With six days remaining until the 2017 NFL Draft, questions are multiplying and speculation is rampant about what teams will do and where some key players will fall on the final draft board.
Unlike most pundits, NFL Network's Mike Mayock doesn't do a mock draft. But he did tackle some key questions on his pre-draft conference call.
WHERE DOES REUBEN FOSTER STAND?
No draft prospect this year has been the subject of more character debate than Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster.
Last month, the focus was on an incident at an Indianapolis hospital that led to him being sent home early from the Combine. Now, speculation runs rampant about his stock declining further after what multiple reports described as a diluted urine sample from his Combine drug test.
Mayock said that the hospital altercation has been "wiped clean by almost every team" in pre-draft evaluations.
"I think that was way overdone, and the kid should not [have] been sent home. That's my opinion," Mayock said, "and most people in the league believe that."
Mayock does believe that the diluted sample would cause Foster to slide in the first round -- albeit "not all that far."
"I think he's a top-20 pick all day long in any draft," Mayock said. "Could he have been a top-10 pick? He still might be a top-10 pick."
HOW MUCH TALENT IS THERE AT RUNNING BACK?
Plenty, says Mayock, who believes there are 11 running backs worthy of being selected in the first three rounds.
Mayock lumps LSU's Leonard Fournette, Stanford's Christian McCaffrey, Florida State's Dalvin Cook and Oklahoma's Joe Mixon together as first-round-caliber backs. He did not expect McCaffrey to be available when the Broncos pick at No. 20, but feels that Cook might fall that far because of character issues.
Beyond that group, he sees Ohio State's Curtis Samuel, Oklahoma's Samaje Perine, Toledo's Kareem Hunt, BYU's Jamaal Williams, South Florida's Marlon Mack, Texas' D'Onta Foreman and San Diego State's Donnel Pumphrey as backs who could go in the first three rounds.
"I think there is depth. There is quality at the top end, and I think there is depth throughout [the draft]," Mayock said.
HOW COULD JABRILL PEPPERS FIT ON A TEAM?**
Peppers has the thump of a linebacker, the size of a safety and the open-field moves of a smooth punt returner. At Michigan, he handled all three duties well. But in the NFL, his size and skill set make him a "tweener," and some have questions about whether he can cover the athletic 240-pound tight ends he would be asked to handle.
"I think he's a first-round talent, but you better figure out in advance how you're going to use him," Mayock said. "I know [from] Day One he can be the best return specialist on your team. Don't underrate that. That's point number one.
"Point number two, you better have a plan for him on defense. And from my perspective, he's better closer to the line of scrimmage. There are certain players that just are. I think he's a starting strong safety that's better in the box. I think he can play nickel, especially teams that have 'big nickel' and 'little nickel.' I think he'll be your 'big nickel' all day long.
"The concern is whether or not he can match up and cover tight ends. Obviously he can from a speed perspective, but just from a size perspective, if you line him up on tight ends, [can he handle that position]? I know he can handle running backs.
"I think he's a first-round player, [but] you have to have a plan."
Mayock later added that he thought Peppers "made sense" for the Baltimore Ravens with the 16th pick.