The Haverford School alumnus and draft guru shared his perspective on passion, career, and the NFL Draft.
“My memories of Malvern aren’t so good,” NFL Network Draft expert Mike Mayock said in his speech at the 70th annual Father Son Banquet on April 11.
“I never beat Malvern in football. I was 0-4. Two of them were for the Inter-Ac Championship. Both games I had the ball in my hands last and threw interceptions,” he said. “I missed the one-and-one in double overtime to beat Malvern for the basketball Championship. They beat us in the third overtime.”
However, Mayock said he decided to send his son, Michael Jr., to the “winning side.” Michael Jr. graduated from Malvern in 2009 and went on to play football at Villanova University.
Mayock grew up in the Philadelphia Area and knew he wanted to get involved in athletics from a young age.
“I don’t care if you’re into the arts, if you’re an engineer, an athlete, an entrepreneur. I don’t care what your passion is. I do know that you need to feed that flame,” Mayock said. “You have to recognize the feeling within you that I love something.”
“I can’t live without that one thing, and for me, it was athletics,” he said.
Mayock said he went on a recruiting visit to Penn State when he was a junior in high school. When he got back to Haverford, an administrator told him that he would never make the NFL or work in professional sports.
Mayock was crushed and told his father what the administrator said. Mayock’s father was not pleased and let the administrator know that.
“I had [my father] as an eighth grade math teacher. I [also] had him as a high school football coach for four years,” Mayock said. “I thought he stood for all the right things as a man. I think more than anyone else, he was my role model.”
Mayock decided to continue his athletic and academic careers as Boston College. There, he was the captain of both the football and baseball teams.
Four years later, Mayock was drafted in the tenth round by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mayock wanted to make the most of his opportunity and knew lasting impressions were important. He decided he would be the first in line in all the drills. However, starter Donnie Shell and future Hall of Famer Mel Blount would always beat him to the front of the line.
Mayock was cut by the Steelers before the start of the season, but he eventually made the New York Giants’ roster. As a rookie on the team, his job was to hit Hall of Fame Linebacker Lawrence Taylor in the ribs every time he started to snore when the team watched film.
Injuries eventually caught up to Mayock and he ended his professional career after only a few seasons. He then went into commercial real estate but soon missed the game of football, so he got involved in high school football from the broadcasting side.
Mayock still wasn’t entirely happy with his career, and it became clear he needed to try something else.
Mayock spoke at a football banquet and talked about the importance of passion. On the car ride home, his then ten-year-old son, who would eventually attend Malvern, called him a hypocrite for not fully following his passion for football.
“He looked at me with the innocence of a ten or eleven year old and was like, ‘No, no, no, no Dad. You’re not practicing what you preach.’ And it made more than I think he knew or I knew at the time,” Mayock said.
One year later, Mayock quit his real estate job and pursued his passion. For six months, he looked for football jobs and didn’t find anything permanent.
“All of a sudden this thing called the NFL Network came along,” Mayock said. “Another six months later, long story short, I auditioned for it. There were a bunch of way bigger named than me, but they offered me a job being their quote ‘Draft Guy.’”
Mayock did not immediately take the job.
“I told them I didn’t want it,” he said. “What kind of future is that, to be the draft guy or college guy at the NFL Network?”
However, Mayock realized it was the right job for him and he took the job.
Mayock’s first phone call as NFL Network’s “Draft Guy” was to New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick. Mayock said he told Belichick, “Coach I need help. I’ve never watched tape to evaluate prospects before.”
Belichick told him that he would talk to him every Saturday, while the Patriots were in season, for at least an hour to help him. “I got this unbelievable education from maybe one of the best that ever lived,” Mayock said.
Belichick was so willing to help Mayock because he remembered the impression Mayock left on him when Belichick was on the Giant’s coaching staff.
“You never know what kind of impression you’re going to leave,” Mayock said. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re in high school, college, grade school. People of influence someday can help you.”
Today, Mayock enjoys working around “football people,” and his work is used by all the teams in the league as well as NFL fans.
His process for evaluating starts in the summer before a player’s senior year. Mayock gets a list from NFL teams of college players and how they preliminarily view them. He starts watching film and develops an understanding of where players are before their senior season.
During or after the season, Mayock will watch two to three game films per player from their last season. He watches the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine, and Pro Days and then wraps up his final evaluations in the weeks leading up to the draft.
Next Mayock sends a “seven round stack,” or final ranking of all the players in the draft. He talks with general managers and coaches from teams about why he has players ranked where he does. Many teams use his rankings to show where the rest of the league views players compared to their own ranking.
“On Draft Day, the way I look at it, my job is to be the general manager of all 32 teams and try to help the guy at home have a better understanding of why a pick was made,” he said.