Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey has speed, versatility, and all the athleticism an NFL club could ask for in a first-round draft choice.
NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock paired the two in his commentary about the former Seminoles star during a Tuesday teleconference in which he answered two hours of questions from reporters about the 2016 NFL Draft. According to Mayock, NFL clubs are evaluating Ramsey -- who played cornerback, nickelback and safety in college -- with some level of uncertainty about his ideal position at the NFL level.
"I think most teams would like to believe he's a corner because there's more value attached to that. Could he be Patrick Peterson, for instance? He's got length, he's got world-class speed. Even when he gets beat off the line of sscrimmage in press coverage, it's amazing to see his catch-up speed. It's like beep, beep and he's there. That's on the positive side," Mayock said.
Ramsey is among the top defensive back prospects available in the draft. All four NFL Media analysts who have published mock drafts, Mayock not among them, have projected Ramsey as a top-five pick. But that doesn't mean there aren't some scouting questions lingering about Ramsey as he enters the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week.
"Where I have to do more work and I think NFL teams feel like they have to also is A) Can he find the ball with his back to the quarterback? And B) Can you invest a high draft pick in a defensive back that doesn't turn the ball over regularly. He didn't get a lot of interceptions. I don't think he had any this year. That's the conversation," Mayock added. "Everbody loves him. Everybody believes in him, but what about his on-ball productions at the corner position? Everybody knows he can play free safety. With his eyes on the quarterback, would he be effective in turning the ball over more frequently using that great speed at free safety? That's the conversation. There's no knock on him there. I'm just saying that's the conversation."
Here are 10 other things we learned during Mayock's teleconference:
- Few quarterbacks in recent memory have been more highly regarded entering the draft than Andrew Luck, who was a scout's dream coming out of Stanford in 2012. Mayock stamped North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz with some high praise in suggesting that his ceiling as a quarterback is similar to that of the Indianapolis Colts star.
- Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott is widely considered the top running back available in the draft and Mayock sees him as the only rusher who will be off the board by the end of the first round. So how does he compare with Alabama's Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, who is projected for round two? Mayock sees two very different styles.
"The biggest difference is lateral quickness and burst. Ezekiel Elliott is about as fast going sideways as he is going forward. He probably is going to run 4.45 at 225 pounds," Mayock said. " ... When you look at Henry, he needs a little more road. He's a tall, high-cut, long-legged back, which is atypical. Those backs struggle in the NFL just because there's a lot more vertical mass to aim at. Having said that, I really like the kid ... I value a second-round running back. I think he can carry the ball 25 times a game, I think he gets stronger as the game goes on, and even though his feet aren't the same as Elliott, he's got good feet and he's difficult to tackle."
- Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith, were it not for torn knee ligaments suffered in his final college game would be a candidate to be the No. 1 pick of the draft, Mayock said. The Butkus Award winner won't participate in drill work at the combine this week due to the injury, but Mayock believes Smith will still be a first-round pick.
- Attention clubs who favor the 3-4 defense: Baylor DL Andrew Billings is the "best pure nose guard in this draft," according to Mayock. Good nose guards are tough to find, and while 4-3 defenses have little use for the nose-guard body type, Billings' draft-day wait shouldn't be a long one if 3-4 clubs view him as Mayock does.
- Three offensive linemen who played tackle in college who Mayock projects as second-round picks that will switch to guard: Kansas State's Cody Whitehair, LSU's Vadal Alexander and Texas A&M's Germain Ifedi.
- Remember Arizona LB Scooby Wright? College football's most productive defensive player in 2014, Wright's 2015 season was riddled with injury and disappointment before he returned for a spectacular performance in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. Mayock sees Wright as a third-round pick and a future NFL starter.
- Ole Miss' Laquon Treadwell and Baylor's Corey Coleman are considered the top two wide receivers in the draft, but the group in the next-best category isn't quite as clear-cut. Mayock suggested three names for that second tier of wide receivers: TCU's Josh Doctson, Ohio State's Michael Thomas and Notre Dame's Will Fuller.
- Mayock's draft projection on Ohio State's Braxton Miller, the wondrous athlete with just one season of experience at wide receiver: second round.
- Georgia pass rusher Leonard Floyd has the quick first step and the speed that NFL clubs look for in an edge rusher, but does he have the necessary strength and power at just 231 pounds? Opinions on Floyd are polarized, Mayock said, and the NFL scouts concerned about Floyd point to a Cleveland Browns pass-rushing disappointment, Barkevious Mingo, as the example for why there is caution on Floyd.