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NFL Network’s Mike Mayock talks Redskins draft

Almost the entire NFL community, yours truly included, is relocating to Indianapolis for a few days starting tomorrow for the NFL scouting combine. For Bruce Allen, Mike Shanahan and the Redskins’ new coaching staff, it’s their first chance to evaluate some prospects together live.

The NFL Network and are pulling out all the stops in televising the proceedings from Indy. And we reporters aren’t allowed into the workouts, so their access is going to have to suit us, too. One of the analysts you’ll hear from is Mike Mayock. He’s a former NFL player that’s now the network’s lead draft analyst. I like Mayock because he offers quality insight and doesn’t hesitate to challenge what seems to be the consensus about a player. (For example, he’s got Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant ranked as the third-best player in the draft, higher than most.)

Mayock made the teleconference round today and answered a few questions specific to the Redskins. He’s got the Redskins taking Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford, just like ESPN’s Mel Kiper used to before changing his pick to Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen.

I won’t abridge any of his answers because, well, that just isn’t in the spirit of draft gurus, is it?

On which position combination the Redskins would get the best value from with their first- and second-round picks:

"I think if you’re the Washington Redskins, the first decision you have to make is at the quarterback position. If you believe there’s a franchise quarterback that might be available at No. 4, that trumps all other needs, in my opinion. So if you think Sam Bradford is a franchise quarterback and that right shoulder is going to stand up medically, then I believe you’ve got to take Sam Bradford. Now, having said that, there’s a school of thought out there also that you better upgrade that offensive line before you draft the young quarterback or he may get killed. But I always go back to the franchise quarterback trumps everything. So if Bradford or Clausen in your opinion is the guy, I think you’ve got to take him at No. 4, and I think you’ve got to develop your young quarterback. And I believe when you come around there at No. 37, there’s going to be another-I’ve got seven offensive tackles and then a dropoff. And I believe six may go this year in that first round. But I think the seventh guy still may be out there and the sixth guy may still be out there. So franchise quarterback first, and then I think you’ve got to go get an offensive tackle.

On whether Bradford or Clausen is that "franchise" quarterback:

"I’ve done an awful lot of work on the quarterbacks the last couple of weeks and I’ve kind of evolved in my opinion of Bradford, and I do think that he’s a franchise quarterback, with the caveat being that he’s got to check out medically. I went back and watched a bunch of his game tapes from two years ago, including his two losses-the national championship game and the Texas game-and I needed to see him get hit more. I needed to see him be under some duress because two years ago, for the most part, he stood in a pocket that was beautiful with nobody around him and played pitch and catch and put 60 points a game up there. But in those games I just mentioned, he was under duress. He got hit. I thought in the Texas game he struggled a bit in the fourth quarter because he got hit an awful lot. I thought his accuracy went down a little bit. But bottom line, to me, I think Sam Bradford is a franchise quarterback and I think he is a top 10 player."

On whether the Redskins would draft Jimmy Clausen if Sam Bradford isn’t available at No. 4:

"My take on that is St. Louis (which has the first-overall pick) has to be looking at Bradford. They’ve been drafting high for several years now and have not taken and developed a quarterback. They really don’t have a quarterback in their building right now. So bottom line is St. Louis has the same decision-making process right now that Washington does. How much do we believe in Bradford, and how much do we believe in our medical reports about Bradford? Quite frankly, and I’ve said this before, franchise quarterbacks trump everything. It’s going to be hard to trump those two defensive tackles (Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy). You better be 100 percent convinced that Bradford’s your guy for the next 10 years because you’re going to be passing up an all-pro defensive tackle by doing so. That’s a long way of saying I do think Bradford will be there at No. 4.

"If he’s not, now you’ve got to evaluate Clausen and take it a step further. I don’t think he’s as polished or accurate as Bradford. I think he’s going to be a first-round quarterback. I don’t think he gets past, say, somewhere around 13 or 14 where San Francisco and Seattle come into play. I think it’s a little high for Jimmy Clausen at No. 4, given the questions regarding leadership and some of those intangibles."

On how he evaluates Mike Shanahan’s track record in the draft:

"He had a mixed bag. The Jay Cutler draft class [in 2006] might have been one of the best three or four draft classes in the last 10 years. I mean they got [TE Tony] Scheffler, [wideout] Brandon Marshall, they got a starting offensive lineman [C Chris Kuper], they drafted that [WR Domenik] Hixon kid that ended up with the Giants. They got [Pro Bowl DE Elvis] Dumervil in that class. That one class, to me, was phenomenal. Beyond that, I think there were some mixed results there."

On which running backs might suit Mike Shanahan’s preference for late-round backs:

"What he likes are those one-cut, downhill guys that are in that 200-215 pound range. Ben Tate from Auburn, 213 pounds. Charles Scott from LSU is a little bigger than that. Chris Brown from Oklahoma, he’s a 5-10, 205-pound tailback. Javarris James from Miami, 6-feet, 213. Those are some of the guys that he likes. And I’ll give you one smaller guy: Shawnbrey McNeal, who was a transfer from Miami to SMU. He’s only 5-10, 190 but real quick and catches the football extremely well."