For some time now, prognosticators across the board seem to agree that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck will be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
One of the top draft analysts around, Mike Mayock of the NFL Network, only gave more credence to that thought while conducting a pre-Scouting Combine conference call on Wednesday.
With the best collegiate players heading to Indianapolis next week to participate in the annual event, Mayock gave his pre-combine assessments on many of the top draft hopefuls including Luck, the former quarterback of 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh.
“I don’t know if he’s going to throw the ball at the combine,” Mayock warned about the Heisman Trophy runner up of the past two seasons. “We’ll see a decently athletic kid, who’ll probably run in the 4.7-range.”
Mayock made it clear where Luck can even further differentiate himself to the Indianapolis Colts who hold the first overall pick. Luck can do it in the individual meetings with various team personnel behind closed doors.
“He’s going to win the battle in the board room,” Mayock said.
Besides the get-to-know-you interviews that take place in Indianapolis, Mayock places a high value on running the 40-yard dash. Not every player is advised to run at the combine, but Mayock said he’d run the 40 if he was a draft hopeful.
“I think guys are crazy not to,” the analyst said.
In particular, Mayock sees the wide receivers using their 40 times to standout in a group that he sees four, clear-cut first-round talents.
Mayock listed Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon, Baylor’s Kendall Wright, Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd and LSU’s Rueben Randall as his top pass-catchers. Right behind the group, Mayock has South Carolina receiver Alson Jeffrey and Rutgers wideout Mohamed Sanu as players to consider in the second round.
Asked about which receiver would make sense to the 49ers at their No. 30 overall selection in the first round, Mayock said he liked Randall with San Francisco.
“He’s a guy who could fit for the 49ers,” said Mayock, who also thinks Randall will be taken in the 20-30 range in the first round.
Randall, however, can go even higher if he runs a low 40 while standing 6-foot-4, 209 pounds which he was listed during the regular season.
Other highlights from Mayock’s conference call:
-The defensive tackle group is really deep this year, while the defensive end class is not as talented.
-Mayock has question marks after his top four receivers and feels the same way about the cornerback class after the three corners he deemed worthy of first-round status.
-Interior linemen represent another strength of the class according to Mayock. “In the first three rounds you can get a lot of quality at center and at guard.”
-After Luck, Mayock sees the St. Louis Rams deciding between Blackmon and USC left tackle Matt Kalil with the No. 2 overall selection.
-On Kalil, Mayock said the USC product is “a wonderfully gifted left tackle.” Mayock said Kalil tends to get bull-rushed at times, but will do fine in pass protection as he adds size to his frame.
-On Blackmon, Mayock doesn’t expect the big-body receiver to run a low 40. Mayock, however, expects the Oklahoma State standout to turn heads with his body control and exceptional hands.
-On Jeffrey and Sanu, Mayock sees both receivers being in a similar category. Both wideouts will need to run low 40 times to show scouts they can beat press-man coverage. Mayock said he wants to like Sanu, but doesn’t see him being “sudden” in his movements. The lack of explosion is all the difference in making perimeter plays according to Mayock.
-Mayock doesn’t have a tight end with a first-round grade. He compared many of the top talents to Aaron Hernandez of the New England Patriots, a pass-catching tight end who lined up mostly as a slot receiver. Mayock doesn’t see a lot of in-line blocking from this year’s top tight ends.
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