With the NFL Draft mere weeks away, NFL teams are going to start lying to people. They will lie about their interest in this player, their lack of interest in that player, and their apparent lack of knowledge on another. They will lie so often in the next few weeks that it will almost become a language. That is why it is important for the casual observer to cut out the noise as best they can, and soak up content from trusted sources.
One such source, in my opinion, is Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks on Twitter). Jeremiah is a draft analyst for the NFL Network. He is also a former scout for the Ravens, Browns, and Eagles. He has, according to Evan Silva, been offered numerous GM positions in the NFL, but he seems content with where he is currently. Jeremiah speaks to people around the NFL, and through these connections, he is able to provide informed content. This is why his latest first-round mock draft is one that should be viewed with great interest.
Here, we will take a look at the skill position players mentioned by Jeremiah. We will examine the possible team fit based on each prospect’s the advanced stats and metrics player profiles. Let’s start with the first overall pick, currently held by the Arizona Cardinals.
Pick 1 – Arizona Cardinals, Kyler Murray, Quarterback
It’s hard to look at what the Cardinals did at quarterback a year ago and not scratch your head repeatedly. They signed Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon in free agency, then spent the 10th overall selection on Josh Rosen.
After an agonizing first two games with Bradford, they finally inserted Rosen into the lineup. They saw him finish 36th in the NFL in adjusted yards per attempt with 4.3. This was no small part to their surrounding him with the No.32 Supporting Cast (-16.85) and protecting him at the 36th best rate (75.3%) in the NFL. So obviously this is all Rosen’s fault, and that’s why the team is set to take Kyler Murray with this pick.
Murray is far from the prototypical size for an NFL quarterback. But he comes into the pros on the back of a season that saw him win the Heisman Trophy as the successor to Baker Mayfield for the Oklahoma Sooners. His College QBR of 95.8 is in the 100th percentile, while his YPA of 11.6 is in the 99th. Don’t worry about his size, or lack thereof, as it really doesn’t matter.
Pick 6 – New York Giants, Dwayne Haskins, Quarterback
Despite their dedication to the concept of #MEGA (Make Eli Great Again), the New York Giants really need to reset their entire franchise, and that starts at the quarterback position. Eli Manning has not been good for a long time, and his realization of this fact cost Ben McAdoo his job as head coach in 2017.
Dwayne Haskins enjoyed a sensational 2018 campaign with Ohio State, with a 50:8 TD: INT ration backed by his 92nd percentile college QBR. His closest comparable player on PlayerProfiler is Jameis Winston. If we go by on-field production, this is certainly a positive comp. If the Giants were to take him here, I would highly doubt he’d be starting by Week 1. Got to keep Eli happy for as long as possible, after all. #MEGA
Pick 9 – Buffalo Bills, D.K. Metcalf, Wide Receiver
Oh sweet lord, this fit just makes so much sense. Blessed with a cannon for a right arm, Bills quarterback Josh Allen just flat out loves to throw the ball deep. He averaged 5.4 deep ball attempts per game in his 12 2018 outings. This rate was exceeded by only Patrick Mahomes and Joe Flacco (both averaged 5.7 per game). Allen finished 32nd among quarterbacks with 2074 passing yards but was 22nd in Pass Attempt Target Distance with 3485. He wants to throw the ball deep!
Drafting D.K. Metcalf would certainly go a long way towards helping Allen in this regard. Metcalf wowed viewers at the NFL Scouting Combine with his 4.33 40-yard dash and 99th percentile Speed Score of 133.3. This, in concert with his College Yards per Reception mark of 21.9 and his 10.27 Catch Radius made him the undisputed winner of the Combine, as well as an ideal foil for Allen. Granted, his College Dominator rating could be better, sitting as it does in the 58th percentile. Plus the less said about Metcalf’s agility the better. But this move just seems fun.
Of course, the Bills signing John Brown in free agency bursts the bubble ever so slightly. But still…
Pick 12 – Green Bay Packers, Noah Fant, Tight End
Noah Fant was the biggest tight end winner from the NFL Scouting Combine, after a dazzling day working out for the NFL talent evaluators. Fant posted 96th percentile numbers across all the major workout metrics, highlighted by his 99th percentile 40-yard dash time of 4.50.
The tight end spot was something of a graveyard for the Packers under Mike McCarthy. Packer tight ends have combined for the 7th fewest receptions (391) and receiving yards (4127) since 2013. They are tied for the 5th fewest touchdowns with 29. Fant’s closest comparable player is another former Iowa tight end, namely George Kittle. I’m sure the Packers would welcome a rookie season from Fant similar to Kittle’s. While they’d snap your hand off for his second year.
Pick 15 – Washington, Drew Lock, Quarterback
The Washington quarterback carousel continues to turn. The teams acquiring Case Keenum shouldn’t be enough to bring it to a stop. Keenum served as a bridge quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams after they drafted Jared Goff in 2016, and Jeremiah clearly sees him fulfilling a similar role here.
With Murry and Haskins already off the board, Drew Lock is the choice for Washington here. He managed to improve his accuracy in each season he played at Missouri while finishing with a 99:39 TD: INT ratio. His YPA and College QBR are not great, though far from terrible. He showed impressive speed with a 4.69 40-yard dash (83rd percentile). But a player whose closest comp is Brett Hundley doesn’t exactly inspire a great deal of confidence in me.
Pick 17 – Cleveland Browns, Marquise Brown, Wide Receiver
Baker Mayfield‘s successful rookie season vindicated the Browns choosing him with the first overall selection last April. Now, their job is to surround him with as many weapons as they can, as they look to continue on their long road back to relevance. And who better to be included in this cabal of weapons than a former teammate of Mayfield’s, namely Marquise Brown?
Brown has put together back to back 1000 yard seasons for the Sooners. He followed up his 1095 with Mayfield in 2017 with 1318 serving Murray last year. His 17.6 YPR is good for a place in the 83rd percentile. Plus it hints at a significant upgrade over the Browns current field stretcher Antonio Callaway. Callaway managed 13.4 YPR as a rookie while delivering an 8.6 percent drop rate. Brown’s late breakout age of 21.3 can be partially explained away by his playing a season at the College of the Canyons in 2016. He managed 50 receptions for 754 yards with the Cougars.
Pick 22 – Baltimore Ravens, Parris Campbell, Wide Receiver
The Baltimore Ravens are one of Jeremiah’s former teams. They currently own one of the most depressing wide receiver depth charts in the entire NFL. I mean, I like Willie Snead, but if he’s your number one wideout, you have a few issues with your roster.
It took until his fourth season with Ohio State for Parris Campbell to breakout. While his final numbers with the Buckeyes in 2018 were not eye-popping (90 receptions for 1063 yards) they were enough to begin attracting attention. This attention escalated after his day at Indianapolis when he dropped a 40-yard dash time of 4.31. This placed him in the 100th percentile among wide receivers. Jeremiah expects the Ravens “to build a track team around Lamar Jackson“. Campbell certainly fits the bill.
Pick 23 – Houston Texans, T.J. Hockenson, Tight End
Like the Green Bay Packers, the Houston Texans have not unable to find a truly productive tight end in recent years. Since Bill O’Brien became their head coach in 2014, they’ve had the 6th fewest tight end receptions with 302 and the seventh-fewest receiving yards with 3233. Only three teams have had fewer touchdown receptions from tight ends than the Texans 20.
Jeremiah wrote prior to the Combine that he thought T.J. Hockenson was the “safest player” in the whole draft, and Hockenson’s Combine performance did little to disabuse him from this notion. Hockenson was another winner from the Combine and could be the answer to the Texans tight end woes that have plagued them throughout the O’Brien era.
Pick 25 – Philadelphia Eagles, Josh Jacobs, Running Back
This is probably the one pick with which I wholeheartedly disagree with. Now, I like Daniel Jeremiah a great deal. I do not doubt his credentials as an informed source in the slightest, nor do I deny that he has a good relationship with people inside the Eagles organization. But selecting a running back in the first round, even this late in the round, doesn’t strike me as something the team will do. They haven’t selected a running back earlier than the 4th round since 2009 when they spent a second round pick on LeSean McCoy. That being said, they could certainly stand an upgrade at the spot.
Josh Jacobs didn’t test at the Combine and was one of the happiest people in the world as he watched his rivals underwhelm. His Pro Day workouts will only have to be adequate to keep him in play as the first running back to be taken this year. This despite fairly innocuous college production. His College Dominator Rating was a mere 13.9 percent, placing him in the 15th percentile. He also offered very little as a receiver, with a 4.2 percent college target share. He seems an awfully big gamble for the usually safe selecting Eagles at this stage of the draft.
Pick 26 – Indianapolis Colts, N’Keal Harry, Wide Receiver
The Colts have no business being cautious when it comes to surrounding Andrew Luck with weapons. Absolutely no business. The Colts have signed Devin Funchess to a one year deal at the start of free agency. But they absolutely should not stop there. Funchess may be just the thing they are looking for in 2019, but for the years ahead N’Keal Harry gives Luck a safety blanket to pair with T.Y. Hilton.
Harry, another of the biggest winners out of the Combine, commanded a 43.9 percent College Dominator rating, placing him in the 88th percentile. He also broke out at 18.7 years old, a Breakout Age in the 9th percentile. These factors have gone some way towards his standing as PlayerProfiler’s number one rookie wide receiver. Pairing him with Andrew Luck could see him immediately fantasy relevant as a rookie.