he thought UCF's Blake Bortles was "a franchise quarterback" and "fits what [Houston Texans coach] Bill O'Brien likes" in his quarterbacks. But Bortles has some issues, Mayock said. The biggest negative is "inconsistent ball location, especially on deep routes." NFL Network analyst Brian Billick said of Bortles, "I don't see any negatives. ... With every exposure I get of this guy, I get more impressed."
3. Bridgewater 'most NFL-ready'
Mayock said Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater is the "most NFL-ready" quarterback in the draft. "I think Bortles can be ready shortly thereafter," he said. Mayock said there are durability issues related to Bridgewater's frame. But he also said Bridgewater can do all the necessary things from under center and in the shotgun. Mayock also said Bridgewater should appeal to the Houston Texans, who have the No. 1 pick in the draft. He said new Texans coach Bill O'Brien's background was with "old-school, traditional quarterbacks," and Bridgewater fits that mold.
4. Evans 'a top-15 pick'
Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans, who is 6-foot-5 and 231, had a 4.53 clocking, and "that's fine" for a guy his size, Mayock said. Mayock is high on Evans, though he says Evans must become a better route runner. "He is going to have to learn how to create separation with his body," Mayock said. Still, Mayock says he is "a top-15 pick in today's NFL." Evans also had a 37-inch vertical jump.
5. Oregon State WR stands out
Oregon State's Brandin Cooks had the fastest clocking among the wide receivers, at 4.33 seconds. Mayock said Cooks is "one of my favorite players," has "fantastic hands" and that he should go late in the first round or early in the second. "This kid's special with the ball in his hands," Mayock said.
6. Landry, Robinson disappoint
Two of the top 10 or so wide receivers are LSU's Jarvis Landry and Penn State's Allen Robinson. Neither ran that well. Landry clocked a 4.77 on his first attempt, then bypassed his second run with a minor calf injury. Robinson's best time was a 4.60. "Those are numbers that have to get better for both guys at their pro days," Mayock said. Mayock also said of Landry, "I'm not getting off that kid; I still like him a lot."
7. No RB in 1st round
Mayock's top running back is Ohio State's Carlos Hyde, but Hyde pulled a hamstring in his first 40-yard dash attempt and missed the rest of the day. Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey -- who led the nation in rushing in 2012 and was second in 2013 -- isn't in Mayock's top five among running backs. "He does a lot of things well ... but doesn't have one outstanding trait," Mayock said. He said he thought Carey would go in the second or third round. Mayock isn't overly enthusiastic about any running back, saying he doesn't foresee one going in the first round. No running back went in the first round in 2012, either. He likes the running ability of Auburn's Tre Mason but said Mason "hasn't blocked anybody yet." Mayock also likes Boston College's Andre Williams, who led the nation in rushing, but said his receiving ability -- or inability -- is a concern, noting Williams had zero receptions in 2013. "He's not a natural" as a receiver, Mayock said, "and that has to be taken into consideration" when you evaluate Williams' draft stock.
8. Hokies' Thomas a 'wild card'
Mayock said Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas -- who measured at 6-6 and 248 pounds -- is a "wild card" in the draft. "He is all over the place during his games from an accuracy standpoint," Mayock said. But Mayock also raved about Thomas' athleticism and his arm strength; Thomas led all quarterbacks in the 40 (4.61), board jump (9 feet, 10 inches) and vertical jump (35.5 inches). Mayock said "his tape is so bad for the most part" that he could see him going as late as the sixth round. "If you could figure out Logan Thomas, he has starting quarterback credentials," Mayock said. NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci definitely is intrigued by Thomas' potential: "He would be a fun project to coach." Mariucci said he could see Thomas going in the middle rounds.
9. McCarron's different
Alabama's AJ McCarron is Mayock's No. 5 quarterback. A knock against McCarron from some is that he is a game manager, but Mayock doesn't buy that designation. "He's got a live arm," Mayock said. "Don't lump him in with those other [recent] Alabama quarterbacks."
10. Archer's pro comparison
Mayock called Kent State running back Dri Archer -- who had a 4.26-second clocking in the 40-yard dash, the fastest of the combine so far -- "an Ace Sanders-kind of guy." Sanders had 51 receptions and was an effective punt returner for the Jacksonville Jaguars as a rookie in 2013. Because of his size (5-8, 173), Archer obviously can't be an every-down back in the NFL and might fit best in the slot. Archer is faster than Sanders, but not as thick. Coincidentally, the two grew up about 45 minutes form each other -- Sanders in Bradenton, Fla., and Archer in Venice, Fla. NFL Network analyst LaDainian Tomlinson said he doesn't put that much stock into 40 times. "Football speed is different" than track speed, he said. Fellow analyst Marshall Faulk said 40 times are useful with the so-called "home-run hitters" among the backs. Faulk also said that the first 10-yard split, which is not made public, is "huge" for running backs. That shows how quickly a back can get up on a safety, Faulk said.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.