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Exactly one week from the start of the NFL Draft, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah held a conference call to discuss storylines.
Here are the five most important things we took from his commentary.
Houston Texans could take Will Anderson AND a quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft
All of the discussion around the Houston Texans surrounds the #2 overall pick in the draft. Most people assumed they would take a quarterback with that selection. However, recent reporting indicates they may use that pick on a defensive player or trade it away.
But they also pick at #12 overall. Perhaps the reason they’re not committed to a quarterback at #2 is because they think they can get a comparable player later.
Jeremiah put that out as a possibility.
“There has to be a plan in place to add a quarterback in this draft,” Jeremiah said. “They’ve got an opportunity at 12. Maybe that’s what they have in mind. I just have a hard time seeing them entering next season with the Mills-Keenum-Perry combo being it.
“I would be shocked in they left the first round with those two picks and one of them was not a quarterback.”
Will Levis to the Colts looks like the most likely scenario for both player and team
There’s been a lot of chatter about the Indianapolis Colts. They’re picking at #4 and a quarterback seems all but a certainty at this point. Owner Jim Irsay has pretty much said he prefers going the rookie route than trying to bring in another veteran — even Lamar Jackson.
With the Texans possibly looking to trade out of two — or take a defensive player — and the Cardinals definitely looking to move back, could the Colts try to grab CJ Stroud if he falls?
Jeremiah thinks they have identified Levis as their guy and comfortable with him dropping down to #4.
“There’s a lot of people in the league that you talk to with — GMs and head coaches — that just feel like Will Levis is a good fit there with them,” Jeremiah said.
“You have a [head] coach in Shane Steichen who’s been able to work with Jalen Hurts and even [Justin] Herbert, [Levis’] ability to move around a little bit, he fits that mold. I hear a lot of stuff with Levis and them, and maybe that’s their guy. Maybe they’re comfortable, and maybe that’s why they’ve been so content that they’re comfortable with a couple of different options.”
The quarterbacks control the NFL Draft, and it could surprise people how they shake out
Look, we can’t pretend the NFL isn’t a quarterback-driven league. Yes, I spend a lot of time talking and writing about quarterbacks and there’s a reason for that: they’re the biggest stars.
So, of course, the quarterbacks control the NFL Draft. But this year seems to be a bit different than others. There is so much division about just how good these four guys are. Yes, we’ve identified that Young is likely to go #1 overall.
But some think CJ Stroud is a sure-fire #2 overall pick. Furthermore, some teams — perhaps even the one picking there — don’t. It’s possible teams don’t think he belongs in the Top 5.
Then, you get to Levis and Anthony Richardson. Possibly even Hendon Hooker. You’ll see projections with those guys in the Top 5 and hear reports of teams that don’t have first-round grades on either player.
So a lot can happen that can change the entire dynamic of this draft and it completely depends on hoe the quarterbacks shake out.
“If [the Texans] don’t take one and all of a sudden Arizona can’t [trade] out, then we’re looking at two quarterbacks going potentially in the top five, and that means more than likely that one of those quarterbacks is going to get down the board even further,” Jeremiah said.
“To me, if they’re not good enough to go up there in the top five, they get to ten. Now you bring in a whole new wave of teams that could be in the quarterback market and can trade up. We’ve seen that in years past … Those 10, 12, that area. There seems to be kind of that new sweet spot of quarterbacks.
“I think a lot of times we assume these quarterbacks are all going to roll and go off the board in the top five, but there’s a lot of history over the last handful of years where that 9, 10 to 15 range has been a spot where you could see teams go get one.”
If that happens, it could change which teams might draft a quarterback. Could the Patriots give up on Mac Jones and take a QB? Do the Falcons decide to go QB and not roll the dice on Desmond Ridder? What about the Washington Commanders?
The quarterbacks usually dictate the NFL Draft and this year is no different.
Teams can overvalue athleticism and undervalue intangibles
One interesting thing that Jeremiah hit on is the makeup of players. It’s one of the reasons I LOVE Brian Branch from Alabama. He may not be the biggest or fastest, but he’s a great football player. He’s a hard worker, a leader and he’s smart.
Someone asked Jeremiah about the success the San Francisco 49ers have had in the later rounds of the NFL Draft. The reporter mentioned George Kittle, Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, Talanoa Hufanga, D.J. Jones, and Brock Purdy.
An impressive track record of picks outside the first round.
Jeremiah’s response was telling: “Sometimes this thing is not evaluating these guys as players. It’s evaluating them as people and competitors and all that. I’ve got to believe it helps having [GM] John [Lynch] there as somebody who kind of epitomizes what you would want in a football player. He knows what it looks like.”
Sometimes teams get enamored with the athletic traits at the combine or pro days and they ignore the obvious: draft good football players. Seems simple, but it’s amazing how many teams ignore the most basic advice.
Arizona and Detroit are praying that teams fall in love with these quarterbacks
The Arizona Cardinals want to get out of #3 and trade down. It’s the worst-kept secret in football. But if no one loves these quarterbacks, they might not have a partner. And that’s bad news for Arizona.
“I would think it’s a no-brainer that they would [trade down],” Jeremiah said. “The question is whether there’s a market for it. It’s got to be a two-way street. I think they would love to get out. I don’t want to be overly harsh, but in my opinion I think they have the worst roster in the league right now.”
The Detroit Lions have almost the opposite reasoning. Detroit is very close to contending — they nearly made the playoffs last season — and they’re not looking for a quarterback. But the more QBs that go ahead of them (they pick 6th), the better chance they have to get a player that can help them next season.
“If I’m the Lions, I want all four of those quarterbacks to go,” Jeremiah said. “When you look at where they’re picking, they have four of the top 55 picks … they’ve got a chance to add some real, real help to their roster.
“I don’t know that there’s many teams you would rather be than them right now with where they are as an organization and the assets they have to go ahead and take that next step.”
How crazy is that thought? The Detroit Lions might be in the best position going into the NFL Draft of any team in the league.
What a time to be alive.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @RealDanZak