How Jerod Mayo is approaching QB scouting at NFL Combine

How Jerod Mayo is approaching QB scouting at NFL Combine originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

INDIANAPOLIS -- The interviews with quarterback prospects may be brief this week, but there is always information for teams to glean from those interactions, Patriots coach Jerod Mayo said Wednesday.

His team was scheduled to meet with USC's Caleb Williams, UNC's Drake Maye and LSU's Jayden Daniels at the NFL Scouting Combine. And while the interviews are limited to 20 minutes per player, those 20 minutes provide teams an opportunity to read the person sitting in with them.

"Sometimes guys walk in, they just have a sense about them," Mayo said. "I don't know how to explain it. Swag, I guess? Do the young kids still say swag?

"They are short interviews, but at the same time, you can gain information as far as the confidence level. You'll watch a little bit of film, as far as the knowledge of the game. You can learn a lot about them."

Gauging a player's viability based on his combine performance can be a dangerous game. Especially at the quarterback position.

For every CJ Stroud -- who threw in Indy last year, impressed anyone who watched him, and ended up being named Offensive Rookie of the Year -- there are dozens whose sterile throwing sessions at Lucas Oil Stadium had no correlation to their pro performance.

Interviews can be similarly finicky.

Take the 2018 class of quarterbacks as an example. Two first-round quarterbacks. One bust. One success story. Neither had immaculate combine weeks.

Josh Rosen was viewed as combative and immature when posed hard questions during meetings with multiple teams. Meanwhile, Lamar Jackson wasn't viewed as a standout interviewer, either, but for different reasons.

"One of the worst interviews I've ever been a part of," one offensive coordinator said years later, remembering Jackson having some difficulty answering football questions thrown his way. "Shows you what I know."

What was difficult for some teams to take away from Jackson's interviews at the time was how he'd respond to game situations and elevate his teammates. Two MVP seasons later, Jackson should have all teams reconsidering what they look for in quarterbacks during this get-to-know-you week.

"The thing about quarterbacks for me," Mayo said, "(is that) everyone wants the big arm, the mobility, things like that. But I think it's important to get a good sense of what type of competitor they are, you know? Their toughness and things like that. Those are the things you really want to look for."

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That may be a tough trait to gauge this week since Williams, Maye and Daniels are all opting out of the opportunity to throw in front of scouts and coaches this week. But in order for the Patriots to help themselves make the best decision possible at the most important position in the sport, there will be plenty of conversations leading up to the draft with folks who have gotten to know the quarterbacks in this class well.

Even then, quarterback evaluators here this week know it's an imperfect science.

"Give me three years," said one AFC evaluator, "then I'll tell you who can play and who can't."

Unfortunately, the Patriots don't have that kind of time. Mayo knows the way in which his coaching tenure begins will depend largely on how his next quarterback performs.

He won't rush into a marriage at that spot. The Patriots have been open about saying that everything is on the table with the No. 3 overall pick. And they'll acknowledge that it could take a while before things look the way they want them to.

But that won't keep Mayo and scouting director Eliot Wolf from trying to acquire as much information as possible this week on the passers in this class.

"I don't want to call it a slow burn," Mayo said when asked about how long this rebuild may take. "Because we will be competitive. We will put a good team out there. Will we win a championship? I don't know. And I don't want to make those promises. But at the same time, I feel confident about our plan to really turn the ship around.

"Look, honestly, the way I think about this stuff? It's been done at a high level for what, 20 years? I would also say there's more than one way to skin a cat. It worked for coach (Bill Belichick). We'll see what works with Eliot and myself."