The Washington Redskins' gamble on Robert Griffin III three years ago, trading three first-round picks and a second-round pick to move up just four spots to acquire what it hoped would be a franchise quarterback, has apparently left some other clubs around the NFL a bit nervous about making a similarly bold move to the top of the NFL draft for a quarterback.
NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock took questions for nearly three hours Monday on a media teleconference and referenced what could be a softer market for a team to make a move for either of the 2015 draft's top two quarterbacks -- Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota -- in a trade-up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Tennessee Titans, who hold the top two picks.
"Washington went and got the guy they thought could help them win a Super Bowl," Mayock said. "Because of what's happened with that kid, both with injuries and the way he's played, I think a lot of teams are very nervous about the perception of mortgaging your future."
The most heavily speculated trade-up involves the Philadelphia Eagles making a move to get Mariota, who played for coach Chip Kelly at Oregon and is more of an immediate fit for Kelly's offense than any other club in the league. Mayock doesn't see it.
"I'm not sure either of these two guys, you can mortgage your future on," Mayock said. "Unless you completely understand the kid and buy into the kid 100 percent and you're willing to move up. I don't know if Chip Kelly can go from No. 20 to wherever -- that's a long way to move. ... I don't see the market that we had for RGIII."
- While Winston and Mariota are creating plenty of buzz as the draft's expected first-round investments at the quarterback position, Mayock doesn't see the quarterback class as a whole as a particularly deep one. UCLA's Brett Hundley and Baylor's Bryce Petty could be the next-best options at the position, but Hundley's pocket awareness and Petty's lack of experience in a pro-style offense are two primary concerns. Mayock highlighted another: "Both those guys are indecisive if their first read isn't there."
- USC's Leonard Williams, the draft's most highly regarded defensive lineman, brings a level of versatility that Mayock said makes him a highly coveted prospect who can play multiple positions and stay on the field for all three downs at the NFL level. His comparison for Williams? Former New England Patriots star Richard Seymour. Here are three more NFL-to-prospect comparisons Mayock delivered Monday:
- Two areas of depth in the draft are wide receiver and running back, but they aren't the only two. "I see eight defensive tackles who are high-level players," Mayock said. He named, in order, USC's Leonard Williams, Washington's Danny Shelton, Texas' Malcom Brown, Oregon's Arik Armstead, Oklahoma's Jordan Phillips, Florida State's Eddie Goldman, Iowa's Carl Davis and Ohio State's Michael Bennett.
- As for the depth at running back, Mayock counts eight prospects with a third-round grade or better, including two -- Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon and Georgia's Todd Gurley -- who could go in Round 1.
- Michigan's Devin Funchess played one season at wide receiver after beginning his career at tight end, but could show better at the combine this week than Kelvin Benjamin, the Carolina Panthers' first-round pick last year of similar size. Mayock said he expects Funchess to run a better 40-yard dash than Benjamin's 4.61 at last year's combine, and said Funchess shows better movement skills as well. Nevertheless, that's not likely to translate into Funchess being drafted higher than where Benjamin was taken: No. 28 overall.
- Vic Beasley was a star defensive end at Clemson and is known for his pass-rush production. But he will have to make the move to outside linebacker in the NFL, and Mayock said Beasley's weigh-in at the combine will be closely monitored. "The concern around the league is whether he is underpowered," Mayock said. Concern is especially high about Beasley's ability to take on blocks and hold his own against a power rushing attack.
- Like Beasley, Mayock cited size concerns on Missouri defensive end Shane Ray as well. "The most impressive thing about him is his first first step. ... He is so quick at the snap," Mayock said. Ray (245 pounds) registered 14.5 sacks as a junior.
- Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper has the "highest floor" of the top three receivers in the draft, along with West Virginia's Kevin White and Louisville's DeVante Parker, according to Mayock. What is meant by highest floor is the safest pick -- the player who is most certain to meet measured expectations, if not the highest ones. Expect all three to be gone within the top 20 picks of the draft.
- Mayock said off-field issues for Michigan defensive end Frank Clark, who was dismissed from the team in November after a domestic-violence arrest, are big: "I think it's going to affect Frank Clark to the point that he doesn't get drafted."
- The biggest concern about Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah, who shredded Big Ten defenses for over 1,600 yards last season, is ball security. Mayock cited 24 fumbles on Abdullah's resume, 17 of them lost to turnovers.
- Mayock's projection on Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates, a freakish athlete whose natural receiving skills still need some refinement: second round. Mayock also sees Coates as one of the draft's top deep-threat receivers.