We're just three days away from April 28 and the start of the 2016 NFL Draft, and the lead draft analyst of the NFL Network, Mike Mayock, met the media a few days ago to discuss the prospects, team needs and how he sees the draft falling.
Mayock touched on a number of prospects the that Chicago Bears have been linked to and he was asked specifically about which defensive end, besides DeForest Buckner, the Bears should be targeting at 11th overall. "Depends how you want to play your defense. If you want to sit there and two gap and not be a penetrating up the field team, then Jarran Reed and A'Shawn Robinson are your guys." The Chicago Bears, under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, do both 2 gap and 1 gap stuff. Mayock continued, "Depending on what you do with your sub-package, and remember the NFL is in a sub-package now 60 to 70 percent of the game. So there is a premium on defensive tackles that can also rush the quarterback."
He was asked if Louisville's Sheldon Rankins is in the discussion at 11. "So if you want Sheldon Rankins on first down to lineup across from a tackle and two-gap, that's asking a lot of him." Rankins checked in at 6'1", 299 pounds at the NFL Combine, and some scouts feel his best fit as as a 4-3 three-technique defensive tackle. "However, if you're a 3-4 defense that's slanting and moving and doing some different things and then goes with the four-down look on passing downs and the sub-package, and you kick them into defensive tackle, now you're talking. Now you've got a guy that is doing exactly what you're looking for, getting up the field, and causing a problem in the pass game."
The Bears do have a base 3-4 defense, but like Mayock says, teams spend so much time in nickle and dime these days that finding a player than can rush the passer from the interior is a must.
"Vernon Butler and Jihad Ward," a couple of possible 2nd rounders, "both of whom can play five technique on base and
kick inside on the sub-package."
The Bears have a lot of options at 11, and plenty of needs they could try and fill with their nine picks.
If the Bears don't go with an offensive tackle in the 1st, here's what Mayock said about some guys that could go in the 3rd round.
Yeah, I think third round value, a guy that's rising right now, especially with coaches around the league, I can't even pronounce his first name (Halapoulivaati), but his last name is Vaitai, Big "V" they call him from TCU. He's going to go in the third or fourth round, can play both sides, and the offensive line coaches around the league love him.
I think Shon Coleman from Auburn could be there probably gone. Jerald Hawkins from LSU, more of a left tackle, narrow base guy, not as powerful as you'd like for a right tackle. Then some guys that I have in the fourth round but might go in the third round, Caleb Benenoch from UCLA. A guy on the rise, Alex Lewis from Nebraska. He could very well be a third-round tackle, and I think they're probably the logical conversation.
And here's a couple offensive tackles that could be in play for the Bears in the 2nd round.
I think the conversation starts with Jason Spriggs who could even go late one, but I've got him in two. Le'Raven Clarke from Texas Tech who has the wing span of a Teradactyl, that is seven offensive tackles, and that's about average for the first two rounds of the NFL Draft, and I think they're the right guys.
Michigan State's Jack Conklin, a possibility for Chicago at 11, reminds Mayock of current Bears right guard Kyle Long.
Jack Conklin is one of my favorite guys in the draft. He was a walk-on at Michigan State, as you know. Got a little edge to his game. I'll tell you who he reminds me of from a body type and demeanor, he reminds me of Kyle Long, and that's a compliment.
Now I don't think he's got Kyle's feet, but very few people do. So I think Conklin is a guy that's gotten bigger and stronger and he's got a work ethic. He's a blue-collar guy that I think fits in on the right side day one as a starter. He's a good run game guy that can develop into a good pass protection. I think down the road I think he could be a starting left tackle.
If the Bears didn't sign Bobby Massie to play right tackle, I could see the Bears targeting Conklin at 11, but with Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace being a best player available drafter, he may still call Conklin's name in the 1st.
Mayock gave his thoughts on Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson has been mocked to the Bears at 11 a few times during mock draft season.
Shaq Lawson to me is an explosive kid, and that's what I like most about him. He's one of those tightly wound kids. You're talking about 6'2.5", about 270 pounds. He ran 4.7, but more importantly, he can stack. He's physical against the run, and he can get up field against the pass. He can handle long left tackles. And that's kind of the knock on him, is he long enough to be a high-level pass-rusher in the NFL.
I think he's one of those guys kind of like a Brian Orakpo, for instance, potentially best case scenario, Tamba Hali. That kind of height, width, speed ratio. He's just got to get a little bit more sophisticated. He's got to learn his craft a little bit more, and if he's a true professional, I think he's got a chance to be a high-level pass-rusher in the NFL.
If the Bears end up with Lawson, they'll probably ask him to line up at outside linebacker. Lawson's teammate at Clemcon, defensive end Kevin Dodd, has also been mocked to the Bears a few times, and Mayock had some thoughts on him as well.
Now as far as those two Clemson kids, I'm more on the Shaq Lawson side, and there are different types of ends. Lawson could play in the 3-4. As a matter of fact, he fits the 3-4, even though he could play in a 4-3. Dodd is more of a traditional left defensive end that lines up in the same spot every snap and plays against the right offensive tackle. He's longer, not as explosive. One-year wonder, and I don't mean that negatively. He had one great year, but from my perspective if I had to bet on the kid, I would bet on the Lawson kid. The guy that is similar to Dodd that you can get later in the draft is Carl Nassib from Penn State, 6'7", 275, one-year wonder also. But I think he's got similar upside, and I think you can get him later.
A player that seems to be moving up the mock boards a lot is Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd. Lately he's been mocked to the Bears at 11.
You know what, Leonard Floyd is one of my most conflicted players. There's a big part of me that wants to say he's a top-10 talent, and there's another part of me that when I look back at my notes, and I've done at least six of his games, and all over the place I have the word "underpowered." Not just at the point of attack, but when he gets stuck in the pass game, also, rushing the quarterback. If he doesn't win with speed -- and I'm talking about both outside speed, and he's got a great up-and-under move. If he doesn't win with speed, he gets stuck. That worries me. However, he showed up at the combine bigger and heavier than all of us expected, and when you watch him play, they've got him at off the line, linebacker, off the edge, they've got him covering slots.
His athletic ability is amazing, and his burst off the edge is rare. So at the end of the day, in a pass-first league, teams are going to lean towards what he can do as opposed to what he can't do, and what he can do is get off the line, come off the edge, and for a 4-3 team, I think he's a linebacker on 1st down off the line of scrimmage, and when you go to your sub-package, which again is 60 to 70 percent of your snaps, he's going to be a hand-in-the-dirt defensive end. I think the 3-4 teams look at him as a 3-4 outside linebacker simply, but at the end of the day, could he be a top-10 pick? I think he could surprise people and fit in the top 10 somewhere, yes.
You can read the full transcript here.
What are your thoughts on some of what Mayock had to say?