For the 12th straight year, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock will break down each of the positions in the draft for the Daily News, providing his assessment of the best player at each position, as well as his top riser and sleeper. Mayock, 54, resides in Newtown Square and is a graduate of the Haverford School. He was a tenth-round pick of the Steelers in 1981 and played two seasons with the Giants (1982-83). I’ll run his assessments in the days leading up to the April 25 draft. Today: the wide receivers.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee (6-2, 216)
Vertical Jump: 37 inches
Broad Jump: 10-8
Round Projection: 1
Mayock: "He’s a boom-or-bust guy. You couldn’t draw up a better looking wideout than him. Height, weight, speed. He’s really special with the ball in his hands. Return game, reverses, bubble screens. It’s all about finding ways to get the football in his hands because he’s so darn special when he has it. And that’s what this league is about now. It’s a matchup league and this kid is a matchup nightmare.
"That’s the positives. On the downside, (he’s got) two years of JC (junior college) and only one year of Division I production. Questions about maturity and work ethic, which sounds like most high-level wideouts. But that’s who this kid is. That’s why he’s a boom-or-bust guy. He’s got so much talent. He’ll go somewhere between 11 and 20."
Tavon Austin, West Virginia (5-9, 174)
Vertical Jump: 32 inches
Broad Jump: 10-0
Round Projection: 1
Mayock: "Austin and Patterson obviously are two very different (physical) snapshots. The problem with Austin is teams have been trying to figure out who he reminds them of in the NFL. The easy one is Percy Harvin, but Harvin is 25 pounds heavier than Austin.
"So who is he? Is he Darren Sproules? No. Is he (Dexter) McCluster, a second-round pick who’s disappointed? He’s a much better natural receiver than McCluster, who spent most of his time at tailback.
"Whoever drafts this kid, they better have a plan for him. You can’t just be, OK, we’re going to line him up in the slot and see what happens. It’s got to be, he’s a punt returner or he isn’t. He’s a kickoff returner or he isn’t. We’re going to line him up at slot. We’re going to move him. We’re going to motion him to tailback and pitch it to him. You have to find a way to get this kid 10 to 15 touches a game. Plus, you can’t overwork him or expose him to injury. It’s a fine line."
Zach Rogers, Tennessee (6-0, 179)
Vertical Jump: NA
Broad Jump: NA
Round Projection: 4-5
Mayock: "The kid had a great Pro Day. Everybody was looking at Patterson and (Justin) Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers (of Tennessee Tech). Zach is a slot guy who ran a 4.45. He catches everything. He runs good routes. Prior to his Pro Day, I would’ve thought he’d be a sixth- or seventh-rounder. But he may have moved up into that fourth- or fifth-round range simply because he’s faster than people thought."