The NFL Network's Mike Mayock spent a long time on a call to discuss the upcoming draft. Here are some Patriots highlights:
On offensive guard prospect A.J. Cann and whether or not he's worth a 1st round pick:
You go back to [Logan Mankins] and the Patriots taking him at [32nd overall] years ago, and there have been an awful lot of those types of picks at the end of the first round where teams get stuck. Say you're looking for a defensive player, and your entire defensive side of your board is decimated. So now you're looking for a safe guy who do you know that can plug and play and has little downside? There's been an awful lot of those interior offensive linemen that have answered that particular question.
As far as A.J., I've seen mostly second round grades on him. But, again, that was no different than Logan Mankins and "a handful of other guys. So whether it's Cameron Irving, Logan Mankins and A.J. Cann, I think all of those guys could be in play later on, but more likely into the middle of the second round.
On the other guards in the draft:
[Florida State right guard] Tre Jackson is my number five interior offensive lineman. I have him in the second round. Liked what I saw at the Senior Bowl. Most of the Florida State guys kind of pegged out of it at the end. I understand it's a long season. But this kid came to the Senior Bowl ready to play. I think the fact that he showed up and he showed up with an attitude helped a lot with the NFL scouts. Solid second-round pick.
[Florida State left guard Josue Matias], I don't think he is quite at the level. I have him as a borderline third or fourth round offensive guard.
A guy that's similar to [Detroit Lions right guard Larry Warford] who I like a lot who I think is a second-round pick, I tend to like him more, his name is Laken Tomlinson from Duke. This is a big, square, tough guy; smart as can be; has movement in the run game; surprisingly quick in short areas. I think he really helped himself at the Senior Bowl. I think a lot of the doubters as far as his athleticism, the ability to pass block- Oh, he's blocking some of the best defensive linemen in the country. I think he's a really good player.
I think a third-round guy might be John Miller from Louisville. Another one of those big, square, tough guys, gets movement in the run game.
But that's a group of four.
[Texas A&M guard] Jarvis Harrison is another guard that maybe underachieved a little bit, but with a lot of talent. Third or fourth round.
Note: to piece together, Mayock notes that Brandon Scherff is his top rated interior lineman. Since Scherff is regarded as a top 10 pick, I haven't highlighted him. Mayock views his top five as Scherff, Erving, Tomlinson, Cann, and Jackson.
On where quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would go in this draft:
He would probably fall, I would say three [ranked as the third quarterback]. I think he's a little more advanced and you have a little more confidence in the fact that he can do what you're asking him to do over Bryce Petty or Brett Hundley.
How does the Super Bowl success of Malcolm Butler force the review of notes and evaluations:
My first thought is whenever a player comes out of nowhere, a non-combine guy and becomes a good player, my first thought is what a great job that organization did. In this case, it would be New England.
My first introduction to him came this summer when I went down to Washington to watch the Patriots and the Redskins practice together for a couple days. I remember walking off the field going who the heck is that kid? And he wasn't even on my board. I came away going, wow, great seat. So I don't get mad at myself on those kinds of kids, because if I didn't evaluate them, you know, I get basically a list of draftable kids and I just try to watch tape of as many of the draftable kids as I possibly can. He wasn't even on any lists.
So bottom line is great job by New England, impressive kid. His change of direction, his feet were explosive. I saw that in training camp. So it's just amazing how many different places football players come from these days.
On Michigan receiver Devin Funchess, who is often mocked to the Patriots:
He's not even 21 years old yet. He's going to continue to grow. I think he's got better movement skills than Kelvin Benjamin who went 28th, I think it was, last year to Carolina. I'm looking at him as a wideout which is what he wants him to be.
The question is Benjamin from Florida State last year ran 4.61 at 6'5", 240 pounds. I think Funchess will be almost as big, run faster and have better movement skills. Will he gain 15 pounds in the next come years? Will he be more Jimmy Graham, which would be fine also. So I think you have to look at him as a mismatch and evaluate him that way.
Overall, Mayock believes this is a strong draft for receivers and running backs, and a weak one for quarterbacks and safeties. All the more reason to pony up to make sure Devin McCourty can never leave.