Mayock: I'd take Monroe No. 1
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said in a conference call Wednesday, if he was running the Lions he'd take Virginia offensive tackle Eugene Monroe No. 1 overall.
The way I look at the quarterback position is it's the most important position in the NFL, Mayock said. But you better make sure you're going to bang the table and believe in the guy if you're going to take him in the top 10 like I did with Matt Ryan a year ago. He was my No. 1 guy the whole year for a reason. I don't feel the same way about (Matt) Stafford, so if I'm the Lions I take Eugene Monroe and I worry about the quarterback position either at No. 20, trading up from 20, next year, whatever. But me personally, I couldn't afford to take a shot at No. 1 where if I'm wrong I think I set the franchise back another five years.
Mayock said he prefers Monroe to Baylor's Jason Smith because Monroe is a better pass blocker.
Best feet of any tackle in the draft, he said. His feet remind me of Joe Thomas, and in the NFL the one thing I've learned is that your run blocking's not as big a deal, you better protect your quarterback, and I think Monroe's the best pass-protection left tackle in this draft.
The Lions have welcomed both Monroe and Smith, plus Stafford and Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry, in for visits in recent weeks. Smith is considered a hair better prospect than Monroe by most analysts, and there's some debate whether his more physical style better suits the Lions' new get-big philosophy. Regardless, both are expected to be top-five picks.
As for quarterbacks, Mayock has USC's Mark Sanchez rated No. 1 at the position, but he said Stafford, Sanchez and Kansas State's Josh Freeman are all worthy of first-round picks.
I've been very positive of all three of them and I like all three of them, but I wouldn't bang the table for any of them like I did for Matt Ryan last year, Mayock said. Matt Ryan was my No. 1 guy on the board all year long. But amongst those three, Freeman reminds me of Joe Flacco both on and off the field, and I think if I had to pull the trigger in a top-10 pick with a quarterback I would take Sanchez because I would feel like his floor is higher than the other guys.