While NFL scouts and GMs maintain that not many prospects make a noteworthy jump up their draft boards during the pre-draft process, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock believes it can happen particularly at the quarterback position. And he has one specific signal caller that he believes can make such a move.
Mayock has been open in sharing his belief that the quarterback position has holes in this year's draft class. There are no clear cut favorites or sure fire top 10 pick. Part of the problem is there aren't any quarterbacks in this class, in his estimation, who maintain their level of performance when the going gets tough.
The NFL Network draft analyst used Oklahoma QB Landry Jones as just one example.
"There is a lack of consistency where you want to bang the table and say I love this kid," Mayock said. "He's smart, I think he cares. When protection breaks down and he's got to get to his second and third read the mechanics start to break down, and it's not really good. And that is the case with a lot of these kids. When I look at Landry Jones, I've got him as my number five quarterback, and I'm holding my breath on that one a little bit."
On Mayock's top five quarterback list he has Geno Smith and Matt Barkley at the top and has first round grades on both. He thinks both could go higher than he expects, but feels their value is somewhere between pick 20 and 32 in round one.
That leaves a very foggy picture of talent at the position after that. When that happens it often forces NFL scouts and front office talent evaluators back to the game tape. They know they're not going to discover some previously untold ability in one of the remaining quarterbacks. Instead they're trying to find of the signal callers that are left, which one has the greatest degree of the most attractive qualities needed to succeed at the NFL level.
"At this time last year I was telling people that I thought Ryan Tannehill was going to end up being a top 10 pick, and people laughed at me," said Mayock. "He ended up going eighth. That's because during the process, if a quarterback shows a live arm, and some intelligence, work ethic, and toughness, all those kind of things, as coaches get involved with the process with the personnel people, it can push quarterbacks higher."
Mayock believes there's one prospect with a skill set that caters to making a rise up the board similar to that of Tannehill last year.
"This group, the way I categorize this group is that there is nobody ‑‑ there is not even one guy you would bang the table for in the first round," he said. "But then there are a whole bunch of guys after that where you're saying how do they fit and how much do I trust them?
"Ryan Nassib is the guy that people are going to like a lot. He kind of reminds me a little bit of the ascension of Kurt Cousins last year, and the ascension of Andy Dalton the year before that. They were smart, tough and the more the coaches get involved, they see the kid's work ethic and how much he understands of the game, they're going to start to trust him. And with coaches, trust is a big thing and teams are going to trust Ryan Nassib.
"He'll get on the board, and talk games, and talk fast protections, and coaches are going to really like Ryan Nassib. He's got good, physical attributes, not great but good, physical attributes and all the intangibles, toughness, intelligence, and work ethic. He's going to start to quietly climb boards between the Combine and the draft. Outside of him, it's going to be hard to figure."
Mayock didn't say how high he thinks Nassib could rise, but knowing he has him as his fourth quarterback in his top five it would seem possible that Nassib could move to the top of round two or perhaps even the bottom of round one.
Outside of Nassib, Mayock believes there could be one other prospect that could move up the board, but it's a quarterback that may still give teams pause.
"Mike Glennon of North Carolina State has arm talent, but he takes too long to deliver the football. He makes bad decisions. He makes bad throws, but the arm talent is there," said Mayock. "So during this process, are people going to fall in love with him?"
Mayock also mentioned a middle-round quarterback that could move up a round.
"I think teams are going to trust Sean Renfree from Duke who is off some teams' boards," he said. "He might be a fifth round pick, but he's got a work ethic like a Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan.* *He does not have big arm talent, but his anticipation and accuracy are outstanding. I think he's going to be a fifth round guy that's going to surprise people."
The lengths to which a team might go to secure the third quarterback in the draft once Barkley and Smith are off the board remains to be seen, but in a pool of candidates with questions the safest option left as Mayock sees it appears to be Nassib.