Knowing who is going where before the upcoming 2015 NFL Draft is a bit like predicting the weather. You might think the winds of hope might blow toward your guy in the first round, but then the winds of change blow through and carry your dude to the later rounds.
And so if you’re trying to predict this mess, you’ve got quite a job to do–not an easy one, either. For NFL Draft expert and TV analyst Mike Mayock, the job is one he accepts with relish. On Thurs. April 23 he jumped on a conference call to discuss the draft prospects of Utah Utes players going leading up to the big day next week in the windy city of Chicago.
First up was Eric Rowe, who Mayock said was hard to know whether “you call him a corner or a safety.” What Mayock does know is that Rowe is going somewhere early in the draft after a scintillating NFL Combine and solid Pro Day–it’s just that teams are mixed on where and when.
“About half the league thinks he’s a third round pick,” added Mayock, but he took the conversation a step further with Rowe as he continued talking semantics about the Ute–which Ute Nation will appreciate.
“The way I look at Eric Rowe in today’s pass first league is I don’t care if you call him a corner or a safety. If he can do one job and do it well, matching up with a Kelvin Benjamin one week oustide and a Rob Gronkowski next week on the inside. If he can do that one job, he’s got a completely different value, which for me would be somewhere late first round.”
Of course like any former coach, Mayock was quick to add he’s “not convinced” Rowe can be that versatile in the NFL. But, Mayock added that “I feel very strongly he’s a second round corner, he’s got length, he can play safety which he played before. There’s no way he gets out of the second round and if he went early in that second round, it wouldn’t surprise me at all.”
Most NFL Draft prognosticators–long word, that–have Rowe going in the middle to late second round. And so Mayock’s take on Rowe is not that surprising, and frankly, it’s refreshing to know that in this go-round, a Ute player might be taken in the Top 50.
That might also be the case for defensive end Nate Orchard, whose huge senior season rocketed him up the wish list for most NFL teams–even those who covet him as a linebacker at the next level. Either way, said Mayock, the kid can play and despite a lack of blazing speed, he’s got the goods.
“So, even though he’s not twitchy and didn’t run great times,” added Mayock, “I think he innately understands how to rush a quarterback, how to set up an offensive tackle and I think he’s got naturally heavy hands.”
The heavy mitts are what Mayock thinks separates Orchard from other players at his position. Mayock was very specific in his remarks about where the Ute standout, Ted Hendricks Award–honoring the nation’s best defensive end–and second team All-American might end up.
“That’s the thing I’ve heard from offensive linemen around the country, this guy just grabs you and shakes you to your core,” added Mayock. “I think he’s going in the second round, I really like the kid and I think he’s a good fit for a 3-4 team.”
The final Ute with a shot at getting drafted in Chicago is probably the most controversial, simply because he probably came out of college a bit too early. Jeremiah Poutasi–or C.J. as some know of him–is a beast at offensive tackle.
Poutasi’s combine grades were good enough to probably get him drafted next week, too. He graded out at 5.3–numbers better than all but three Utah players eligible for the draft.
Even with Poutasi’s early entry, most don’t see him going the way of the Utes’ last early entry draft debacle–or tight end Jake Murphy, son of baseball legend Dale. Count Mayock among those who believe there is a place for Poutasi at this NFL table, likely in the fourth or fifth round.
“He’s 20-years-old and his best football is in front of him,” added Mayock, who sees the Ute playing right tackle at the next level. “But he has to go to a team that’s a gap scheme, run mauler-type team.”
Mayock didn’t talk about wide receiver Dres Anderson, the son of NFL great Flipper Anderson who also received from NFL scouts the same 5.3 grade as Poutasi and appears to be headed for a late-round pickup–if he’s drafted at all. For the three Utah players Mayock did rank though, it appears you will be hearing their names come Draft Day.