NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock completed a marathon session of two hours and 45 minutes on Monday during his annual pre-scouting combine conference call with various media members from around the country. As impressive as his stamina was, Mayock also dished out quite a bit of information regarding the upcoming 2015 NFL Draft and the players who will go from No. 1 overall to undrafted.
Here's a wrap-up of some of the projections Mayock discussed for the upcoming draft, and what teams various prospects might be a good fit for.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Naturally, there's a ton of interest in whom the team takes No. 1 overall, and Mayock is on board with most prognosticators in seeing Florida State quarterback Jameis Winstonbeing the selection even if there are a number of red flags surrounding him. "My concern is on the field, he throws too many interceptions. However, I can see everything on the field beyond that," said Mayock. "Can he be the face of the franchise? He was the face of the Florida State franchise, and that didn't stop him from making questionable decisions." At the top of the second round, Mayock sees the team looking at a possible upgrade at linebacker with players such as Benardrick McKinney, Paul Dawson, Denzel Perryman or Eric Kendricks being fits.
Ideally, the team with the No. 3 overall pick would trade down with somebody who wants a quarterback, provided either Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota are still on the board. If Gus Bradley's squad stays put, though, Mayock sees them going with an edge rusher such as Dante Fowler Jr., Randy Gregory or Shane Ray.
It's pretty simple in Mayock's mind for the Raiders: Evaluate all the top options at wide receiver, and draft the one you grade the highest to get Derek Carr some help. That means Oakland will grab one of these three: Kevin White, Amari Cooper and DeVante Parker. Mayock says Cooper is the safest pick of the trio and has the highest floor as a Torry Holt-type of receiver.
Mayock didn't mention many specific players the team needs to go after with the fifth overall pick, but he identified offensive line, cornerback and edge rusher among the positions they have to address early in the draft.
New York Jets
There was some praise regarding Geno Smith from Mayock, but he noted that it might not be enough to keep him as the Jets' starter, and the opportunity to grab a guy like Mariota could be attractive for a team looking to wipe the slate clean from the previous regime. In short, Mayock suggests that if a signal-caller they love is there at No. 6, they've got to pick him. If there's not one, he said, "You'd better just get yourself a good football player." Corners Trae Waynes and Marcus Peters might be options, as well as an edge guy such as Dante Fowler, Jr.
There's a new coaching staff in Atlanta, and Mayock is one of many who believe that will result in the team going defense with its first-round pick. Dante Fowler Jr. would be the guy if he's still around at No. 8, but Mayock noted Shane Ray, Vic Beasley and Randy Gregory are all intriguing but that each has his pluses and minuses. A bigger back in the third or fourth round also makes a lot of sense for the franchise.
Obviously, there's a lot unsettled regarding Adrian Peterson and whether he'll return to the club, so Mayock believes the Vikings might have to look for a full-time running back if, indeed, there is going to be a split with Peterson. Mayock sees the team going after a top corner at No. 11 and then waiting for a tailback in the second round with guys like Boise State's Jay Ajayi or Indiana's Tevin Coleman. Brandon Scherff also could be an option in the first round if the Vikings want to boost their offensive line.
While Mayock said he believes Johnny Manziel can still come back from his troubles to be the team's quarterback and have a career in the NFL, he also discussed his draft evaluation of Manziel last year, acknowledging that he overlooked some factors. Because of that, Mayock said he thinks it is risky trying to move up to get a QB like Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston if they start to drop. (The Browns own a pair of first-round picks -- Nos. 12 and 19.) At No. 19 in the first round, Mayock believes the Browns could get a defensive tackle like Texas' Malcom Brown or Oklahoma's Jordan Phillips or somebody like Oregon's Arik Armstead.
Wide receiver is a concern with the team, according to Mayock, depending on how free agency and the salary-cap situation goes. The Dolphins need a corner and an edge guy; they can get a CB in the first round and then come back around to get the rusher or a wideout.
San Francisco 49ers
Count Mayock among those who don't see much change in how the team will operate or draft even with a new coaching staff. Offensive line, cornerback and wide receivers are some areas he sees them addressing early on in the draft.
Kansas City Chiefs
When talking about the Chiefs, Mayock is like a lot of analysts who see the team going after a wide receiver at No. 18 overall. The question is who might be around for them to grab. Kevin White and Amari Cooper are probably gone by then. Dorial Green-Beckham and Devin Funchess could be options for Andy Reid and company in the first round, but Mayock remarked they would "sprint to the podium" if DeVante Parker is still on the board. T.J. Clemmings, Andrus Peat and La'el Collins might be options along the offensive line, and the Chiefs could target a linebacker such as Denzel Perryman, Eric Kendricks, Paul Dawson or Benardrick McKinney in the second round.
What will Chip Kelly do? Mayock thinks the team will go defense with either Landon Collins or Shaq Thompson (at safety) being options for them at No. 20. LSU's Jalen Collins is intriguing as a press corner who's not afraid to play man, and Mayock believes they'll do their homework on Marcus Peters, too. They'll be best getting an ILB in the second or third round, and Mayock even could see Eric Kendricks reunite with his brother, Mychal Kendricks, in Philly.
Mayock fielded a ton of questions about which way the Lions might go at No. 23 in the first round. He said he thinks one of the eight top-tier defensive tackles will be the way to go for the franchise, with Iowa's Carl Davis being one of many options. As far as addressing the offensive line in the second round, Mayock gushed about Laken Tomlinson: "Big square, tough guy that is smart as can be. He really helped himself at the Senior Bowl." South Carolina's A.J. Cann, John Miller from Louisville and Cam Irving out of Florida State are also interior options for the team. If Detroit makes Reggie Bush a salary-cap casualty, Mayock said he could see them going with either Ameer Abdullah or Duke Johnson in the second round.
There are a lot of ways the Panthers can go at No. 25, and Mayock believes Shaq Thompson or Landon Collins could be options if they're around to fill a need at safety. Jordan Phillips and Arik Armstead might be worth a look if the Panthers decide to address the defensive line. Finally, Mayock sees them grabbing a speedy wideout such as Devin Smith or Philip Dorsett later, as well.
Mayock lofted some high praise toward the franchise for its ability to evaluate and noted that receiver, cornerback and edge rusher make sense for the Ravens in the first round. However, Mayock said they're going to pick the best available player no matter what. Florida State corner/safety P.J. Williams might be an option, and Mayock even sees them picking Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who could be a steal in the second round or later. Miami (OH)'s Quinten Rollins or Utah's Eric Rowe could be second or third round choices as well. If they opt to find a tailback, Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley are both first-round backs that might be around at No. 26. If they do want to address the tight end position, Minnesota's Maxx Williams is the only guy who could be a late first-rounder but is more likely a second-rounder.
How 'bout the Cowboys' draft? Well, Mayock sees some potential for Vic Beasley or Bud Dupree being around at No. 27, with Dupree being a particularly interesting option -- he weighs 30 pounds more than most defensive ends and could be a better complement to Demarcus Lawrence. As far as potential DeMarco Murray replacements, Northern Iowa's David Johnson in the third or fourth round, or even Alabama's T.J. Yeldon late in the second round, could be options. Mayock also brought up Minnesota's David Cobb as a tough, downhill back that could fit, in addition to Auburn's Cameron Artis-Payne.
Mayock talked about Peyton Manning at length when asked about the team and thinks he can still get it done at the quarterback position. Draft-wise, though, the analyst thinks La'el Collins is the best right tackle prospect in the draft but isn't sure he'll be around to perfectly fit the Broncos' needs when they pick at No. 28 overall. That means Andrus Peat could be the pick, or they can wait until the second round to get someone like Oregon's Jake Fisher, Wisconsin's Rob Havenstein or Penn State's Donovan Smith.
Are they looking for a Trent Richardson replacement? If the Colts do decide to go that way, Mayock sees the kid from up the road at Indiana, Tevin Coleman, being an option in the second round. The tailback has speed, toughness, aggressiveness and could be the big home-run hitter that makes sense there.
Mayock had high praise for how Seattle has drafted under GM John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll and thinks the Seahawks could trade back (again) and still be able to land their guy in the early second round. Tailback Todd Gurley could be the Marshawn Lynch replacement (or complement), but he could be gone by the time they pick at No. 31. If they have a guy they like at any position, they might stay where they are and pick him at the end of the first round.
Mayock doesn't see the team opting to get a quarterback with its first pick of the 2015 NFL Draft because the most likely candidates -- Bryce Petty or Brett Hundley -- might take time to develop, and the team already has a project on the roster in E.J. Manuel, who has as much talent as either of them. Jay Ajayi, Ameer Abdullah, Duke Johnson and Tevin Coleman could be options at running back if that's the direction Rex Ryan and company opt to go.