MMQB Mail: Ten nuggets on draft
NFL draft expert Mike Mayock shares some insight on prospects
The truth behind how the players get paid for preseason, regular season
Questions on Terrell Owens, Pat Bowlen, David Garrard and more
Eighteen short days until the draft, so it's time for yours truly to start devoting days and nights to draft education. I started with a conversation with Mike Mayock of NFL Network, a guy I like a lot because he's blunt and not afraid to be wrong. If you're afraid to be wrong in the draft business, you'll be mealy mouthed. That's not Mayock.
Ten Nuggets Mined From Mayock
1. "This is by far the worst year for the top 10 that I've seen. Down around 18, 20, you'll get every bit the player you'll get in the top 10 for a third of the price.''
2. His gut feeling is Detroit's taking Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford with the first pick of the draft.
3. "I can't bang the table for Stafford the way I did for Matt Ryan last year. I don't see an elite player in him every time I watch, which you need to see if you're taking a quarterback that high.''
4. Mayock, if he had his choice of first-round picks for talent and value, would be around 22. "The value in this draft is at 15 and beyond.''
5. He says eight or nine tight ends will be drafted in the first three rounds. He loves the best of the bunch, Oklahoma State's Brandon Pettigrew. (I'd love to see the Bills land him, by the way. Perfect offensive weapon for a coordinator, Turk Schonert, who loves to use the tight end.)
6. He likes Eugene Monroe over Jason Smith, if you're picking a franchise tackle. "Smith's got a better upside. Very aggressive. But Monroe's got the best feet in the draft. He's a really accomplished technician.''
7. He thinks Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry -- who Detroit would play at middle linebacker if the Lions made him the first pick of the draft -- would be optimally used at strongside linebacker in the 4-3 because he can cover, he can play physically over the tight end, and he's got upside pass-rushing ability.
8. He's scared of Brian Orakpo, the Texas defensive end who's the apple of a few teams' eyes in the top half of the first round. "Buyer beware,'' Mayock said. "He's boom or bust. I don't know if he's DeMarcus Ware or Vernon Gholston. I've seen him have some really good games, and I've seen what I considered to be Brandon Pettigrew tearing him apart. The point is, I don't see it all the time from Orakpo, which concerns me.''
9. Of the elite quarterbacks, he likes USC's Mark Sanchez the best. "He's the most ready made for the pro game right now.''
10. If you need a cornerback in this draft, sit it out. There are no corners even well above average, never mind great.
A year ago, Mayock told me he liked Ryan, who played four years at Boston College, more than he'd liked any quarterback to come out in years. Not the case with the three early entry passers this year -- Stafford, Sanchez and Kansas State's Josh Freeman. "In the last 15 years, there have been 11 underclass quarterbacks taken in the first round,'' he said. "Of those 11, Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers are the only clear successes. It's a dangerous thing, picking young quarterbacks so high.''
Now onto your e-mail for the week:
JUST WHO LIKES THE 18-GAME SCHEDULE ANYWAY? From James, of Scottsdale, Ariz.: "Absolutely LOVED Adalius Thomas' response to the 18-game schedule. As much as I want to watch more meaningful football, I don't want these guys getting hurt and putting their family's well-being and their own in jeopardy because Roger Goodell and the owners want to make more money. But Peter, I'm confused. Don't the players' contracts get paid over a 20-game period, regardless of whether it's preseason or regular? Or do they just get paid for 16 games? And if so, how does the pay for the preseason games work then?''
Players are paid their salary in 17 game checks starting the first week of the regular season. In the preseason, veteran players get $1,425 per preseason game week -- $1,225 for the practice week, plus $200 per game. The league will say the players are getting 60 percent of the adjusted gross revenue, regardless of how and when it's paid. That's true, but the point players will make if the schedule's expanded to 17 games is a simple one: I'm playing 60 more plays, and I don't care what the accountants say -- I want one-seventeenth more money than I was making to play 16 games.
NFL Truth & Rumors