CHICAGO - Mike Mayock doesn't know what Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan will do with the sixth overall pick in Thursday's draft, but the veteran NFL Network analyst knows what he would do if he had the choice.
"What my gut tells me they should do is they ought to be looking into Marcus Mariota," Mayock said of the Oregon quarterback, who figures to go either first or second overall. "They need a quarterback."
Mayock suggested the Jets ought to strongly consider packaging defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, who is in the final year of his contract, and make a dramatic move up the board to get Mariota.
"If I were them, I'd be looking at that whole Muhammad Wilkerson, plus a pick or two, and move up," Mayock said at a pre-draft luncheon. ESPN reported on Tuesday that the Jets have received inquiries about Muhammad, who is looking for a new contract before the 2015 season.
There has been plenty of speculation that Maccagnan will lean toward the defense - and specifically at pass rusher - if they keep the pick. But Mayock said Mariota is too good a prospect not to at least make an attempt to move up and get.
"I think their defense is better than people think," Mayock said. "The [secondary] gave up big plays last year. But they fixed the back end [through free agency by signing Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine and Marcus Gilchrist]. Their defense is pretty good, especially with Todd Bowles there."
Mayock weighed in on several other draft-related issues:
· Mayock prefers Mariota over Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, but understands why the Bucs are apparently leaning toward Winston with the No. 1 overall pick. Tampa Bay is also considering whether to trade the pick if the Bucs get a big enough package of picks and/or players in return. "I think Jameis Winston makes sense from a scheme perspective in Tampa Bay. They have the two big outside receivers [Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson]. They want to play jump ball outside the numbers. They got a big, strong-armed guy like Winston that can do that. So I understand the pick. However, my pick - and I'm just talking about the No. 1 quarterback in the draft generically - would be Marcus Mariota, because I trust him, both on and off the field.
· Mayock thinks West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White, who is a top 10 prospect, might be overrated. "You talk about height, weight, speed. He's the prototype of all that. He's 6-3, 212 pounds, he ran fast [at the scouting combine]. The concerns teams have is why was he a one-year wonder [at West Virginia in 2014]? One big year, but where was he before, during and after [his time at junior college] Lackawanna? The plus side is he's a good kid, he's willing to work hard. His tape is outstanding and he's a matchup nightmare. I think he's a top 10 pick. But over the years, you'd be amazed at how many one-hit wonders [in college]struck out in the NFL at the wide receiver position."
· Mayock has his doubts at Missouri defensive end Shane Ray, who was given a citation for marijuana possession on Monday. Ray apologized for what he said was a mistake. "I'm not sure if Shane Ray can say anything to a general manager. He's got a potential foot injury, and now he just made a really bad decision the week before the biggest day of his life. So you have to question the decision-making on top of it."
· The two spots to watch for trades are at No. 2 [Tennessee] and No. 5 [Washington], according to Mayock. "The two pressure points are 2 and 5. What happens at 2, how far up can some of these teams get? I think somebody's got to pull the trigger there. That's my first gut, is that somebody's going to pull the trigger to get up to 2. If [Mariota] gets to 5, then it brings other teams in. Perhaps Philadelphia or San Diego or some of those other teams."
Mayock doesn't suspect that Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly will be able to move up from No. 20 to get Mariota, whom he recruited at Oregon. "I think it's difficult to get from 20 to 2 without the help of a third party in a trade."