NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock was a regular fixture on NFL Network this past week, breaking down performances as each group went through their on-field workouts. After the skill position players wrapped up, Mayock conducted a press conference Sunday afternoon.
The 49ers have a need at wide receiver, but the extent of it remains to be seen. There are some seriously talented wide receivers, so it's tough to tell just how soon the 49ers might jump on one. If they re-sign Anquan Boldin, the depth chart will include Boldin, Michael Crabtree, and Quinton Patton, along with potentially Jon Baldwin and/or Chuck Jacobs. There is depth there, but there are still some long-term questions until and if the team locks up Crabtree with an extension.
Mayock had plenty of time to talk about the wide receivers in this year's draft, and I thought I'd pull out some pertinent comments. He loves Sammy Watkins as a top-10 talent. If you want to read his specifics on Watkins, you can read the whole transcript at this PDF. I just don't see the 49ers making a move up for Watkins. Some may disagree.
On Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans and Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin:
"There are different ways to separate at the wide receiver position. You can separate with quickness, you can separate with speed, you can separate with route running and you can separate with body type. So when you look at the Texas A&M kid [Mike Evans] and the Florida State kid [Kelvin Benjamin], you're talking about body type; 6'5-plus, 230-240 pounds. In today's NFL with the advent of the back-shoulder fade, which I think has changed the whole way we're drafting now, Benjamin and Evans are today's NFL; outside the numbers, red zone, throw it up. In the old days, even 10,15 years ago, quarterbacks were taught if a corner or safety covered your guy in press coverage, you went to your second read. Now they're taught to throw it at the back of his helmet. Mike Evans, he ran fast, he caught everything, he catches naturally. The Benjamin kid from Florida State is a similar body type; I thought he was a little more stiff today getting in and out of breaks and he had several drops at Florida State so his hands aren't quite as consistent."
On USC wide receiver Marqise Lee:
"Marqise Lee is that guy who can play inside, he can play outside, he can return kicks. I thought he was going to run faster than he did."
On what Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews' performance on Sunday at the Combine did for his draft stock:
"I don't know. I made the comment today I thought at the Senior Bowl he struggled separating a little bit. To me, I thought he was about a 4.55 guy coming off the Senior Bowl. I liked his tape at Vandy because he's the most productive wide receiver in SEC history and then he comes out today and runs 4.44. This is a crosscheck; don't get too excited about guys running around in shorts, it's a crosscheck. So that tells me and I have in my notes I have to go back and watch some more of the Matthews kid from Vandy because I'm not quite sure what he is yet."
On how much LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham helped himself with his performance in the 40-yard dash:
"I knew Beckham was going to run fast, and when you look at the two LSU wideouts Beckham is faster. I made the comment early I thought he might run 4.35 to 4.40, whereas Jarvis Landry would run 4.55. Now, I'm not sure which is the better football player but Beckham certainly helped himself with his speed, his smoothness. His route running is really, really good and I know the NFL people love him."
On what makes Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks a fit for the slot position:
"He can play [like] Marqise Lee. I think he fits inside or outside. In today's NFL where guys like Welker are catching eight, 10, 12 passes a game and what you're looking for is a matchup in the middle of the field. If you're quicker than fast, that's where those slot guys typically end up. I think Cooks is quick and fast."
On wide receivers in this draft that would work well for a team looking for a slot receiver:
"Starting with Marqise Lee would be an excellent slot. You can go a couple of different ways in the slot; a shorter, quicker guy like Wes Welker or sometimes the big body guy where you're trying to throwing slants and get him one-on-one with a linebacker. I think Jarvis Landry from LSU is one of the toughest players in this draft; he pulled up today and ran 4.65 which I don't think means anything but I think he's a slot. I think Brandin Cooks initially is going to be looked at as a slot. I think [Jared] Abbrederis from Wisconsin is an interesting guy in the slot, Robert Herron from Wyoming is an interesting guy in the slot. [Bruce] Ellington from South Carolina."