It’s becoming an anticipated event, much like the NFL Draft itself.
Whenever NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock talks, people tend to listen, and, they tend to tweet the most notable opinions from the respected draft evaluator.
Such was the case on Thursday when Mayock answered questions for more than an hour on this year’s top prospects. Fans, too, participated in the live call for the first time ever. They were able to submit questions via Twitter.
Mayock had an answer on every question he was asked. There was no use trying to stump him.
People might say this year’s draft class is not full of star power, Mayock believes there is talent across the board.
“This is a draft where people are complaining it’s not sexy at the top, but there is more depth in this draft than I’ve seen in a while,” he said.
Mayock spoke in depth on just about every position group, except for kickers and punters.
On the topic of tight ends, Mayock said Notre Dame prospect Tyler Eifert had distinguished himself as the top player in the position group. Although Stanford’s Zach Ertz worked out at the 49ers local pro day, he ranks No. 2 on Mayock’s list of tight ends available in this year’s draft.
Mayock, however, mentioned Ertz as a potential 49ers draft pick with either the team’s No. 31 or No. 34 overall selections.
“Ertz may be interesting to the 49ers,” the NFL Network analyst said.
According to Mayock, Eifert could draw interest as early as pick No. 13 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Mayock also added that Cincinnati tight end Travis Kelce is the best blocker in this year’s tight end class.
Another potential draft target for San Francisco could be at the safety position. With the 49ers comfortable with their safety depth, but not ruling out adding to the group, Mayock believes Florida International prospect Jonathan Cyprien will be an early second-round selection.
It’s important to note because San Francisco holds the second pick of the second round (No. 34 overall) following the trade of Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Another safety that intrigued Mayock was Louisiana State prospect Eric Reid. Mayock broke out a catch-phrase the LSU safety, he called him one of the “wild cards” of this year’s draft. Mayock wasn’t able to peg Reid into a particular round of the draft. Mayock believes Reid could go anywhere between the first-to-third rounds of the draft.
As for Florida safety Matt Elam, Mayock felt like the only downside was Elam’s 5-foot-10 height.
“Positive side, kid that tackles, tough, cares,” Mayock said of the Gator prospect. “I think he plays a lot of years.”
Lastly, Mayock was asked about a son of a former 49ers safety, USC prospect T.J. McDonald, son of Tim McDonald. The NFL analyst used his “wild card” phrase to describe McDonald and guessed the Trojan defensive back would be a fourth-round selection.
“He’s a tough kid, but has some stiffness in coverage and in his ability to cover,” Mayock said.
The 49ers used a first-round pick on a wide receiver last season, but could add to the group with a number of prospects available in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Mayock loves the receivers this year.
“There’s a lot of depth in this wide receiver class,” he said.
One prospect Bay Area fans know all about, California wideout Keenan Allen, might slide in the draft according to Mayock. Allen was also compared to new 49ers wide receiver
Another receiver who could slide is Tennessee prospect Cordarrelle Patterson. Mayock called the Volunteer receiver as “one of the most exciting players” in the draft. Perhaps he could be an option for the 49ers should he slide to pick No. 31.
The depth at the position, however, could allow the 49ers to find a new receiver later on.
Mayock noted that Clemson wideout DeAndre Hopkins and USC wideout Robert Woods will be drafted by the middle of the second round if not sooner.
“They’re two of my favorite route-runners in this year’s draft,” Mayock said of Hopkins and Woods.
With unprecedented depth in this year’s draft class and a talented roster coming off a Super Bowl appearance, the 49ers stand poised to be selective in adding the right players to their system.
General Manager Trent Baalke noted that the team sets its draft board based on the systems ran on offense, defense and special teams.
So while analysts like Mayock have their personal favorites at various positions, the true value will come from the players the 49ers want to bring into the locker room in 2013.