NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock held his annual pre-combine conference call with NFL reporters on Monday. The conference lasted around two hours and the transcript came to around 23,530 words in length, which is a ton of information for a guy to spew out in one sitting.
Mayock fielded questions from reporters across the country, and a few Cleveland reporters on the call got some questions in, which I will highlight below. The first question was, unsurprisingly, about the Browns' quarterback situation:
"Q. Can you address the whole kind of messed up quarterback situation for the Browns now. Do they do something with 12 and 19 and grab one of those guys? Is Winston too much of a character with what's going on with Johnny [Manziel]?"
Mayock: "Trying to move up and take one of those quarterbacks is very risky after they've already made several risky moves. First round last year, I'll be the first to put my hand up, and I hope I learn a lesson in that I kind of bought into Johnny [Manziel] just being immature. Apparently, there's a lot more than that.
I don't by any means think that he or the corner they took in the first round careers are over. Both of them are very talented kids. I hope the Browns get something out of both of them. But I think it's difficult to package 12 and 19 and move up four. Whether it's projection on the field or worries off the field. If I'm Cleveland, I'm looking at 12 and 19 and saying, Man, I need to get one of the best wide receivers in this draft. I probably could use a right tackle at some point. You're going to need a tight end probably depending on free agency.
At the end of the day I'd like to get two great football players at 12 and 19, and I'd be very hesitant about moving up for a quarterback. As far as Manziel's future is concerned, I still buy into the quarterback. I still think he can learn to be a difference maker in this league. But I think almost all of it is contingent upon whether he grows up, is able to handle himself, is able to overcome the problems he has and move forward with the football."
The next question asked whether the Browns might consider taking a defensive lineman with one of their first-round picks, which was a popular thought around here as last season progressed:
Q. "I know you said Browns might look at wide receiver, maybe tackle right end, but if they look at the other side of the ball, either 12 or 19, one of those first-round picks, who do you think would make sense for them at defensive tackle? They've got some meat on the defensive line in Mike Pettine's three-four scheme."
Mayock: "Yeah, no doubt, the problem is that Rubin is a free agent. I happen to like Desmond Bryant, Billy Winn and Taylor, if they've got a little bit, and Armonty Bryant isn't bad when he's healthy. They've got a little something up there. But as far as a big, physical nose tackle, there are a couple of them in this draft. Jordan Phillips is another one of those boom or bust guys from Oklahoma.
So if you're asking me if you're going to take him at 19, that's a little rich. But he's 6'6, 325, and he shuts the run game down. Plus he's athletic enough to push the pocket. He started one year. He had back surgery two years ago. He's a little bit of a risk. I think Arik Armstead, from Oregon is an intriguing guy especially in the three-four. He can play any one of the three positions. He's 6'8, 290, and he's a baby right now. He's going to grow into something immense, and he's got great skills. So at 19, there are going to be opportunities at defensive tackle. Malcolm Brown could be there, Eddie Goldman could be there, and I think if it's deep enough he could get a quality defensive tackle."
The final questions touched on the offensive and defensive line, and then the running back position for Cleveland:
Q. "About the Browns, you went through a couple of positions. Obviously, quarterback is one they're always talking about. But if they did not go with quarterback, we mentioned wide receiver, would you be more inclined with that number 19 pick to take an offensive tackle or defensive tackle? That is one question. My question is do you think they have their running backs or do you think they need to upgrade that position with West and Crowell?"
Mayock: "I'm less concerned about running back than I am O-line and D-line. I'm okay with West and Crowell right now, but I think you've got to continue to upgrade that offensive line. Obviously, we've already talked about the defensive line. So what I would say to you is it's almost impossible in a vacuum to tell you which way to go and which player is available offensive line versus defensive line, and how it fits into what we're looking to do. So you're sitting at 19. And if you tell me at number 19 to pick a name out of here of the offensive lineman, that Collins is there at 19, and he could be. He's a plug-and-play right tackle. I would be like that's pretty good. How does that many do pair to the defensive line?
I could take a project like the Oklahoma nose tackle. That is a little rich to me, Jordan Phelps. But I would be intrigued by Arik Armstead. And you have to look at the two players of which is better, which one do we think we can win with more quickly?"
You can read Mayock's full transcript here to see what he said about other players and teams.