Posted: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014
By Dave Halprin
NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock recently held a lengthy conference call about the 2014 draft prospects.
Earlier today we dove into what Mike Mayock had to say about defensive linemen in this year's draft. Defensive line could certainly be classified as issue number one for the Cowboys this offseason, but the position of safety is also a sore spot. Barry Church is one good piece, but the combination of J.J. Wilcox, Jeff Heath and the ever-injured Matt Johnson leaves the Cowboys wondering if they can go out and win with their current crop. Do they go safety early in the draft? Let's check on what Mike Mayock had to say about the top safeties in the 2014 draft.
Q. On Calvin Pryor and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
MAYOCK: They are different players. For me, Calvin prior is like a bigger, stronger Bob Sanders. He flies around, he hits people, he explodes everywhere. I think he is a little better in the box than he is on the back end. It might be just because of the way Louisville used him. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix did, from the other hand, has got better range, and I think he's more of a deep third, deep‑half guy, he tackles well and he can invert up into the box. I think he's a complete player, so both of those guys, I wouldn't even blink if they went at No. 10. But it depends what flavor you're looking for because they are a little bit different type players.
Q. Who are some of the mid‑round safeties that you like?
MAYOCK: Deone Bucannon from Washington State, probably a third round guy, [Terrence] Brooks from Florida State, third round, [Ed] Reynolds from Stanford third round, free safety. They are three guys I like. One of my favorite safeties in this draft is Jimmy Ward from Northern Illinois, but I'm not sure he's getting out of the second round.
Q. In talking about cornerbacks and maybe even safeties, which ones do you think are best at the nickel cornerback position?
MAYOCK: The other guy that's kind of interesting and I've got him listed as a safety is Lamarcus Joyner from Florida State. He played corner. I think he's a little bit like Tyrann Mathieu in that he was a corner in college, but I think he's going to have to kick inside and either be a safety or a nickel or both and he's an explosive kid like Tyrann Mathieu.
Q. Your thoughts on picking that late for the Broncos, some of the best available defensive players?
MAYOCK: I think if you're talking at the back end at safety, a guy like Lamarcus Joyner from Florida State could be there and he's an explosive, quick switch athlete that can play safety or nickel. He played mostly corner at Florida State and he's got some special team ability, also.
Q. Obviously watching the Super Bowl, we see the new breed of cornerback but I think everyone was very impressed by Thomas and Cam Chandler, they seem to be the golden standard in the NFL of free safety and the strong safety. I was wondering if the Seahawks performance in the Super Bowl will change the way safeties are scouted at the Combine?
MAYOCK: It's interesting, I think it's already begun to change. I think that teams are looking for and more for that free safety that can cover, that has more range, that can possibly drop down and cover a slot without having to go to a nickel. I really like ‑‑ it's interesting. I used to think it had to be two safeties that were interchangeable, but what Seattle has really done is they have said, we are going to do our best to keep Earl Thomas deep because he's got great range and ball skills and then we are going to use a 330‑pound Cam Chandler like a linebacker that has safety speed and be an enforcer. They have got two distinct roles, and I think you're right, I think teams are trying to figure out what the best way to play the safety position is. The thing I love about Seattle, is they define what they want, long corners, they have got the big safety, you can't get enough edge rush, sometimes they have four defensive ends at the game at the same time in pass rush situations. I think if you put the same on to Seattle, you're exactly right, there are going to be more and more teams around the league that are using that as a blueprint.