Saturday, December 27, 2014

Mayock's Look At The Draft: TEs, RBs

For the 12th straight year, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock will break down each of the positions in the draft for the Daily News. Today he talks tight ends and running backs.

Mayock's Look At The Draft: TEs, RBs

Travis Kelce scores a touchdown on an 18-yard pass reception in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Miami (Ohio), Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, in Oxford, Ohio. Cincinnati won 27-0. (Al Behrman/AP file)
Travis Kelce scores a touchdown on an 18-yard pass reception in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Miami (Ohio), Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, in Oxford, Ohio. Cincinnati won 27-0. (Al Behrman/AP file)

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 tight ends and running backs:

TIGHT ENDS

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THE BEST

Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame (6-6, 250)

40-time: 4.65

225 bench: 22 reps

Round Projection: 1

Mayock: "He fits today's NFL. He's got the length at 6-6. He's got the size at 250-plus. He's got the speed to get vertical. Has great hands. And he's a matchup nightmare.

"Notre Dame did a great job of moving him around, so it's easy to see on tape. You can see him inline. You can see him in the slot. You can see him out wide. The more you move him the more valuable he becomes. He improved his blocking last year. He's a true first-round tight end.

"He's a point-of-attack guy in your pass game. Your pass offense can go through Tyler Eifert. And he's a good enough blocker, especially if you move him. Let him get on a linebacker or safety. You don't really want him inline too often trying to block a three-technique (tackle). You hope you have that guy already on your roster."

THE RISER

Travis Kelce, Cincinnati (6-5, 255)

40-time: 4.62

225 bench: NA

Round Projection: 2

Mayock: "He's going to end up going in the second round. There were some questions about him off the field and some durability issues. But I think he's addressed a lot of that. Most people have bought into him. The tape is pretty darn good. This kid can go deep. He catches the football. He's really athletic. And he'll also compete in the blocking.

"He helped himself this year as much as any prospect in the country as far as coming from off the radar to become a top 75 pick."

THE SLEEPER

D.C. Jefferson, Rutgers (6-6, 255)

40-time: 4.99

225 bench: NA

Round Projection: FA

Mayock: "He's got a great frame. It looks to me like he can still put 20-30 pounds on his frame. He's a former quarterback that got to tight end late.

"I saw him at the East-West game. He competed in the run game even though he didn't really know what he was doing and was a little light in the butt.

"He needs to develop his lower body. But he was athletic as a former quarterback and competed as a blocker. I look at him as a raw developmental guy that, 2-3 years from now, could be a big, competitive tight end. He's going to have to make his living early just competing as a blocker. But I think there's some developmental upside to the kid."

THE RUNNING BACKS

THE BEST

Eddie Lacy, Alabama (5-11, 231)

40-time: 4.53

225 bench: NA

Round Projection: 1

Mayock: "I see a 230-pound tailback that can carry the ball 20 times a game. He catches the ball fairly well. He understands protection. He's going to go somewhere between 20 and 32.

"He's got tremendous power. Finishes runs. Has great balance and vision. He's only a one-year starter and doesn't have that great burst to get around the corner. But he's going to be a productive back in this league."

THE RISER

Christine Michael, Texas A&M (5-10, 220)

40-time: 4.43

225 bench: 27 reps

Round Projection: 2

Mayock: "Michael is as gifted as any tailback in his class. He's has some off-the-field issues, but has rehabbed his image since the East-West game.

"His talent is crazy. He got in (A&M coach) Kevin Sumlin's doghouse last year and didn't carry the ball a lot as a senior. But I have trouble seeing him getting out of the second round just because his physical traits are so good."

THE SLEEPER

Knile Davis, Arkansas (6-0, 227)

40-time: 4.35

225-bench: 31 reps

Round Projection: 3-4

Mayock: "A big back that ran extremely well. He had some injury and durability issues in college. He was under the radar because of all of the stuff that happened with the Arkansas program.

"But from a height, weight, speed, athletic perspective, he's impressive. He had a big year in 2010 and didn't match that in '11 or '12. But you know the talent is there. With that kind of snapshot physically, he could go in the third round."

Paul Domowitch Daily News NFL Columnist
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