Press Release

Posted by Allie Stoneberg on April 3, 2012

Transcript of ESPN’s NFL Draft Conference Call with Todd McShay

PRINT VERSIONFILED IN: Football, NFL TAGGED: ,

Todd McShay discussed top prospects and the 2012 NFL Draft on a media conference call Friday. The transcript is as follows:

Q: I haven’t heard much about Lavonte David from Nebraska.  I’m just wondering how high do you think he’s going to go?  He seems like the perfect intangible kind of guy. 

TODD McSHAY:  He is.  I’ll be honest, I underrated him just based off of what I saw watching games during the season, during the fall, and just at his size and not thinking that he’d be able to take on blocks and get through traffic at the next level.  When I started watching tape of him I got excited about the little things he’s doing, his instincts.  He’s always around the ball. 

The more I watch, the more I really believe he’s going to be able to play at the next level and do it at a high level.  The reason I say that is I think he understands how to keep blockers off his body, when to take on blocks, when to slip.  He’s fast and athletic, don’t get me wrong.  He plays even faster and more athletic, if you will, than his numbers indicate.  I was really impressed.  I went from having a second, third round grade and maybe thinking possibly a sub‑package type player to after about six games of tape, really believing that he belonged in the top 40 picks. 

Right now, I’ll double check to make sure I give you the right number, but I know I have him in the top 32 players overall.  Just finished up new rankings.  I actually have him at number 30 as the number one true outside linebacker. 

He’s a great fit for weak side linebacker in a typical four‑three defense.  I think it wouldn’t shock me.  I’d put him with the Giants at 32, somewhere in that range between about 25 and 35 to 40 is probably where David will come off the board.

Q. We’ll get the Titans pick in at No. 20 in the first round.  Could you talk in general about this crop of defensive ends in this year’s draft, and maybe specifically whether there is likely to be an impactive defensive end available around 20 when they pick? 

TODD McSHAY:  Well, I think they will.  Obviously, when you finish 31st in sacks last year, you’ve got to find guys that can get to the quarterback, and there are.  When you start to look at it though, I still wonder if they’re definitely going to go defensive end in the first round.  I know it’s still an area they want to address. 

But when you look at what they’ve been able to do, bring in Cameron Wembley, you hope that Derrick Morgan can stay healthy and continue to play to the level that he should this next year, and maybe having a guy like Wembley opposite him. 

But if they do look to draft a corner or defensive end at 20, there is certainly depth there.  This class is loaded with defensive ends in the back half of the first round through the third round.  You’ve got some guys that can get after the quarterback. 

Andre Branch is one out of Clemson who is still developing, but had a big year this year, doubled his sack production from a year ago.  Ten and a half sacks this past year, not overly physical, but like I said, he can get to the quarterback.  He was quick off the ball.  He can bend the edge, very good body control, long arms, and I think his best football is still ahead of him. 

Same for Whitney Mercilus, the Illinois defensive end who had another guy who had best production by far for him was this past year.  He was relentless as a pass rusher, all over the place, flying around the field. 

I don’t think he’s an elite athlete, but he certainly has the combination of size at 6’3″ and a half, 261 pounds, and the burst you look for to get after the quarterback. 

Then you talk about the 16 sacks he had this past year, and nine forced fumbles.  To me, that is one of the underrated statistics.  I’m not a big stat guy, but I always look to see with these defensive ends, arm length, obviously sacks, and force fumbles. 

I think Sam Acho is a great example from a year ago.  Here’s a guy that I thought had average physical tools, but he’s constantly forcing fumbles and making big plays, and I think Whitney Mercilus has a chance to become an impact player at the next level. 

Couple other guys, Nick Perry from USC, good pass rusher.  I’d like to see more consistency out of him, but a very good athlete.  Probably in that late first, second round range.  Vinny Curry in the second round is underrated and has a chance to come in and become a good player, and consistent player and could help a team in a four‑three defense.

Q. The Jets have made it clear that they’re going back to running the ball this year, the latest evidence being the trade for Tebow.  Do you think that precludes them from taking a wide receiver with 16th pick?  And if they go pass rusher, could you give us an overview of the pass rusher that could be there for them at that spot? 

TODD McSHAY:  Yeah.  I don’t think it completely precludes them from going wide receiver.  I mean, if you’re going to run the football and be successful, you’ve got to have the threat of the pass.  If Michael Floyd was there, I think he would fit very well in terms of a compliment, and what, I believe, they need on this roster. 

You start to look at what they have.  Chaz Schilens opposite Santonio Holmes, and Jeremy Kerley, doesn’t strike a lot of fear.  I get it.  You’re in the lineup and run the football, but you’ve got to back defenses off, unless this becomes the Tebow show and they turn into the Denver Broncos from a year ago which is a whole other story.

I think there is a lot of depth in this class, but if Floyd falls to them, it would make it a difficult decision.  If not, second, third round, there are plenty of big, wide receivers that you can bring in that can help you stretch the field out.             Alshon Jeffery is an example of one.  You’ve got those guys that I don’t think you’re going to see.  I don’t think there is any chance that Stephen Hill from Georgia Tech is still available in the second. 

But Rueben Randall is 6’3″ and can get down the field.  A.J. Jenkins from Illinois, Mohamed Sanu from Rutgers who is not fast but big.  I think for pass rushers in that defense, I look at it and think Upshaw could fit as a three‑four outside linebacker.  I go back and forth.  He’s not a perfect fit anywhere, but I think he can get after the quarterback.  The Alabama defensive end, outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw worked out yesterday for scouts at Alabama.  He’s getting back into shape and has explosiveness.  But I think he’s probably the best fit of a guy that could be there.  I think Melvin Ingram could be off the board.  And if those two guys are gone at 16, I don’t know the value is there.  Then you start to reach for a guy like Andre Branch, and I don’t think at 16 you want to do that.

Q. We heard a few weeks ago from Mel Kiper that he thought Alabama could not only have five first round picks, he thought all five could be gone by the 24th pick with Pittsburgh taking the last of the five and Hightower.  I’m just curious, are you similarly optimistic that Alabama could make that big a splash in the first round? 

TODD McSHAY:  I think there’s a strong possibility.  When you start to look at it, Trent Richardson is not going to last long.  If not four to the Browns, five to the Buccaneers, and after that point the next five or six picks, the team would take him out of absolute value. 

Mark Barron, I haven’t heard any team I’ve talked to say they’re concerned about the hernia surgery.  I haven’t gotten a full report on him from yesterday, but he’s the best safety in this class, and I’d be shocked if he fell out of the first round somewhere in the middle to later first round range. 

Courtney Upshaw, I talked about, not an elite athlete, but a great football player.  I keep watching the tape, and I know that he doesn’t have the great explosiveness off the ball.  I know he’s not an elite athlete.  I know he doesn’t really have that burst around the edge, but the guy is always around the ball.  He’s tough, he’s physical, and he’s strong versus the run.  I think he’s a top 20, 25 pick. 

Dre Kirkpatrick, I know some teams are concerned about ‑‑ it’s not character baggage as much as the personality and is he going to fit.  Obviously, he has short arms and not great ball skills.  I could see him dropping a little bit out of the top 20, maybe.  But I still think he’s a first round pick. 

To be honest, the guy I’m most surprised with finally finishing up tape study in the past weeks is Dont’a Hightower.  I think he’s a top 20 player in this draft.  I know he had the knee injury, and he doesn’t have elite speed, but he’s 265 pounds, somewhere in that range, great versus the inside run.  Pass rusher that can get off the edge, which was an addition to his game this past year.  It’s not just something that he did that was cute to help out for Alabama this year.  He’s got great hands, quick, can swim, can get off the line. 

There are times he looks more explosive than Upshaw coming off the edge.  So I think it’s legitimately something he can do at the next level.  Pittsburgh Steelers to me would be a perfect fit for him if he lasts that long.  Steelers pick at 24.  So I would agree.  There is a strong chance that all five of those guys are off the board by 24.

Q. The Vikings are sitting at number 3, and the early vibe is Matt Kalil is the safe bet there.  But in your mind are there reasons you could identify them passing on Kalil and going in a different direction? 

TODD McSHAY:  The only reason I could think of would be if they got a great trade offer.  Obviously they have multiple needs they’re looking to address.  It’s not as if they feel they can plug in a left tackle and all of a sudden it solves all the problems.  They’ve got to get Ponder many weapons.  The cornerback is still a need, safety is a need.  They can upgrade their linebacker situation.  I just think they have a lot of different holes they can fill, and areas where they can continue to get better and improve their depth. 

If I’m the Vikings, it would take a great deal.  It would take a team blowing me away, because you don’t have many opportunities to get an elite left tackle and a guy that can protect your investment.  Whether you believe Ponder’s going to be a great quarterback or not at all, bottom line, you drafted him high last year, and I know the organization is confident in him.  So you’ve got to do everything you can to put him in the best situation to succeed, and I think right now unless you get multiple picks that can come in and be successful and productive players around that quarterback position, just go ahead and take the tackle. 

Yes, he can get stronger.  But he’s gotten bigger.  I think he’s gotten stronger in this off‑season and the postseason.  He’s a nasty guy.  He’s physical, and I know he has great athleticism and that’s what everyone sees.  But he’s not a soft, finesse left tackle.  He knows what it takes to get it done.  He’s a finisher.  I just think he’s a plug and play left tackle who can start immediately and can start at a high level and become a perennial Pro Bowl type player.

Q. Just want to check in on Brandon Boykin, the cornerback from Georgia, where he fits and what might be available for the Falcons at 55 at left tackle there? 

TODD McSHAY:  Well, Boykin’s fast.  Every time I watch Boykin, it’s all I can think of.  He’s just so fast.  Everything he does is fast.  I think his instincts need to improve.  I know his instincts need to improve.  He’s late diagnosing some throws.  When they put him in the zone, he can get lost a little bit, and that’s not really his strength. 

But he’s such a good athlete.  He can absolutely fly.  His vertical leap is just insane.  If you watch the Spud Webb YouTube, just look up Brandon Boykin dunk contest.  I stumbled on it a couple years ago when I started looking at him.  And it’s amazing.  He’s just so physically gifted.  You see the suddenness, the explosiveness.  To me, maybe he’s just a nickel corner, but maybe you get production out of him on the offensive side if you’re creative enough.  You definitely get production out of him and potentially some big plays in the return game. 

So if you’re just judging him as a true corner, he’s probably a third, maybe late third, fourth round in that range.  But his athleticism and versatility, and the ability to help on special teams is why I’ve got a late second, early third‑round grade.  I think he has a chance to come off the board in that late second‑round range. 

The Falcons.  Who is going to be available?  Their pick came 23rd in the second.  At that point, I just did this two‑round mock draft.  There was still (Zebrie) Sanders from Florida State who is still on the board, Mitchell Schwartz from Cal, kind of that third tier of offensive tackle at that point. 

Bobby Massie would probably be the best available and maybe best case scenario coming out of Mississippi.  I don’t know that he’s going to fall all the way there, but if he does it’s a possibility.  Zebrie Sanders from Florida State, there is a good chance he’ll be there.  He kind of fits what they want to do.  He fits that Florida State zone blocking scheme, and I think he has the athleticism to play left tackle, but I’m not necessarily convinced of it.  It’s always hard to plug your left tackle, and it’s not going to be easy to do.

Q. If you’re the Redskins and you don’t pick until the third round, and you still have needs at right tackle, maybe cornerback, can they possibly get a starter, right tackle that late in the draft in the third round?  Who are some of the guys that you see that might be able to plug in at that position? 

TODD McSHAY:  I just mentioned Mitchell Schwartz.  Jeff Allen from Illinois is another one.  You’ll see him on some lists as a guard.  But I think he can play right tackle.  Kelechi Osemele, I’m going to have to learn his name in the next week or two, how to pronounce it exactly.  But the Iowa State offensive guard right tackle prospect is another one.  Mitchell Schwartz to me is probably the best fit if he were to fall to them at that spot. 

It’s interesting.  There is a lot of depth in the first round.  You’ve got one elite offensive tackle in Kalil.  Then there is a drop off.  Then there are a group of different guys that can fit holes.  I think Riley Reiff is never going to be elite, but he’s always going to be solid coming out of Iowa.  Cordy Glenn is a right tackle prospect.  Jonathan Martin needs to get stronger and is maybe not ready to step in and be a good starter at left tackle now, but he has the potential to be.  Mike Adams is maybe the most talented offensive lineman in this draft, but he’s inconsistent and you just don’t trust him.  He gets lazy at times.  Then there is a drop off after those guys. 

That’s where I think any number of those guys can come off the board in the late second to early third round range.  Bobby Massie, Mitchell Schwartz, Donald Stephenson is another name you might hear out of Oklahoma.  A couple of those guards that could play right tackle, I think the best of that group could be Allen coming out of Illinois.

Q. I know you had in your latest mock with the Giants taking Lavonte David.  But I was wondering. The Giants love to take best player available.  Could you name some other best possible best player available candidate that’s would be there at 32 besides Lavonte? 

TODD McSHAY:  Yeah, to be honest with you, that was best player available in that scenario that made any sense.  I actually don’t know that in their minds they need to go out and draft a linebacker.  Just so you understand, to me, David at 32 is a great value.  As I mentioned earlier in the call, I think he’s one of the more underrated prospects in this entire draft. 

But some other guys, just looking at how things laid out in that mock draft, you change one guy and everything gets shuffled around. 

But Janoris Jenkins at cornerback; is the team going to be willing to deal with his off the field issues. He is a mid-first round prospect, and certainly belongs in the top 15, I think, if you’re just looking at physical tools. 

But I just don’t ‑‑ I don’t know, especially a team like the Giants, I don’t know that they want to deal with it.  And I don’t know if the juice is worth the squeeze with this kid, and it’s unfortunate because he’s so gifted and he has such a bright future if he can get away from all the things that are bringing him down and the people around him. 

Other positions, offensive tackle, if one of those offensive tackles were to fall, like Mike Adams, maybe he falls because teams are concerned about the inconsistency, I think he’d be a great fit. 

I think Cordy Glenn, if he were to fall, I don’t think he will, but guard, right tackle.  Jonathan Martin from Stanford, teams aren’t as high on him.  Teams don’t perceive him to be strong enough right now.  I think that would be a possibility. 

You look at running back. I don’t think necessarily that any of those second tier running backs after Trent Richardson is worth drafting.  But if they have one they believe in more than the other, they’ll have the pick of the litter at 32. 

I think there are three guys you look at, Lamar (Miller) from Miami, a guy that can cut and go.  David Wilson from (Virginia) Tech, a guy with acceleration that hits it hard, but vision and patience is not quite there, and not great in the passing game, but can improve.  Doug Martin not as explosive as the other two, Doug Martin coming out of Boise State.  So those would be some of the guys at tackle and running back that I think are possibilities at 32 for the Giants.

Q. I had a question in regards to Alshon Jeffery at the University of South Carolina.  What did you want to see out of his pro day?  I also had a question about South Carolina State safety Christian Thompson who seems to have been moving up in some circles when it comes to his draft status? 

TODD McSHAY:  With Alshon, I think it was all positive.  I think it really was because the fact that I think he was at 216, if I remember correctly, at the combine.  Then he was down to 213, so he lost even a few more pounds, which is good because there were some people that were concerned that it was maybe kind of a Jenny Craig diet, if you will.  Just shed the pounds and not necessarily be in the best shape for the combine, but then you’d have a few weeks after the combine to continue to get in good shape and stronger and all that. 

So I think he’s proven that he can carry that weight if he’s willing to focus on it and work to be in good shape.  I think running the time that he did only can help him.  The fact that he can get down the field and go up and make plays is what I like. 

I watch tape after tape after tape of him.  I don’t like his route running.  I don’t think he’s sudden.  Every catch he makes is contested.  He’s not polished, and he has work to do.  You can go on and on and on with the negatives.  Bottom line is he can do a few things that most guys can’t.  When you have a player like that with his size and straight line speed and his ability to go up and get the ball and his rare ball skills ‑‑ when I say rare, I think he’s in the top two or three of all receivers in his class.  When the ball is in the air, it’s his, and I love that about him. 

I just think those guys are going to go.  They don’t last very long, and in a league where teams are looking for mismatches and edges, somehow some way in the passing game, I know there are a lot of things that he’s got to get better at and may never be good at. 

But I think Alshon Jeffery, to me at least, belongs in the early to mid second round range, and I think a team’s going to take a chance on him. 

As far as Christian Thompson’s concerned, I’ve only watched two tapes.  He’s on a short list of guys I need to watch more on.  But when I look at him, you’ve got the size‑speed combination.  He ran the fastest 40 of all the safeties at the combine.  He’s good, aggressive versus the run.  He’ll come up and hit you.  He’s got a lot of technical work from what I’ve seen.  He gets lost in the run game sometimes, impatient in pass coverage, and we’ll kind of get out of position and do some things that he’s going to need some work on.

But to me, as a late round day three pick, you bring him in, he comes down, hits guys on special teams, has the speed and size and all the things that you’re looking for.  If he wants to work at it, he’s got a chance to make a roster and continue to develop as a safety in the back end of a roster.

Q. If you’re Miami at 41 and looking at receivers at that spot, you just talked at length about Jeffery.  If he’s not there, who else as receiver would be a justified pick at 41, and might Rueben Randle fall to that point? 

TODD McSHAY:  I don’t think that Rueben Randle ‑‑ let’s put it this way.  I’m not as high on Rueben Randle as some other people seem to be.  But I do get the sense there is a chance that he could go in the top 45 picks.  He could be there.  I think at that point he’s a good value.  Not great.  I’d like to see more consistency out of him, and I think there are a lot of areas in his game that need to improve. 

Talk about drafting a receiver in the top 40 picks or somewhere in that range, you’d like to see a little bit more out of him in terms of his route running ability and all of that.  But when I watched the tape, I was surprised.  He’s a little more athletic than I expected.  He’s fluid.  He can definitely get down the field.  He has deceptive speed.  He doesn’t have a great 40 time on record.  But the guy knows how to get down the field.  He can go up and get the football.  I think he’ll be able to stretch the field to a certain degree. 

Now A.J. Jenkins from Illinois, I don’t know that you want to draft him that high.  I’ve got him 69th overall in the class, but he’s a receiver that’s moving up.  Talked about Alshon Jeffery before.  I think Stephen Hill’s going to be long gone, Kendall Wright, Michael Floyd from Notre Dame, and Justin Blackmon will be the first receiver off the board.  When you look at it, the two most reasonable solutions at that 41 pick would be Jeffery and Randle. 

After that, you can start to look at the third round.  Maybe A.J. Jenkins falls.  Maybe Brian Quick from Appalachian State falls, but it will just be early in the third round, because both of those guys right now are trending up, if you will.  I think Jenkins, people are realizing he’s a lot more explosive than what we expected because he just came out of nowhere this year and disappeared in the second half of the year.  But he’s a better athlete than I expected and can get down the field. 

Then Brian Quick from Appalachian State did not have a great week at The Senior Bowl, but he’s so talented and 220 pounds.  He had 202 catches is the number I want to say at Appalachian State, and almost 17 yards per catch.  The guy’s a play maker and very athletic for a big guy.  There are so many things he can do if coached properly and really develop the right way.

Q. It seems to be quite the hot topic for a lot of teams what’s going to happen at number 4.  I think you still have Blackmon.  But can you talk about the Richardson‑Blackmon debate?  And I little bit about Tannehill? 

TODD McSHAY:  They’ve got a tough decision to make.  That’s not a news flash there.  But I think the whole draft swings at number 4.  I say that because the Browns really do need almost all the top prospects that will be available at that spot.  They have a wide receiver need, and you’ve got Justin Blackmon who is most likely available to you.  You’ve got a need for running back.  You’ve got to upgrade that position.  You look at the last couple years, Hardesty is their top back, and he can’t stay healthy.  He’s three yards per carry in his career. 

You’ve got Little and Massaquoi as your top two wide receivers, and don’t have a number one guy.  Then quarterback maybe your third or fourth biggest need when you look at urgency.  But it’s still a big need, and I think everyone understands that they need ‑‑ whether it’s this year or next year, got to find an upgrade over Colt McCoy moving forward for this franchise to take a giant leap. 

It’s frustrating, I know, when you look at Tannehill and how quickly he’s risen in only 19 starts, and the production isn’t elite and the completion percentage and all of that, but I would have a very difficult time passing on him at that number 4 pick.  I just think that he has everything you look for in a future franchise quarterback if you develop him properly and you’re willing to be patient.  So that’s where Colt McCoy comes in to me. 

You know that you can win some games and you’ve got a young quarterback.  Yes, Colt may be frustrated, but I know Colt well enough that he’s going to do what’s right for the team and handle the situation properly at least in the short term.  Then maybe they can trade him and move on. 

But if you bring in Tannehill and sit him for ideally a year or the majority of the year and put him in towards the end of the year to get him some experience, I just think that you’re looking at an organization that has its future franchise quarterback.  Has a guy with all the physical tools, the size, arm strength, accuracy, which continues to improve.  Has the right mentality, can handle pressure, and has intangibles through the roof. 

That turns everything around.  You can have Trent Richardson and he’s going to be a phenomenal back.  Can you have Justin Blackmon, and he’s probably going to be in that second tier of wide receivers in the NFL, and that’s great.  But they don’t win Super Bowls.  We haven’t seen Adrian Peterson win a Super Bowl.  We haven’t seen Andre Johnson win a Super Bowl.  You have a great quarterback, you win Super Bowls; and I think Tannehill has a chance, if developed properly and patient with him, to become a great quarterback. 

That’s what they’re up against.  It will be interesting to see if Minnesota trades out and a team tries to trade in ahead of them.  Maybe Cleveland won’t have a chance to get Tannehill at that number four spot.  But I think it’s going to be a huge internal struggle trying to figure out whether to go with Tannehill.  If not, what do you do? 

Q. I was going to ask you if you’ve rated Tannehill in the Top 10, and it sounds like you definitely have?

TODD McSHAY:  Yeah, I moved him up to number 8.  I finally finished.  What happens is, not to bore you, but from NFL teams I get seven or eight depending on how many weeks ‑‑ it’s a certain number of weeks of games for my coach copy tape.  So I watch all of that.  Finally, right after the combine, I get all of the remaining games, the Bowl games, the All‑Star Games, the combine workouts and all that stuff. 

So I finally just in the last five days, four or five days finished up the top quarterbacks.  Tannehill was the third guy that I did.  When I was done, when you starting to through your check list of what you’re looking for and what he can do, I did a study on all the top quarterbacks and the pressure ratings, how they handled pressure tangibly and intangibly.  Every time they dropped back to pass, and they were affected by the pass rush, how did they perform?  How many times were they sacked in comparison?  The ratio of pressure drops to sacks.  What was their completion percentage?  What was their touchdown to interception ratio, the whole thing, and did that study. 

Then intangibly with ESPN’s statistics groups helped me out.  They did it for me.  I outlined what it was and they plugged in the numbers of third downs, fourth downs, looking at fourth quarter when trailing or with a one‑score lead.  Just pressure moments of games and how they performed. 

So I looked at all of those things in all of my tape study, and it added up.  In my mind he was a mid/late first round prospect, but when you take your initial bias out of it, he has everything you look for.  It took taking a step back and looking at everything I have on paper for this guy to realize he belongs in the Top 10 and has a chance to be an elite quarterback in the NFL. 

To me, you’ve got Andrew Luck at No. 1, then a little bit of a drop off.  There is a difference between he and Robert Griffin III.  I don’t think the difference between Robert Griffin III and Tannehill is that big, to be honest with you.  I really don’t. 

Then there are other guys that are late first, early second round prospects.  The quarterback class is as deep as I can remember in the last several years.  But with Tannehill, I believe he belongs in the Top 10, and I would have no problem pulling the trigger on this guy.

Q. Two Canadian kids, Tyrone Crawford, the defensive end from Boise State, and Philip Blake, the center from Baylor.  Can you assess their abilities and just predict where they might go in the draft? 

TODD McSHAY:  I like Crawford.  I actually like both of them.  But Tyrone Crawford, the more I watch of him, the more I like him, 6’4″, 275 pounds,  carries his weight very well,  kind of a long frame and strong and does a good job taking on blocks, and he’s strong, but he has quick feet.  I think that his best football is still ahead of him.  From a technical standpoint, he can get better.  But he consistently is able to penetrate.  He’s very disruptive.  He has the natural tools you look for. 

The best part of his game to me is all the things he needs to improve upon, he’s capable of improving upon.  They’re all things he needs to be coached and with hard work, he can get there.  I’ve given him a higher grade than most; real early third round grade.  To me I wouldn’t have a problem taking him late in the second.  I know that seems high, but I think he has a lot of potential, and I love the way he plays. 

As far as Blake is concerned, I still think it’s hysterical that there’s a pipeline from Canada to Baylor in these offensive linemen.  But Blake’s got the size.  He’s 6’3″ 311 pounds.  He started out at Tyler Junior College, but the last couple years, I think three years starting — 12 games, 13, 13.  Talk about a guy that’s gained experience.  Doesn’t have elite height, but he’s thick, strong and tough.  I think he has a chance to come in and become a solid starting center in the league and has some versatility too.  I don’t see any reason he couldn’t play guard if necessary. 

I think you’ve got Peter Konz from Wisconsin No. 1 at center, and then it comes down to Ben Jones and Blake at that number two center spot.  I’ve got both in that fourth to fifth round range, and they’re almost identical grade.  I’ve got Blake as a 56, and Ben Jones as a 55.  So they’re almost identical.  I think both of them belong somewhere in the early day 3.

Q. For the sake of this question, say the Browns don’t go with Tannehill at 4, and they want to go with the best offensive player available, Richardson or Blackmon.  How do you weigh that choice that they could have there? 

TODD McSHAY:  That’s a tough part.  I think there is no question that Trent Richardson is a better talent.  I think he has a chance to come in and become an immediate success.  I don’t see a huge difference between he and Adrian Peterson.  Their running style is different.  I don’t mean it that way.  But in terms of what they can provide, they have a similar grade when I went back and looked at how I graded Peterson compared to Richardson. 

He has the size, the power, the competitiveness.  I think like any young back it will be an adjustment how quickly things close up.  He didn’t play behind a great offensive line, but a lot of their runs were slower developing.  But I know he has the instincts to adjust. 

He has lateral agility like very few guys in the 230 pound range.  He can flat out ‑‑ you give him a crease, and he can take it.  He can go.  He also is catching the ball I think naturally.  He can make double moves in open field and make things happen as a receiver after the catch.  He’s improved in pass protection. 

So there is no part of his game that I look at and don’t like.  I think he can come in and become a huge difference maker in a league right now that is trending away from the running back position and more towards the passing attack and having these big wide receivers.  That is the issue, I guess, if you’re Cleveland. 

The shelf life for running backs is as short as any position.  I think it’s the shortest of them all.  Are we going to get out of him what we got with Blackmon even though Blackmon’s not as good?  I would stick with Richardson, because I would stick with my board and I know he’s a better football player.

But I also know that Holmgren has a huge respect for wide receivers and what they can do in terms of changing the game plan and becoming impact players.  And they need to get a guy like that for McCoy.  They can’t go wrong, but I would take Richardson over Blackmon if those were the two options.

Q. What do you think of Temple’s Bernard Pierce and his abilities and where do you see him going?

TODD McSHAY:  I like Bernard.  I think he’s not an elite talent, but I think he’s one of the more underrated or overlooked players in this draft.  When I watch his running style, he’s not Arian Foster, but he’s got some of those same type of qualities where he has good size.  He runs with good balance, and he’s able to make sharp cuts, he has that lateral agility that you look for. 

He has the frame.  He’s big.  Everything he does is in balance, and I love that about him.  I think it’s very important at the running back position.  He has a good feel for the cutback lanes.  He can bounce runs outside, make the sharp cut and come back inside, and he’s great in the red zone.  Some guys just have a knack around the goal line and short yardage, and I think that’s one of his strengths. 

On the flip side, he runs upright.  He’s kind of a high runner, takes a lot of hits.  He’s not as strong as he should be.  You know, I don’t see it on tape, but I’ve heard and talked to multiple scouts that don’t think he’s necessarily the toughest, grittiest guy.  I just don’t see it, but maybe they see something I don’t.  So if he drops a little bit, maybe that has something to do with it. 

But when you’re 218, you run in the 4.4s, and have the production he has, to me it’s a hard look in the third round.  If he falls a little bit because of some of the questions and because of the fact that running backs are not the valued position that it once was, some team’s going to wind up getting really good value in round four.

Q. The Lions still have a glaring need at cornerback.  I was looking for your assessment of a day two crop at that position.  Guys that might be more than slot guys, and specifically Josh Robinson.  I think he’ll go to the Lions in the second round. 

TODD McSHAY:  Yeah, I was surprised.  I was just reading the other day.  I forget where I read it.  But they haven’t drafted a cornerback since the first and second round since Terry Fair in ’98.  Is that true?  It’s crazy to me.  That’s probably why they have a need at the cornerback position.  They’ve obviously gotten it done up front, and they have guys that can get to the quarterback, but they’ve got to fill this hole. 

When you look at the cornerback position, it’s a hard group to evaluate because a lot of the guys that we initially thought were going to run well and had the speed, did not run well.  There are a lot of good players at big schools, but they’re not elite players.  There are a lot of players that appear to be better from smaller schools.  So just in looking at it, you have Morris Claiborne from LSU, Stephon Gilmore who is moving up from South Carolina, Janoris Jenkins who is the second best cornerback in this class, but likely it will fall to the second round.  Who knows?  He could legitimately fall to the third.  So Detroit needs to be prepared and has to make a decision. 

He may already be off their board like he is for several NFL teams.  But Jenkins is a possibility.  Dre Kirkpatrick from Alabama I think is probably the fourth best corner in this class.  What he doesn’t provide in terms of ball skills, he provides in run support and instincts and all of that. 

Then there is a drop off and a whole bunch of players that are in that second, third round range, and I think the depth is great.  You can almost get the same quality player in the third round as you can get in the second. 

I’ll give you a list of guys I think belong in that second to third round range:  Jayron Hosley of Virginia Tech, Chase Minnifield from Virginia, Brandon Boykin who I talked about earlier with the versatility, but not necessarily the best cover corner.  I don’t think he would be the guy that Detroit would want, necessarily. 

Josh Robinson from Central Florida, who I gave a late third round grade off of tape, and then he went and ran a 4.33.  I moved him up a little bit, but he’ll probably be drafted higher than where I have him rated.  That’s why I put him high in the second round.  Because that’s what a mock draft is.  It’s not what I believe, but where I think guys will end up going. 

Trumaine Johnson from Montana, one of those small school players.  6’2, 205 pounds, great athlete.  Can jump out of the gym.  But ran a 4.61, which surprised me.  I thought he was going to be faster. 

Dwight Bentley from Louisiana, Lafayette.  Undersized.  Had a great week at The Senior Bowl, and I think he could be, at worst, a good number 3 cornerback.  Also, Alfonzo Dennard from Nebraska who, I think, is a little bit overrated.  I wouldn’t draft him until the third round.  But he’s instinctive.  He’s tough.  He’s physical.  I think if you protect him vertically, he has a chance to be a pretty good player.

Q. While we’ve been on the phone here, news came out that Jason Peters has a ruptured Achilles tendon.  So thinking now that maybe that affects the Eagles’ draft plans.  When you look at the offensive line and tackles, after Matt Kalil, anybody that who would be there around 15 or they wanted to move up, what would their options be at tackle? 

TODD McSHAY:  That’s kind of a tricky spot.  I think Riley Reiff probably belongs around 15.  I gave him a mid-first round grade.  The problem is he’ll go in the Top 10.  You look last year and Tyron Smith went nine to Dallas, and he’s just so much better than Riley Reiff in terms of his potential.  He came in right away and showed where he belonged. 

Riley Reiff’s a good player, but not at that level in terms of his athleticism.  He’s just consistent and solid across the board.  There is nothing wrong with that.  He’s going to come in and be a good player.  I just don’t know that he’ll be an elite left tackle in the NFL.  But that’s what you’re hoping for when you’re expecting to draft an offensive tackle in the Top 10. 

So in a roundabout way, I think Kalil and Reiff will both be of off the board.  And I don’t think Reiff is moving up forward if that was the process you had.  I think if Kalil starts to fall a little bit because a team moves up and Minnesota trades out and a team tries to go after Tannehill or whatever the scenario, I think he’d be the one player that’s worth moving up.  But you’d probably have to wait to see if he somehow, some way, fell to seven.  I can’t imagine he’d get past six with the St. Louis Rams. 

After those two, you don’t want to draft any of these other guys until the 20s, but it’s offensive tackle and they’ll go higher than we all expected.  I think personally, Cordy Glenn from Georgia is the next best, but he’s a right tackle fit. 

Jonathan Martin is a left tackle fit, but I still think he has to get stronger, and I don’t know that he’s ready to come in right away and become the answer at the offensive tackle position. 

Mike Adams, if you feel great about your coaching staff and ability to motivate, and can get the most out of him, then you get a steal at 15, because I think he’s the second most talented offensive tackle in this class.  But he’s inconsistent.  He’s had durability issues, off the field issues.  And I just don’t trust him enough to feel great about drafting him at 15.

Q. With David DeCastro, the Stanford kid, I know you have him highly rated around 12.  I’m thinking in terms of a Jets perspective, is he only a guard or is he able to project out to right tackle at all? 

TODD McSHAY:  I think he’s a guard.  I think you make a mistake if you try to move him out to right tackle.  He doesn’t have the elite athleticism.  He doesn’t have experience out there.  I don’t think, when you start to look at his physical tools, he doesn’t have the long arms and what you look for in an offensive tackle.  I think obviously if you’re just specifically looking for the offensive tackle position, it does no good for you at guard.  But he has a chance to be one of the elite guards, and right away. He’s as ready as I think I’ve ever evaluated a player in terms of being ready to come in and play at a high level. 

I wrote ‘balance’ down about 90 times when I was watching his tape.  Everything’s in balance and under control. He’s instinctive. He’s absolutely just nasty.  Tough, physical, just plays with the temperament you’re looking for.  Competes, highly respected by his teammates, and just everything. 

Again, he’s the elite of the elite when it comes to guard.  But I don’t think the athleticism is there, I don’t think the length is there, and the arm length you look for in a tackle is there.  I think you’re making a mistake if you try to make him something he’s not, rather than let him do what he does best and become a Pro Bowl level offensive guard.

Q. We know the Redskins, what they’re going to do with the first pick.  Looking in the third round, you addressed right tackle.  How about some safeties there that may be possibilities?  Also, what do you think will be RG3’s biggest adjustment coming out of that offense and coming to an NFL offense?  How long do you think it may take him to adapt? 

TODD McSHAY:  Looking at the third round, safety, yes, a possibility, and that’s kind of where the value starts to get better.  You’ve got Mark Barron from Alabama in the first round, Harrison Smith from Notre Dame in the second round, and probably later in the second round, probably Brandon Taylor from LSU.  Those are the only three I have first or second round grades on.  There are some good options after that though. 

I’ve got five guys in the third/fourth-round range, Antonio Allen from South Carolina, only 201 pounds, good range, and he’s just a ball hawk.  Always around big plays and seems to get involved and can really run.  Phillip Thomas I think is a little underrated.  The more I watch of him, the more I like him.  I just watched his tape I think last week, and he’s growing on me.  I think he may be the fourth- or fifth-best safety, and he doesn’t have great size, but again, a guy who can cover a lot of ground and can make some big plays. 

Robert Blanton is a cornerback that I think can move to safety.  I graded him as a corner back in the preseason, but I wrote his report, and from day one, I think this guy has safety written all over him. 

He’s physical for 195 pounds, and he’s not great in man‑to‑man coverage, but in zone he’s pretty good, versatile, and he’s real comfortable around the line of scrimmage. 

Little later than that, Justin Bethel from Presbyterian, 13 blocked kicks.  He’s a guy that can creep up in early day three.  And Janzen Jackson who has all sorts of off the field issues, transferred from Tennessee to McNeese State.  He’s not polished and needs a lot of work, but he’s supremely talented athletically, and is one of the better man-to-man cover safeties in this draft.  So those are kind of the second, third, fourth round safeties, I think. 

I think inside linebacker is a possibility for them, right tackle and running back as well.  I think they can go in a lot of directions when they get to that third round pick. 

RG3, the adjustment for him, obviously learning the offense and what to do within the offense.  I think he’s always done a great job of protecting the ball.  He limited his mistakes this past year.  I think throwing underneath and working on his foot work and continuing to become more consistent with his feet which will allow him to be more consistent with his accuracy in the short to intermediate game. 

He’s as good as anyone in this draft in the last couple years, probably, in terms of accuracy with the deep ball.  But learning how to be more consistent in ball placement.  I know it’s cliche, but the windows are so much tighter in the NFL than they are in college, especially in that offense.  He throws to wide open receivers.  That doesn’t mean he can’t, but it’s going to be an adjustment, and I think that’s going to be the biggest thing. 

He’s patient in the pocket. A lot of times with guys that are athletic, you worry about them taking off too early.  But I don’t worry about that with him.  He’s a passer first.  He’s patient.  I think he’ll know when to say when and take off running. 

But to me it’s learning about how to be more consistent and to place the football in those throws within 20 yards.  Especially on the timing throws when you just don’t have a whole lot of room to fit the ball in.

Q. Is there much of a drop in your mind after say a Melvin Ingram on your list — in terms of pass rushers, defensive ends, outside linebackers?  

TODD McSHAY:  I think there is.  But it’s not extraordinary.  It’s really a unique class.  Quinton Coples is a slam dunk, Top 10 talent who scares me to death.  I’ve watched some games where he plays harder and you want to say, hey, maybe we’re overrating the inconsistency.  But then you watch other games, and I watched Missouri, the Bowl game the other day, and there are ten plays I could put on tape and you’d watch and say what is going on with this guy?  What is he doing?  Then you watch The Senior Bowl and see all the positives that he can be. 

So you’ve got Coples in the Top 10.  He’s going to go somewhere in that range and be a risk reward.  You’ve got Melvin Ingram who takes some plays off.  I just watched two games the other day of him, and he goes a hundred miles an hour on a lot of plays, but he’ll take some plays off and coast to try to save his energy.  That part I don’t love about him. 

I don’t know what New England is looking for to be honest with you.  These guys are Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steeler type inside linebackers who are short and squatty and have those skill sets. 

I think the most underrated player maybe in the entire draft and certainly in the defensive line is Chandler Jones of Syracuse.  I fell in love with him watching the east‑west Shrine game watching tape at night.  I think he has so much upside.  He’s just scratching the surface. 

Everyone says the production is not there and all of that but I think 6’5, the potential to get to 270 pounds.  He’s proven can he play the left side, the right side.  He even can drop in coverage.  He’s shown that on tape at times.  I just think he’s strong.  He’s physical.  He also has enough athleticism to get after the quarterback. 

To me, I think Chandler Jones, wherever he winds up coming off the board, he’s a perfect fit for New England because of his versatility and the way he plays the game. 

After that, different people like some of these guys more than others.  I like Andre Branch at Clemson.  He fits best as a three‑four outside linebacker.  Whitney Mercilus from Illinois, a defensive end in a four-three or outside linebacker at a three‑four, but a better fit with his hand in the dirt.  He also can move inside and do some things. 

Then Nick Perry from USC who is a little bit overrated, tested better than what you see on tape.  But there is a lot of depth to this defensive end class, and it doesn’t end in the first round.  There are probably four or five other guys that you can get in the second or third round range that can come in and have a chance to contribute.

Q. The Chargers have pick 18.  I’ve seen some mock drafts with them going with someone like Cordy Glenn.  What do you think of the offensive line possibility?  Certainly the Chargers are thinking more defense, and given their needs at outside pass/rush, the three‑four and strong safety, if they go defense, who do you think makes sense for them? 

TODD McSHAY:  You look at it, and there is one safety, so if Barron is not there, I don’t ‑‑ I think you just wait until the second or third round to address it.  I think that’s one possibility there.  I gave them Cordy Glenn.  I think he fits.  He’s a right tackle.  Comes in and would be an upgrade to Cleary. 

I think Cordy Glenn, yes, he’s not as nasty as you’d like to see, and every once in a while he leans on guys and that turned off a lot of scouts.  But he can move a lot better than people give him credit for.  And he was horrific early in the year when they moved him from guard to left tackle.  People think it’s easy to move out to left tackle from guard.  It’s not.  When he played that Boise State game, I think he was embarrassed towards the end of the year.  It shows you how much he worked at it and how good he can get. 

But if they’re going defense, there is one nose tackle you feel great about if he were to fall, and that’s Poe, Dontari Poe from Memphis.  I would be shocked if he’s there at 18.  I think Michael Brockers is intriguing at 18.  He didn’t test well and he’s a little immature.  He’s not developed completely.  He’s got to get stronger and work at it in the weight room.  But he looks like a young Richard Seymour.  He’s just so well‑proportioned.  He’s tall, he’s strong in terms of his lower body and that adds some power.  But I think he can continue to get stronger and really needs to improve that weight room strength. 

So he would be a possibility at nose tackle as well.  Then you look at safety, and pass rushers have kind of gone through all those guys. 

I think that Melvin Ingram will be off the board, and Courtney Upshaw probably will be, but there is a chance he’s still available.  If not, you start to get into that second or third tier.  I think you start to look at Andre Branch. 

I don’t know if you draft Chandler Jones to be a three or four linebacker.  I think he can do a little bit of that, but that’s not what he does best. 

I think Branch from Clemson would be the best fit there, and then maybe into Mercilus from Illinois, and Nick Perry would be a reach that high coming out of USC.  But he would be on the radar if the Chargers were to move back a few spots and maybe someone that they can bring in.

Q. With the two first round picks that the Bengals got, I know you had DeCastro and Gilmore, but in terms of wide receivers, who would be a good fit at those two picks since they don’t have anyone to line up opposite A.J. Green? 

TODD McSHAY:  Right.  I looked at that when I went through it because I kind of put my mind to become that organization and what I think would best help.  I remember with both picks not believing that it was the right time to pull the trigger. 

When you look at 17, I had already Michael Floyd off the board.  Now if the Notre Dame receiver falls to them at 17, I think you have to think long and hard about passing on him because he’d be a good fit.  And certainly any receiver opposite A.J. Green can benefit from that. 

Kendall Wright, I would not draft at 17.  He has a lot of work to do.  Consistency as a pass catcher and also improving his routes.  But when you start to get down to 22, he’s right in that range, put it that way.  If other guys aren’t available that you’re looking for at different positions like cornerback or guard ‑‑ probably corner and guard to me are the top two.  I think that’s a possibility as well there. 

If you don’t get a receiver in the top two, to me, that’s why you stay away from receivers.  There is so much value in the receiver position in the second and third round.  If you just spent a first rounder on A.J. Green, you should be able to identify a player in the second or third round that can come in and become a good number two. 

You have the quarterback you want.  You have one of the elite talents at wide receiver that will make that guy’s job so much easier.  So whether it’s a Rueben Randle, Alshon Jeffery in the second round, or A.J. Jenkins coming out of Illinois in the third round, some of those other receivers.  There is just a lot of depth to this class and even beyond. 

Brian Quick, I talked about out of Appalachian State, and Joe Adams from Arkansas.  Mohamed Sanu, Marvin McNutt, Jarius Wright, Nick Toon from Wisconsin.  The list goes on and on from guys in those middle rounds.  That’s why I think you address some of those other positions before you get to receiver, but you never know.  Maybe someone falls in their lap and they have to take advantage.

Q. I saw you still have Chandler Jones going to New England at 27.  Is that because you can’t really project him and he’s a good fit there?  Or do you consider him first round talent and are there other teams out there willing to use a first round pick on him? 

TODD McSHAY:  Yeah.  Maybe I’m wrong, wouldn’t be the first time, certainly.  But I think he’s underrated.  I think he is a first round talent.  For a team like New England that values versatility and can get the most out of versatile qualities.  That is the important part.  You can value versatility all you want.  But if you don’t utilize the versatility, you’re not maximizing the players’ strengths.  To me, Chandler Jones, the fact that he can put his hand in the dirt, he can come off the edge, he can two‑gap if you want him to as a three‑four defensive end every once in a while.  He can drop in coverage and do some different things.  That kind of versatility gives you flexibility and allows you to be multiple on defense. 

So I guess the long answer to your short question is, yes, I think he’s worth drafting in the late first round range.  I didn’t give him to New England as a mercy pick or because they couldn’t trade out.  I would be happy if I was New England and sitting there at 27, and Chandler Jones was still there. 

Maybe they like Andre Branch more from Clemson.  I had him going 28, so he would be a possibility.  We know the needs for New England.  It seems simple.  They rarely address the needs we think they’re going to address.  But defensive end, defensive tackle and DB and maybe center down the road.  But defensive end, defensive tackle and DB to me are the top three.  There are going to be plenty of guys there. 

Whether you’re talking safety with Barron, I don’t think he’s going to be at 27.  But Harrison from Notre Dame is a possibility with that 31st pick.  Then when you start to look at defensive tackle, Michael Brockers could fall to them at 27.  If not, maybe Kendall Reyes who I gave him a 31 from Connecticut who is starting to move up because of his versatility and different things he can do. 

I don’t know that they all fit, but there is a lot of depth in this defensive tackle class.  Jerel Worthy of Michigan State is a player I had falling to the second round, but a lot of teams value him as a first rounder.  I mentioned Reyes from Connecticut, Brandon Thompson from Clemson, Devon Still from Penn State.  All late first, early second round values at that all important defensive tackle position.

Q. You touched on a number of South Carolina players so far.  In terms of Melvin Ingram, right now, how far do you see him being picked?  How far in the first round?  Also, what has Stephon Gilmore been able to do that allowed him to rise up in the draft so quickly as you mentioned?  Also, how much did Marty Markett help solve on Wednesday? 

TODD McSHAY:  Well, start with Ingram.  I think he’s the second best talent at defensive end.  There are different versions at defensive end.  The five techniques: the traditional four‑three defensive ends, and the guys that could transition to that outside linebacker position at the next level. 

What is interesting is you have two guys in this class in Ingram and in Upshaw from Alabama that are kind of similar.  They don’t necessarily have a perfect fit.  But in this league right now, you don’t have to have a perfect fit.  I just think teams that are creative, I think, they can get a lot of value.  To me, Melvin Ingram, I had him falling.  Where did I have him going?  Thirteen to the Arizona Cardinals.  I could see him coming off the board, a few picks higher.  I consider him 10 to the Bills.  Obviously, they’ve addressed their defensive end position, but you never can have enough pass rushers.  Carolina Panthers, I thought he could go.  But if he gets beyond 15 to the Jets, I’ll be shocked. 

Stephon Gilmore, I gave him a second round grade on initial tape.  I watched more tape recently of the last month of the season and the Bowl game.  I thought he continued to get better.  I don’t have as high a grade as some people.  Part of is just the need for cornerbacks, how important that position is.  The fact that the second or third best corners, talking about Jenkins or Kirkpatrick, have a lot of question marks. 

And Gilmore, you don’t have any question marks.  You watch him on tape.  He’s not the most instinctive all the time.  He plays a lot of off coverage and there are some areas of his game he’s going to have to improve in terms of his technique.  I’m just reading my notes.  He’s very good at reading routes when everything’s in front of him.  Very quick, physical, quick feet, fast, can recover, gets high in his pedal.  There are things he needs to work on with his mechanics. 

But the fact that he has good ball skills, good speed, and worked out so well, which, I think this is one position where it’s valued.  I think that’s why Gilmore is really starting to move up.

Q. With NFL teams going to more and more spread stuff and this not a great safety class, do you see some teams projecting some of the bigger corners like Trumaine Johnson as safeties? 

TODD McSHAY:  Definitely, absolutely.  I think you’re right on it.  I think it’s a trend that we’re starting to see a little bit of.  The bigger cornerback, even New England brings in Will Allen to get versatility out of him and play him. 

It’s just there’s not that big of a gray area, I guess.  Or how do you want to put it?  There is a great gray area between being a corner and a free safety in the NFL, I guess is what I’m trying to say.  If you’re not the starting outside corner and you’re coming into a sub‑package, the more versatile, the better.  Doesn’t matter if you’re a true safety or true corner.  You’ve got to match up with these bigger receivers and contend with tight ends, and guys that can run down the scenes and do all those sorts of things.  So I think we’ll see a lot of it. 

I think that’s why when you look at this year’s class, you mentioned Trumaine Johnson, 6’1”.  Dre Kirkpatrick, 6’1.5″, Josh Norman out of Coastal Carolina.  He’s 6 foot and change.  Lot of other guys in that 5’11”, close to 6‑foot range.  I think there are going to be a whole bunch of guys who typically you look at and say maybe they can’t play and you drop them down. 

But now that you’re looking for more guys that have that versatility.  Robert Blanton from Notre Dame.  I mentioned him before, 6’1″, 208.  Limited in coverage as a true corner, but very instinctive.  Has the size.  He’s physical and aggressive with the ball in the air.  He’s a guy that can contend with tight ends on occasion, an Aaron Hernandez type.  Not necessarily Gronkowski, but a smaller H‑back type. 

DeQuan Menzie I mentioned earlier as someone who can do the same.  Jansen Jackson from McNeese State.  So a lot of safety-corner-hybrid types will benefit, and you’ll see a lot of those players in the third or fourth round range that maybe would have fallen to the final couple of rounds in years past really benefit.

Q. Your thoughts on Vinny Curry and which teams you think are the best for him? 

TODD McSHAY:  I love Vinny Curry.  I just finished his report up flying in last night from College Station, Texas A&M.  I watched the final game that I had of him.  I gave him ‑‑ let me give you an exact grade.  I gave him a mid to late second round grade.  I just love the way he plays.  He fires off the ball low.  He gets good leverage.  He has a quick first step.  He’s not an elite athlete, but he’s athletic enough that can he get off of blocks and double move guys.  His motor is always going, it seems. 

With his instincts and the way he plays the game and the fact that he can get to the quarterback, I think that he has a chance to really come in and contribute.  He’s never going to be an elite player because you look at his arm strength and his arms are a little shorter than you want.  You can pick apart all those things.  But when I watch him, he has violent hands, uses his leverage well.  He’s always fighting to get to the ball. 

His motor is always running, and I think his toughness and the way he plays the game, team captain and all that he had to overcome at home, his mom dies of cancer at the age of 50.  He battles back from that.  He doesn’t have a whole lot financially and he’s still bringing homeless people to practice and donating his time to other people.  All the little things that he’s gone through and how important football is to him, I don’t see any way that he doesn’t succeed at the next level.  So maybe he’s a third round talent, but I’d feel great about drafting Vinny Curry in the second round.

Q. Jonathan at Stanford.  How do you evaluate him?  Do you think the Bills need a left tackle? 

TODD McSHAY:  I think you asked about Jonathan Martin.  How do I evaluate him in terms of the Buffalo Bills? 

Jonathan Martin, when I watch tape of Jonathan Martin, I think he’s not an elite tackle.  That’s pretty obvious.  The problem is early on everyone just assumed, and I don’t know why.  Maybe because they had so much success because he protected the blind side of Andrew Luck and maybe the size and everything else.  But everyone seemed to think he was a lock as a top 10 pick and better than Riley Reiff and all these other guys.  So I think it almost hurt him. 

The scouts really started to watch him.  I remember when I started studying him and watching tape from last year.  I liked him.  I didn’t love him.  Then watching tape this year he starts to grow on you again after you get over the initial disappointment that he’s not this elite Matt Kalil type offensive tackle. 

When I grade offensive tackles I grade four areas:  Pass protection, run blocking, awareness, and toughness.  One is the elite grade I can give, 5 is the worst and 2 is above average to good.  And I gave him a 2 in all four categories.  That is the best way I can describe him.  He’s good in every area.  He’s not elite, I don’t think, in any area.

He needs to get stronger.  Only 20 reps on the bench.  He’s not been a big weight room guy in his entire career.  But I think when I watch him, he’s much more consistent with his technique, his effort, with everything that he does, I think, than Mike Adams. 

So that’s why even though I recognize Mike Adams as more talented, I think I would take Martin over Mike Adams because I know what I’m getting.  When you look at the Buffalo Bills, yes offensive tackle is a need.  But are they going to pull the trigger that high?  I don’t know if they can move up to number 10.  Because my thought in this draft is when what you get at 9, 10, 11, 12, is what you’re going to get at 17, 18, 19, 20.  I think there is a drop‑off, but there is a lot of depth in the middle of the first round. 

So I gave him Michael Floyd, the receiver from Notre Dame, and I kind of hated it at the time, to be honest with you.  I struggled with it, and it held me up for about a half hour before I decided to plug him in there.  I don’t know that they want to do that. 

But it’s no more of a reach to take Floyd at 10 than Martin or any of these other offensive tackles.  I think for a team that’s done such a great job drafting or in free agency, I think they’re in a tough spot.  I’m intrigued to see how they get out of it or what they’re able to get from that number 10 pick.

Q. Wondering how much you’re struggling with the Ravens pick at number 29?  It seems the biggest need is at guard?

TODD McSHAY:  Yeah, this is the other one, man.  These are the two.  I started this project late the other night, and I didn’t finish until 5:00 a.m. then I had to get on a flight and fly to Texas A&M.  I really think the Bills and Ravens cost me about an hour and a half. 

You get there, and you’re right.  You look at their needs and I’ve got guard, outside linebacker, left tackle, defensive end, inside linebacker.  You can debate them and maybe I’m missing one.  But there are a handful of needs you can address, some more pressing than others.  For the most part you want to develop for the future. 

Harrison Smith, I like him, but I don’t know that he necessarily definitely belongs in the late first round range.  I’ve got him around 35, 36.  So taking him at 29, not a huge reach.  I’d love to find a guard that sits there.  But at that point you’ve already had Kalil, Reiff, David DeCastro, the top guard.  Courtney Glen as the guard tackle, Jonathan Martin, Mike Adams all off the board. 

You start talking about the other guys that are possibilities and you get down to Bobby Massie or some of the others, and I just don’t know that guard or tackle is where you want to go at 29.  A huge reach taking Massie or Amini Silatolu from Midwestern State or Kevin Zeitler from Wisconsin, they just don’t belong in the top 32 picks.  But that’s why I gave them Harrison Smith. 

But knowing those guys they’ll trade out, get an extra pick.  Get Harrison Smith at 35, 37 and wind up looking like geniuses.  They do as good a job as any organization in the league of maneuvering around and managing the draft.  It doesn’t always work out perfectly, but some player will either fall to them there or they’ll have a deal in place to move back just a little bit and wind up getting a better value for a player like Harrison Smith who maybe belongs in the 30s rather than the 20s.

Q. Wanted to ask you about potential running backs for the Redskins? 

TODD McSHAY:  Yeah, when you look at what they look at the running back position, they evaluate a little bit differently for their scheme and the zone blocking.  You’ve got to run with the wide base.  You’ve got to be able to turn your legs and finish runs.  You’ve got to stick your foot in the dirt and accelerate.  That is probably the one area that is more important to them and zone blocking, run-oriented teams than the rest of the league. 

That is something that they’ll evaluate and will be important in the process.  They’re also obsessed with durability and ball security, which they should be.  When you start to look in the third, fourth round range, who are the guys that fit that mold? 

I think Bernard Pierce to a certain degree.  The toughness issue, I don’t see it necessarily, but Bernard Pierce wouldn’t be a horrible fit.  Chris Polk would be a good fit because he can stick his foot in the dirt, accelerate, runs with a wide base.  He finishes runs.  He can protect, which is another thing that is high on the list.  You’ve got to be willing and tough enough to protect pass pro.  And he of all running backs has the best ball security in his class. 

He didn’t fumble the ball.  I have all the percentages down, but he’s number one of the top 15 guys I did a study on with the stats group. 

After that, I think there is a drop off.  I don’t know that anyone fits until the fourth round.  But then you get into guys like Robert Turbin of Utah State that’s had durability issues and might not fit.  Rodney Hill, Tauren Poole who is 5’10”, but runs with a little bit of a base. 

Edwin Baker is moving up and could be in the third round range.  He’s the type of runner that fits what they want to do.  Vick Ballard from Mississippi State is in the fourth or fifth round range, and he fits what they want to do. 

So for me, rounds three through five, Chris Polk is there.  Bernard Pierce is there.  Robert Turbin, a possibility, Tauren Poole from Tennessee, Edwin Baker would probably be, if not tops on the list, maybe just behind Chris Polk from Michigan State, then probably Ballard after that out of Mississippi State. 

FastScripts by ASAP Sports (please excuse any typos).

–30–