Former NFL scout and current NFL media analyst Daniel Jeremiah is one of the most respected draft analysts out there. He held a conference call this week to talk everything NFL Draft ahead of the release of his final Top 50 ranking of the 2022 draft class next week.
When it comes to the Detroit Lions and their pick at No. 2, Jeremiah thinks it's a no-brainer for Detroit to select Michigan edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson if Jacksonville passes on him at No. 1 overall.
"So in terms of the Lions up there at the top of the draft, Aidan Hutchinson to me is the run the card up if he gets there," Jeremiah said. "If Travon Walker goes one I wouldn't think it would take long. It's too easy of a fit there. It's a need. He brings everything that you want on the field and then you kind of add that other element with the leadership and what he could bring to a team that's trying to get the corner turned here. I think he's somebody that has the experience of getting that done. So I think that would be a home run pick."
If Hutchinson is gone, Jeremiah thinks Walker could be in the discussion at No. 2.
"I think Walker would make some sense for them," he said. "Again, real rugged, physical player. Be kind of ironic, because if you look for players that have gone in the first round with some of the limited production that he has, maybe kind of one of those upside picks. The Lions with Ziggy Ansah is probably as good an example as any and was a really, really good player. That would be another one."
But what about a couple wildcard picks for Lions fans to consider at No. 2?
Jeremiah mentioned Cincinnati cornerback Sauce Gardner, a Detroit native, as a possibility, along with LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.
"To me, Stingley is intriguing as we come down the home stretch here," he said. "If you're thinking about a home run type pick, I wouldn't rule that one out."
At pick 32 for the Lions, Jeremiah said the fifth-year option that's given to all first-round picks on their rookie contract could make quarterback appealing for the team at the end of the first round.
"I think it's definitely worth it there in terms of getting that extra year," he said. "That's a real deal. I know a lot of these deals are getting done earlier, but it just provides you with leverage. Provided you have the grades on them.
"Don't take a guy you've got as your hundredth player up there just to get the fifth-year option. But if you've got the grades that support it, I've got no problem with a team doing that to go up there and get that accomplished and a quarterback and take a shot on him."
Jeremiah also touched on a number of other interesting topics, as follows:
On taking receivers in the top 10 in this year's class: Jeremiah absolutely believe there are receivers that warrant a top 10 pick.
"I had Garrett Wilson as my fifth player in my final update which comes out next week," he said. "I moved him up a spot. He is my fourth highest rated player in this draft.
"Drake London is my seventh highest rated player in this draft. I feel like they're two of the 10 best players. It just comes down to do these teams want to do that early."
Jeremiah also thinks depth at the receiver position has worked against wide outs recently with all the hits at the position in the second and third rounds.
"I think seeing the cost of these wide outs and what it's going to take to procure one of them on the open market, and that number gets north of $20 million," he said.
"You look at somebody like Justin Jefferson who obviously is a great example, where he was picked in the draft, his average per year is like $3 million a year. So you get cost control on a player like that at that price for four years plus a fifth year option versus having to go the veteran route and having to pay that huge, huge number to get a premium guy."
View photos from offseason workouts on Friday, April 22, 2022.
On how this receiver class compares to recent receiver classes: He likes the class as a whole, and really likes the top six or seven players at receiver, but admits there's not a Ja'Marr Chase in this class. He said he would have a higher grade on Chase, Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle – the top three receivers taken in 2021 draft – ahead of any receiver in this class.
But he thinks the depth into the fourth round and beyond is as good as some of the other most recent drafts we've seen.
On what constitutes a great draft for a team: "I think we can all agree the Bengals had a good draft last year just because of what they got out of Ja'Marr Chase right out of the chute," he said.
"Sometimes you're going to know right away, but in terms of like the collective of your picks, the goal, the teams that I was on, usually the aim was if you could get three starters in the draft, that's a really good draft."
On how COVID-19 and the extra year of eligibility for players in this draft affected the overall depth of the class: "Every year I try and get 400 players done for the draft, and usually I get to about 350 or 360, and then I'm just – it's a mad scramble to try and find some more guys to get to that 400 number," he said.
"This year I kind of got to 400 pretty easily, and I'm sure there's – as there always are, there's going to be a few guys that get picked that aren't among those 400. It's going to be a really good kind of sixth, seventh round and priority free agent year to get those guys."