NFL media analyst Daniel Jeremiah held his final national conference call Wednesday ahead of next week's NFL Draft April 29-May 1 in Cleveland. Jeremiah touched on a lot of different topics, so here are some quick takeaways from his call:
1. He said this is the worst defensive tackle class in terms of top-end talent and depth he's seen since 2003. Jeremiah said he won't be surprised if only two defensive tackles are selected in the top 75 picks. The top defensive tackle on Jeremiah's list of his Top 50 prospects is Washington's Levi Onwuzurike, who comes in at No. 30. Alabama's Christian Barmore is No. 42.
2. This has been a strange pre-draft process with February's NFL Scouting Combine being canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. Teams have relied heavily on pro days. Jeremiah said the biggest concern teams have at this point is some of the incomplete medical evaluations on players, especially players projected to go on Day 3.
"People are majorly freaked out about the medicals," Jeremiah said.
He thinks it might particularly affect the back part of the draft with teams more willing to move up into Day 2 or early in Day 3 (Round 5) using late-round picks to be able to draft players they have a more complete medical picture on.
3. In the same light, there have been some positive developments to this offseason, per Jeremiah. The ability to hold multiple Zoom sessions with players and have more one-on-one time with prospects, not just the 15 minutes at the Combine or one of 30 pre-draft visits, has been a welcome development for teams. Jeremiah thinks the Zoom process with prospects is here to stay, even when things get more back to normal.
4. Who is a player Jeremiah has moving up his Top 50 list? He mentioned North Dakota State offensive tackle Dillon Radunz, who is currently listed at No. 47. He said after more study on him he'll likely move up into the early 30s on his final Top 50 released next week.
5. With quarterbacks expected to go off the board with the top three picks – Jacksonville, New York Jets and San Francisco – the draft really starts to get interesting at pick No. 4 with Atlanta. If Jeremiah was running things in Atlanta, he said the pick for him would be North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance, who has potentially more upside than any of the quarterbacks in this class.
6. Jeremiah has Florida tight end/receiver Kyle Pitts as the No. 2 overall prospect in the draft behind Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who is expected to go No. 1 overall to Jacksonville. Jeremiah said there are teams outside the top 10 picks looking to trade up for Pitts.
7. This is a strong cornerback class. One thing Jeremiah said teams love about this class is there are a number of players who come from football families with their fathers having played in the league, like Patrick Surtain II, Jaycee Horn and Asante Samuel Jr. Jeremiah said teams love those players because they grew up in the locker room and around the NFL. Typically their adjustment to the league is much smoother having been around the game their whole lives.
8. Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins is a player Jeremiah mentioned he's really high on. He said Collins reminds him of Minnesota Pro Bowl linebacker Anthony Barr. Pretty high praise there for Collins.
9. Keeping with the linebacker theme, Jeremiah believes this is such a good class of off-the-ball linebackers that there will be players taken in the third and fourth rounds who will be immediate impact players for their teams. That's good news for a team like the Lions, who could be in the market for some help at linebacker.
10. Jeremiah said the goal of every team is to come out of the draft with three or four players who become starters and foundational pieces within three seasons.