16 things we learned from Mike Mayock's media teleconference

NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock took nearly two hours of questions about the 2015 NFL Draft on a media teleconference Thursday. Here are 16 things we learned from Mayock's answers:



1. Red flags fly high: Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston isn't getting a pass from Mayock for off-field character concerns, or for that matter, the on-field decision making that had a role in his 18 interceptions last year. Part of the reason for the hesitance about Winston's off-field history? The debacle that was Johnny Manziel's rookie season (and offseason) led Mayock to approach his assessment of Winston with more caution.

2. Jetting to podium? If Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota reaches the No. 6 pick of the draft without hearing his name called, the New York Jets should waste no time in filling out their draft card with his name. Said Mayock: "If I'm the Jets, and you really like Mariota, you think about going from No. 6 to No. 2, and you think about going from No. 6 to No. 5, just to guarantee nobody can jump you."

3. Lacking in depth: The most talent-poor positions in the 2015 draft class are safety, tight end and quarterback.

4. Leading the defense: USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams and Florida defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. are the top two defensive players in the draft. Both should be gone within the top five picks.

5. Wide receivers aplenty: A compelling case can be made for the Jacksonville Jaguars drafting Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper at No. 3 overall, but based on the receiving talent available later in the draft, defense is the right play for the Jaguars. Said Mayock: "They need to upgrade that defensive front, and that wide receiver class is so deep this year. I think if (the Jaguars) want a receiver, you can get him at No. 36." ... More from the Department of Wide Receiver Depth: Mayock views Florida State's Rashad Greene, who posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons for the Seminoles, as a third-round pick.

6. Chief options: LSU offensive lineman La'el Collins and Miami offensive lineman Ereck Flowers are two strong possibilities for the Kansas City Chiefs with the No. 18 pick. Both have needs at both tackle and guard, and both prospects can play either position.

7. Bear market: Look for the Chicago Bears to take either a wide receiver or a defensive player with the No. 7 overall pick. Said Mayock: "They are obviously hoping for both quarterbacks to go ahead of them."

8. Dropoff: Iowa's Brandon Scherff rates as the top offensive lineman in the draft. After that? Well, Scherff is on a tier by himself. Said Mayock: "After (Scherff), there are an awful lot of question marks. That doesn't mean there's not a lot of talent, because there is. But I could take, for instance, Ereck Flowers, D.J. Humphries, Andrus Peat, and T.J. Clemmings -- all are gifted first-round tackles -- but I could poke a hole in every one of those kids, either from a technique perspective, or an off-the-field perspective, or whatever."

9. Ajayi's health: There are some medical concerns about Boise State running back Jay Ajayi, though he remains a "solid" second-round pick. Some teams are more concerned than others, Mayock said, but the issues won't help him on Day 2.

10. The Peters kiddie slide: Character concerns about former Washington cornerback Marcus Peters have been as well-documented as anyone in the draft except Jameis Winston. But don't look for him to fall out of the first round. Mayock said Peters would be a top 15-18 pick absent those concerns, but despite them, he expects Peters to be taken between picks 20-32.

11. The Gregory super slide: There is no telling where Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory might fall in the draft, thanks to concerns about failed drug tests. And because of that, teams with picks late in the first round are readying in case Gregory -- whom Mayock regards as a top-10 talent -- falls further than expected. "This is one of those deals where teams keep it real quiet. They don't let anybody know, and they get their owner to buy in if he's there at whatever number. ... Pick a number, but everybody is doing their homework in case he gets to them."

12. Packers' plans: Don't be surprised if the Green Bay Packers draft an inside linebacker -- perhaps Mississippi State's Benardrick McKinney -- with an eye toward moving veteran Clay Matthews back to outside linebacker. Two other possibilities at the position for Green Bay: Clemson's Stephone Anthony and Miami's Denzel Perryman.

13. Dawson's range: Speaking of inside linebackers, TCU's Paul Dawson is a tough prediction. Thanks to concerns about Dawson's "football character," Mayock projected him anywhere from a late-second-round pick to a fourth-rounder.

14. Timing is key: Although inside linebacker is a glaring need for the San Francisco 49ers with the offseason retirements of Patrick Willis and Chris Borland, the club's pick in the first round (No. 15 overall) is a bit rich for the position. As such, look for San Francisco to wait until Day 2 to address that need -- and get more value in the first round with a guy like versatile Oregon defensive lineman Arik Armstead.

15. On guard, Seahawks: The defending NFC champions don't have a pick until No. 63 overall, near the end of the second round. Two strong possibilities that could be available there, according to Mayock: Duke guard Laken Tomlinson and South Carolina guard A.J. Cann.



16. Sit tight, Landon: Conventional pre-draft wisdom has held that Alabama's Landon Collins will be the first safety chosen in the draft. Mayock, however, believes Arizona State's Damarious Randall will get the call before Collins. The reason? He's the best coverage safety available, whereas Collins is more of an "in the box" defender.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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