INDIANAPOLIS - With NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock stepping off the media podium Sunday at the NFL Scouting Combine, public opinion began to congeal around the edges. When it came to potential backup quarterbacks in the middle of the draft, Alabama's A.J. McCarron became a popular name.
"It's less about what I saw today," said Mayock, when asked if he saw any mid-rounders emerge after Sunday's quarterback workout.
But he liked how Mr. Katherine Webb threw it around Lucas Oil Stadium.
"The thing with Alabama quarterbacks is they kind of get grouped into, 'Oh, he's another game manager,'" Mayock said. "But this is a bigger kid. He's over 6-3, he's 220 pounds, he throws a bigger ball and he looked today like he was hanging out in the back yard. It was easy. It seemed like he didn't feel any pressure. The ball comes out nicely. I don't think he has a huge arm, but he's got a good arm and he's accurate."
Mayock says this quarterback class is still evolving, in large part because of the ACL injuries still being rehabbed by LSU's Zach Mettenberger and Georgia's Aaron Murray. He says Mettenberger could be a third or fourth rounder and Murray a fourth or fifth rounder. He calls Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas, a huge 6-6 man, "a wild card." Mayock loves his delivery but his lack of footwork scares him. He's got Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo as a second or third-round pick ("a very quick release") and Pittsburgh's Tom Savage is starting to get some run.
"He's been to three schools, so one knows about him," Mayock said of Savage. "But he's a big, strong kid with a live arm."
A second-round pick would just seem to be too pricey (and controversial) at quarterback. Plus, they could get another running back in the second like they did last year with NFL Rookie of the Year finalist Giovani Bernard. Bernard was the first running back to go at the top of the second round last year and Mayock says that's no shot at the backs.
"I think it's a pass-first league so you're seeing a lot of different draft picks moving up ahead," Mayock said. "But the back class this year is talented, deep, and you kind of have to filter through it to see who you like because there are a lot of different flavors there depending on what kind of offense you run."
But running back could be where the Bengals put some free-agent money. The Raiders' Darren McFadden had his best years under Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson when Jackson was running the offense in Oakland in 2010 and 2011 and it would probably be a bargain type of deal.
Another potential second-round pick could also be cornerback. Word is there aren't enough first-rounders to get to No. 24, but there are some guys that can help in the next tier.