Monday, January 26, 2015

Mayock draft analysis: running backs, wideouts, tight ends

Every year since he became the NFL Network’s draft analyst, Mike Mayock has sat down with the Daily News before the draft and broken down each position into 3 categories: the best, the riser and the sleeper. Yesterday, he looked at the quarterbacks. Today, he analyzes running back, wide receiver and tight end.

Mayock draft analysis: running backs, wideouts, tight ends

Alabama´s Mark Ingram is the most accomplished running back in this year´s class. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Alabama's Mark Ingram is the most accomplished running back in this year's class. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Every year since he became the NFL Network’s draft analyst, Mike Mayock has sat down with the Daily News before the draft and broken down each position into 3 categories: the best, the riser and the sleeper. Yesterday, he looked at the quarterbacks. Today, he analyzes running back, wide receiver and tight end.

RUNNING BACK

The Best

Mark Ingram

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5-9 ¼, 215

40-time: 4.62

Alabama

Mayock: ``Ingram’s a warrior with just an incredibly aggressive running style, and he will block. He can be a true three-down back if there is such a thing in today’s NFL.’’

Round projection: 1

 

The Riser

Ryan Williams

5-9 ½, 212

40-time: 4.59

Virginia Tech

Mayock: ``He’s my No. 2-rated running back behind Ingram. His main issue is durability. When healthy, you’re talking about a 212-pound back with tremendous lateral cutting ability and explosion, who’s big enough and strong enough to lower his pad level and push the pile. I think he’s a guy who’s moving up the boards and won’t get out of the second round.’’

Round projection: 2

 

The Sleeper

Taiwan Jones

5-11 ½, 194

40-time: 4.33

Eastern Washington

Mayock: ``He might be the fastest running back in the country. He hurt his ankle late in the year and didn’t play against Villanova in the (1-AA) playoffs, and wasn’t able to run for teams until last week. But he had a terrific workout. Ran a 4.33 and had a 39 ½ -inch vertical jump. He can return kickoffs. Every time you put the tape on, he’s making somebody miss and going to the house. He had kind of been off the radar, but with his workout last week, he’s gone from an afterthought to a second- or third-round pick.’’

Round projection: 3

WIDE RECEIVER

The Best

A.J. Green

6-3 ½, 211

40-time: 4.48

Georgia

Mayock: ``He’s a top 10 pick. He has tremendous throwing radius because of his lengths (speed and leaping ability). What’s really impressive about him is just his footwork in and out of his breaks for a 6-3 receiver. Really, really impressive.’’

Round projection: 1

 

The Riser

Edmund Gates

6-1, 192

40-time: 4.31

Abilene Christian

Mayock: ``When you get a vertical success like Mike Wallace in Pittsburgh, everybody starts looking for that (kind of) guy. A guy who can take the top off a zone, who can make a big play. Gates is raw, but he can run. He can flat-out run. Somebody’s going to jump on him either late in the second round or early in the third. When you get a small-school kid who comes to the combine and runs that fast, all of a sudden, the spotlight gets shined and people are watching tape and trying to figure them out. But with his height, weight and speed, worst case, his floor is the third round.’’

Round projection; 2-3

 

The Sleeper

Cecil Shorts

6-0, 205

40-time: 4.55

Mt. Union (Ohio)

Mayock: ``I like him. He’s got a thick body. He only ran a 4.55, but he catches the ball well. He played everywhere in the tapes I watched. He played Wildcat in the (NCAA Division III) championship game. The kid’s an athlete. Catches the ball, throws the ball. Is he a little bit raw? Yeah. But he’s an athlete.’’

Round projection: 5

TIGHT END

The Best

Kyle Rudolph

6-6, 259

40-time: 4.70

Notre Dame

Mayock: ``The main issue with him is durability. He ran a 4.7 at his Pro Day, so there’s no way he’s getting out of the first round. But the durability issue is going to hurt him a little bit. People think he’s a finesse tight end who doesn’t run fast enough to be a finesse tight end. He’s the same size and weight as (the Patriots’ 2010 second-round pick) Rob Gronkowski. He’s not as good a blocker as Gronkowski, but I think the finesse label thing has more to do with the way Notre Dame used him in their offense. He was split out most of the time. He didn’t do a great job when he was an inline blocker, but I think he can if he wants to.’’

Round projection: 1

 

The Risers

Jordan Cameron

6-5 ¼, 254

40-time: 4.55

USC

and

Julius Thomas

6-4, ¾, 246

40-time: 4.65

Portland State

Mayock: ``Both are former basketball players. Thomas played four years at Portland followed by a fifth year of football, just like (the Saints’) Jimmy Graham. Cameron went to BYU to play basketball, transferred to USC, played a little basketball there, went to football as a wide receiver, then put some weight on and was moved to tight end his senior year. They’re both athletic. A little bit raw, but because of the success of basketball players (in the NFL) and especially Graham last year, they’re both getting a lot of attention. They’ve gone from complete afterthoughts to mid-round picks in a very bad tight end draft.’’

Round projection: 4

 

The Sleeper

Rob Housler

6-5 ½, 248

40-time: 4.49

Florida Atlantic

Mayock: ``This is a really athletic kid. He ran a 4.5 flat. He jumped 37 inches. He’s every bit as athletic as Cameron and Thomas, and has kind of opened some eyes. He’s raw, but catches the ball well. He’s an h-back guy. Another intriguing guy in a bad tight end class.’’

Round projection: 4-5

Paul Domowitch Daily News NFL Columnist
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