NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock kept pace with defensive linemen and linebackers at the NFL Scouting Combine on a busy Monday -- a bit more than six on-air hours -- on the NFL Network. Here are some takeaways from Mayock:
1. Donald earns big grades
Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald had a huge day. Donald ran well (a 4.68 clocking in the 40 -- at 285 pounds), showed well in the vertical (32 inches) and broad (9 feet, 8 inches) jumps and looked good in every drill. "I will put this day up ... with any defensive tackle [at the combine] in the last 10 years," Mayock said. Given Donald's weight, Mayock said his time in the 40 was "just as impressive" as Jadeveon Clowney's stunning 40-yard clocking. Mayock knows some scouts are worried about Donald's "lack of length and short arms" -- Donald is 6-foot-1 and his arm length is 32 5/8 inches -- but he discards those negatives. "He's as disruptive as can be," Mayock said.
2. Forget Clowney's 40 time
Clowney had the best 40 time among the defensive linemen, but while Mayock and NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp were impressed, they also said it didn't matter all that much. "It really doesn't matter what he runs; he's a freak," Mayock said. He also said Clowney's time was "more impressive than Chris Johnson's [4.24 clocking], given his size." Sapp, who was on the field near the 40-yard dash area, called Clowney's run "frightening." On the other hand, Mayock has said since the beginning of the combine that there are "red flags" about Clowney's work ethic, and he reiterated that point Monday, saying, "He turns it on, he turns it off." Sapp was equally adamant that there are issues. He said he had watched Clowney on tape, and he's "ashamed to look at it" because of inconsistent play. Sapp said the tape made you question whether Clowney truly "wanted to play this game." Sapp said there was "no aggressiveness, no hunt" from Clowney in a lot of the tape he had seen.
3. Sam a 'situational' player
Mayock said Missouri defensive end Michael Sam -- who led the SEC with 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss -- is "explosive off the edge." But Sam measured 6-2 and 261 pounds at the combine weigh-in, and Mayock said that is "tweener size" -- too small to be an every-down end. But Mayock said Sam's problem is that he doesn't seem to have the necessary skill set to be a linebacker. "He lacks the ability to drop in coverage," Mayock said. Mayock reiterated a point he made during the weekend: Sam is a "situational pass rusher and core special-teamer." Mayock said he thinks Sam will go in the fifth round, "plus or minus" a round. "There are concerns in league circles about his lack of athleticism," Mayock said.
4. Barr not a top-10 pick
UCLA's Anthony Barr is Mayock's No. 3 linebacker, but Mayock doesn't think Barr is a top-10 pick. While Barr is a good pass rusher, Mayock said that "when he doesn't win with speed," he has issues. Mayock also said Barr also is best against the run as a chaser: "He's not real strong at the point of attack."
5. Mack is 'fluid and explosive'
Mayock has been saying for a few days that Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack would be his No. 1 overall pick and called him "a fluid and explosive athlete" Monday. Mayock isn't the only guy who likes Mack, who set an NCAA career record with 16 forced fumbles and is tied for first in NCAA history with 75 tackles for loss. NFL Media draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah called Mack "explosive, dynamic and productive." He said if you were worried about Mack's level of competition, all you need to do is remember DeMarcus Ware's tape from when he played at Troy. Fellow analyst Charles Davis said Mack "plays with a violent edge to him," which is a good thing. "He will make somebody very happy very quickly," Davis said, in reference to Mack's potential as a rookie. Mack measured at 6-3 and 261 pounds and had a 40.5-inch vertical jump and ran a 4.65 40, which was tied for fourth-fastest among the linebackers.
6. Hageman can be a 3-4 DE
While Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman mostly played defensive tackle for the Gophers, who run a 4-3 set, he occasionally saw time at end, and Mayock thinks he could be an end in a 3-4 scheme in the NFL. Hageman ran a 5.02 in the 40, and Mayock said that was a "great time" for a 6-6, 310-pounder. "He's as athletic as can be," Mayock said. "The questions with him are about the inconsistency on tape." As an example, Mayock said, Hageman was great against Nebraska but basically invisible against Michigan. He has a chance to be a first-round pick.
7. Princeton DT has potential
Mayock likes Princeton defensive tackle Caraun Reid, saying, "He probably will be the highest-drafted Ivy Leaguer in years." In the past 10 drafts, no Ivy Leaguer has been taken before the fourth round, and Mayock said Reid could go in the third or fourth round. Mayock said Reid has good explosion in the middle. "Forget the Ivy League thing -- this kid's got a chance to be a good player," Mayock said.
8. Jeffcoat's athleticism a concern
Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat led the Big 12 with 13 sacks and was named the league's defensive player of the year. But he measured 6-foot-3 and 247 pounds at the combine weigh-in. At that size, Mayock said, he's too small for defensive end: "I don't think he can stand up and play outside linebacker," he said. Mayock also said Jeffcoat "needs to show more athletic ability than I saw on tape." Jeffcoat clocked a 4.63 in the 40 and had a 36-inch vertical jump.
9. Nix needs more consistency
Mayock serves as the color analyst on NBC's coverage of Notre Dame games during the season and thus has seen a lot of Irish nose tackle Louis Nix III. He has Nix -- who measured 6-2 and 331 pounds, about 20 fewer than his listed weight in 2013 at Notre Dame -- as his No. 1 defensive tackle and touts his "surprising short-area quickness." But Mayock said Nix needs to play with better leverage, and his concern is that Nix sometimes "plays too high." While he likes Nix a lot, Mayock said he "doesn't play with the same consistency" as Donald or Florida State tackle Timmy Jernigan. Sapp had some fun with Nix's nickname, "Irish Chocolate," after Nix clocked a 5.42 in the 40: "Irish Chocolate is molasses in the 40."
Some quick Mayock takes on other players:
» Shepherd (W.Va.) defensive end Howard Jones: "He's an ideal 3-4 outside linebacker. ... He's a heck of an athlete." Jones measured 6-2 and 235 pounds and ran a 4.60 40, third-fastest among defensive ends.
» Florida State linebacker Telvin Smith: "He's 6-3 and 218, and he flies. ... He runs like a defensive back." He ran a 4.52 40-yard dash, second-fastest among linebackers; Boston College's Kevin Pierre-Louis ran 4.51. Mayock said Smith is a "natural" 4-3 weakside linebacker who should go in the second or third round.
» North Carolina defensive end Kareem Martin: "He can get skinny. He can get through small areas and make plays." Martin (6-6, 272) ran a 4.72 40 and had a 35 1/2-inch vertical jump.
» Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley: "This is a top-10 kind of player." Mosley is Mayock's No. 2 linebacker, behind Mack but one spot ahead of Barr.