As one would expect, NFL.com draft expert Mike Mayock is enamored with Saquon Barkley. On a Monday conference call, Mayock called the Penn State running back a “transformational” player who might be a better prospect than Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott.
But Mayock’s chat with the media wasn’t all about Barkley. He showed some love to a few more Nittany Lions, too.
Mayock raved about DaeSean Hamilton, complimented Jason Cabinda, broke down Marcus Allen and more.
Here’s what Mayock had to say about every Penn State prospect not named Saquon Barkley:
Penn State’s all-time leader in receptions jumped up NFL draft boards in a short period of time.
Hamilton — a seasoned 6-foot-1, 205-pound wideout — earned an invite to the Senior Bowl following a stellar showing during the East-West Shrine practices and game. He took advantage of that opportunity, too, burning corners enough times to have reporters tweet out video after video of Hamilton.
Mayock noticed, as well.
“In a 14-day period with the East-West Game and the Senior Bowl, he helped himself as much as anybody in the country,” the analyst said. “I thought he got better every day, which says a lot, and coaches love that — the ability to process information and then execute it on the field the next day. The East-West Game helped him, and then he came down to the Senior Bowl.
“He went from kind of a third-day afterthought to someone who’s now potentially a third-round pick.”
Gesicki, who was also at the Senior Bowl, fits in with a healthy group of pass-catching tight ends.
Gesicki, Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews, South Dakota State’s Dallas Goedert and Wisconsin’s Troy Fumagalli should find themselves going in the second, third or fourth rounds, per Mayock.
“I don’t think any of them are going in the first round,” Mayock added. “They’re all kind of matchup tight ends. Think of Zach Ertz in Philadelphia as an example.”
Gesicki (1,481 receiving yards, 15 touchdowns) actually compares favorably to Ertz (1,434 yards, 15 scores).
The Stanford product was a second-round selection in 2013, and Gesicki — Mayock’s third-ranked tight end — could be the same.
Allen has consistently received mixed reviews from scouts, dating back to last offseason when he was a junior weighing his options.
Count Mayock in his corner.
“I think he’s a starting safety in the NFL,” the analyst said.
That doesn’t mean Allen is free of flaws. Mayock noted, “The more athletic the game gets, the more he’s going to struggle.”
But Allen — who finished No. 5 all-time on Penn State’s tackles chart with 321 stops — is a worthwhile prospect.
“Marcus Allen is great in the box,” Mayock said. “He’ll strike you, get after people in the run game. He’s got some range in the pass game, and I think he can cover running backs and tight ends.”
Mayock said Cabinda — the heartbeat of Penn State’s defense for years — is “not as naturally gifted as some of those linebackers who’ll run a 4.5 at the Combine.”
But after watching the linebacker up close at the East-West Shrine Game, the draft expert came away impressed.
“After every snap that he came off the field, he went right up to the defensive coordinator and had a conversation,” Mayock said. “He’s a true pro. He comes prepared to play. I think he’s a two-down player with some physical limitations who can make a living on special teams.”
According to his NFL.com profile, Cabinda is a projected seventh-round selection or priority free agent.
ESPN’s Steve Muench told the CDT in January that Campbell was a “fringe third-round” pick. But Mayock believes the one-year starting cornerback has something to prove at this weekend’s NFL Combine.
“He has to run well,” Mayock said. “That’s kind of the question on him.”
Campbell — a sixth- or seventh-round selection, according to his NFL.com profile — is “a long press corner, not as good off.” Mayock believes a team that takes him has to play a lot of press coverage.
Even though Campbell has garnered more attention than his corner counterpart, Haley is being wrongfully overlooked, per Mayock.
“I like Haley maybe even better (than Campbell) because I think he can play nickel,” the analyst said. “Even though he won’t test well, I like Haley a lot. He’s a guy who’s going to come in and compete, play nickel and be a better football player than people think.
“I’d love to see Haley sneak in a good time, too, because he’s a good football player.”
Apke — a senior starter who earned MVP at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl — was somewhat of a surprise invite to the NFL Combine.
But Mayock believes the safety will test well in Indianapolis.
“He’s a guy who I think is going to run fast,” Mayock said. “I think he can play special teams for a period of time to earn himself time to learn how to play the safety position. I think he can also play some dime linebacker.
“I think Apke has value as a late third-day pick.”