NFL Network Draft Analyst Daniel Jeremiah answered questions for nearly two hours on Friday, previewing the NFL Scouting Combine (Feb. 27-March 1 on NFL Network) during a media conference call. As you might expect, he offered insight on which prospects could be a strong fit with various NFL clubs. Here's a look at the prospect-team connections Jeremiah made during the call.
The Cardinals had to commit too much personnel to pass protection last season, sacrificing route options for rookie QB Kyler Murray in the name of protection. That's not how Kliff Kingsbury wants to play, however, and Alabama's Jedrick Wills would be a plug-in starter at tackle or even guard to help in that regard. Arizona has plenty of needs, and the O-line remains one of them even after the re-signing of D.J. Humphries.
LSU LB Patrick Queen would be a home-run pick for the Ravens at No. 28 if he were available, but the likelihood is that he will be gone. Other possibilities for Baltimore, per Jeremiah, include Marlon Davidson of Auburn, an edge rusher in the more physical mold that the Ravens tend to go for. If the club were to trade back, Utah's Bradlee Anae could fit the bill in the second round.
The Browns hold the No. 10 selection and figure to be in play for an offensive tackle like Alabama's Jedrick Wills, who could play on either side of the line and be an excellent fit in Cleveland, as would USC's Austin Jackson, Jeremiah said. Georgia's Andrew Thomas wouldn't be as strong a scheme fit as Wills, but would nevertheless provide a definitive upgrade for a franchise that must protect a young quarterback in Baker Mayfield.
Alabama S Xavier McKinney is the top safety in the draft and would be a strong addition to the Cowboys with the No. 17 selection. "He's a great communicator," Jeremiah said. "... He's one of the draft's safest players and would be an unbelievably good fit in Dallas." In subsequent rounds, watch for Dallas to address the receiver position, particularly if the Cowboys can't hang onto free agent WR Amari Cooper. Dallas values run-after-catch ability in wide receivers, something either Florida's Van Jefferson or Ohio State's K.J. Hill could provide. "(Jefferson's) a really polished route runner with strong hands," Jeremiah said.
If the Lions are of a mind to trade down out of the No. 3 selection, they would be wise to drop no further than No. 6 or 7 in order to ensure landing an impact defensive player. It's a strategy that could land them a prime talent like Ohio State's Jeff Okudah, Clemson's Isaiah Simmons, Auburn's Derrick Brown, or South Carolina's Javon Kinlaw while still adding extra picks.
Jeremiah likes free agent Philip Rivers as a fit under center in Indy. If they're able to land the veteran QB in free agency, the Colts could use the No. 13 pick on a true game-changer such as CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs. A developmental QB or a defensive tackle such as Oklahoma's Neville Gallimore would make for a nice addition in Round 2.
Jeremiah believes Clemson hybrid LB Isaiah Simmons would bring fabulous value to the Jaguars with his versatility. Simmons brings an ability to stay on the field against various personnel groupings and adapt athletically to a variety of roles, not unlike the Chargers' Derwin James.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders could upgrade nicely at linebacker and wide receiver with their two first-round selections at Nos. 12 and 19. Second-year GM Mike Mayock would do well to land LSU LB Patrick Queen and a prime talent in a deep receiver class in Round 1. "With (WR) Jerry Jeudy you'll get more separation, more route polish, which fits Jon Gruden really well," Jeremiah said. "... With CeeDee Lamb, you'd get more of an outside guy with more physicality to run after the catch with him. He's a more contested-catch player."
New England Patriots
Jeremiah said three tight ends in the draft, Notre Dame's Cole Kmet, Dayton's Adam Trautman and Florida Atlantic's Harrison Bryant, would be nice options for the Patriots to address a need at a position that had long been a strength in New England prior to the 2019 season: tight end. Kmet is "not nearly as athletic as (Rob Gronkowski)," Jeremiah said, "but he's somebody with that big catch radius. He's tough to tackle." If the club chooses to wait until Day 2 to pick up a tight end, three other options include Cincinnati's Josiah Deguara, Charlie Taumoepeau of Portland State and Hunter Bryant of Washington.
New York Giants
The Giants' priority should be a franchise left tackle to protect last year's first-round QB selection in Daniel Jones, per the NFL Network draft guru. Jeremiah said an ideal option could be Louisville OT Mekhi Becton.
Alabama speedster Henry Ruggs would be a home-run first-round selection for the Eagles if available, providing the Philly offense with blazing speed on the order of Chiefs star WR Tyreek Hill, according to Jeremiah. LSU's Justin Jefferson could also work nicely in Philadelphia, providing a productive threat in the mold of Keenan Allen. Upgrading at defensive back would make sense for the Eagles on Day 2, perhaps with Clemson's A.J. Terrell, Damon Arnette of Ohio State, or Jeff Gladney of TCU. "(Gladney) shows some similarities to Denzel Ward," Jeremiah said. "Undersized, but really feisty, fluid and very aware."
Without a first-round selection -- Pittsburgh traded its top pick to the Dolphins for Minkah Fitzpatrick in September -- it's tough to assess what might be available for the Steelers when the club, barring a trade, turns in its first draft card at No. 49 overall. Florida pass rusher Jonathan Greenard would address one of several needs in Pittsburgh. "He has a nice get off. He's really good with his hands. He'll push and pull," Jeremiah said. "... He has some real twitch and he's real fluid. He can bend at the top of his rush." Other needs -- namely tight end and offensive line -- could be filled by Dayton TE Adam Trautman, FAU TE Harrison Bryant, Louisiana OL Robert Hunt or LSU OL Damien Lewis.