NFL Network’s Mayock: Foster one of draft’s best, QBs shouldn’t go in round one

Apr 4, 2017, 11:23 AM | Updated: 3:23 pm
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LISTEN: Mike Mayock, NFL Network analyst

The Arizona Cardinals could go all sorts of directions with their first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

A team with no obvious needs but many positions that could use an upgrade or understudy, the Cardinals have been linked to a good many prospects as we get closer and closer to decision time.

“I think the most important thing at 13 is to get an impact player,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday. “And I think it’s less about the position and more about who’s the best player there at 13.”

Of course, the label of “best player” varies from team to team and draft board to draft board, with positional need always factoring into the rankings.

Mayock, who has been attending pro days and getting closer looks at prospects, has had a chance to learn more about many of the prospects who have been associated with the Cardinals.

On Monday, it was reported that Arizona was meeting with Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster.

“I think Reuben Foster is the best inside linebacker I’ve seen since Luke Kuechly, and I don’t say that lightly because I’m a [Boston College] guy and I really love Luke Kuechly. So you’ve got to figure Reuben Foster out, the person.”

One of the best prospects in the draft, a red flag went up for Foster after he was essentially kicked out of the NFL Scouting Combine following an incident during his medical examination. That is about the only issue with Foster, who racked up 115 tackles for the Crimson Tide last season and earned numerous accolades.

“On the field his tape is unbelievable — I love watching him play,” Mayock added.

Mayock said Foster is an interesting proposition because if he was asked to pick the five best players in the entire draft class, the linebacker would be one of them. He would not put any of 2017’s quarterbacks in that group, however.

“I don’t see a quarterback in this class that I would say is a first-round quarterback,” he said, adding that the qualifier is that he thinks there are some who have first-round talent.

“But I don’t think any of them are ready to play,” said.

Despite there being doubts about this year’s quarterbacks, the possibility of the Cardinals snagging one remains high. Neither head coach Bruce Arians nor GM Steve Keim have been bashful about their interest in finding an heir to incumbent Carson Palmer, and it’s very likely a few of the better options will be there when Arizona is on the clock.

But while Mayock was excited about Carson Wentz last season, he said this year there isn’t any passer he would really stump for.

“There’s four or five guys — and I think what it’s going to come down to is individual preferences by team — and how strongly the kid comes off in the interviews and on the board and watching film,” he said. “I think it’s going to be more about that kind of stuff than it’s just about the tape.”

Mayock is actually a fan of Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, and said he has had a chance to meet all five of the top quarterbacks over the last month. So his opinions of Watson, DeShone Kizer, Mitchell Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes and Davis Webb have been formed by more than just watching them play.

The analyst said he could go on about what he likes and does not like about each player, but instead thinks of something he heard from someone in the league he respects.

“He said, ‘You know what, Mike, I agree with you 100 percent, and if the draft started at pick No. 33 for quarterbacks this year I think we’d all be happy,'” Mayock said.

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NFL Network’s Mayock: Foster one of draft’s best, QBs shouldn’t go in round one