Mayock: Teams either buy into QBs or don’t

NFL Network analysts make their first-round picks during a mock draft on Tuesday, April 26, in New York. (Ben Liebenberg/NFL)

NEW YORK – NFL Network’s third annual roundtable mock draft, like its predecessors, was an interesting endeavor in looking at how the first round ultimately could play out.

With analyst Mike Mayock, who will unveil his full first-round mock draft on NFL Network on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET), playing the role of commissioner, seven analysts — Michael Irvin, Brian Billick, Charles Davis, Michael Lombardi, Marshall Faulk, Steve Mariucci and Bucky Brooks — and NFL Network host Rich Eisen made the picks.

After Irvin took Cam Newton No. 1 for the Panthers, here’s a look at a few other developments as the event unfolded:

  • In selecting DT Marcell Dareus for the Broncos at No. 2 overall, Billick noted he views this draft as having three blue-chip players: Dareus, OLB Von Miller and CB Patrick Peterson.
  • With Newton, Dareus and Miller (No. 3, Bills) off the board, Davis selected QB Blaine Gabbert for the Bengals at No. 4 over Peterson and WR A.J. Green:  “I believe Carson Palmer, he isn’t stepping foot into that stadium, unless he’s in another uniform. It’s not just a posture.”
  • Two quarterbacks went off the board in the first four picks, but another wasn’t taken in the entire round, a trend Mayock “doesn’t see happening” when the first round is drafted for real on Thursday night. Mayock, who believes a draft-record eight QBs will be taken in the first three rounds, sees QB-needy teams pulling the trigger: “You can’t get cute and try to trade down from No. 10 or 12 to No. 19 and hope your guy is there, because he might not be,” Mayock said. “Will Washington, Minnesota or another team pull the trigger (early)? Because you either believe in your guy or you don’t.”
  • This mock’s first surprise was Faulk selecting DT Nick Fairley for the Browns at No. 6 overall. With the Browns switching to a 4-3 defense, Mayock sees Fairley as a scheme fit for the Browns.
  • Mariucci couldn’t pass up taking Green with the No. 7 overall pick for the 49ers, despite there not being a need at the position. Could Green slide to the Niners? “This doesn’t surprise me, and this could happen in the real draft. He’s one of the top four players on every team’s board,” Mayock said.
  • Billick isn’t convinced the potential upside of USC OT Tyron Smith is quantifiable, and, in a minor surprise, made Boston College OT Anthony Castonzo the first tackle off the board for the Redskins at No. 10 overall.
  • Although he chose WR Julio Jones at No. 12 for the Vikings, Davis suggested the team will think long and hard about QBs Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett with the pick. “I guarantee you they’re grinding on Locker with that pick to see if he’s their guy,” added Mayock.
  • One of the most debated picks in this mock was for Mariucci and the Dolphins at No. 15, which would ultimately be the only running back taken in the first round, Mark Ingram. “I don’t care if he’s a role player or not,” Mariucci said. “He’ll make the Dolphins better.” With only two DEs off the board, Mayock and Lombardi argue DE Cameron Jordan would have been the better pick for the Dolphins.
  • One of the players who could potentially slide in the draft, Clemson DE Da’Quan Bowers, lasted until the Bucs at No. 20. “Would they take a guy, if he passes medically, who was supposed to be a top-five pick, if not the first overall pick, with the need at DE?” Mayock asked, adding Bowers is the draft’s wild card. Davis says they do.
  • Lombardi grabbed DT Marvin Austin for the Bears at No. 29, a player he believes is the “true sleeper” in the draft and could develop into a blue-chip player. Mayock called it “a great pick” for the Bears to replace Tommie Harris.
  • The four interesting picks that stood out to Mayock: Jones (No. 12, Vikings), OL Danny Watkins (No. 21, Chiefs), CB Jimmy Smith (No. 23, Eagles), and Austin (No. 29, Bears).

— Frank Tadych

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