Scout's honor

He was a quarterback at Northeast Louisiana and Appalachian State and a scout for the Eagles, Browns and Ravens, but Daniel Jeremiah's current area of expertise is the NFL Draft.

In the wake of Mike Mayock becoming the general manager of the Oakland Raiders, Jeremiah has taken over as the lead draft analyst for the NFL Network.

It's a role Jeremiah has embraced, a development that's been obvious again this offseason during Senior Bowl Week, at the NFL Scouting Combine and on Thursday, when Jeremiah conducted a conference call for interested media that lasted two-plus hours.

The subjects broached included:

How quickly wide receivers can have an impact: "The challenge in scouting the position is it's almost like two different games for college and the NFL in terms of what routes you're asked to run, which are very limited at the college level. You watch a college game on a Saturday, it's very limited in terms of them having to read coverage and sight-adjust their routes. They don't see very much press coverage so they don't have to get off press.

"Now you're bringing them to the NFL, you're asking them to get off press coverage, to think on the move and to run a lot of routes they've never run before. There's a lot of adjustment there, but I think the last couple years we're seeing the NFL be a little smarter with the transition period for these guys and figuring out ways they can get them on fly sweeps or bubble screens and just get the ball in their hands and let them make plays, simplifying it a little bit while they're young before they can grow and evolve into everything you want them to do."

The value of the running back position: "Drafting a running back high is going to get a lot of criticism for a lot of folks, but to me if you're somebody that can be a weapon in the passing game, as well in the run game; I don't know that it would be the smartest thing in the world to get a second contract with those players, that's been proven out.

"I think you can have a nice five- or six-year run of extreme production, but you'd better be able to compete and be a difference maker in the passing game. You've got to be complete to have value at that position right now. It's just the way that it is."

The importance of position versatility and flexibility: "It's never been more important. We use the phrase in scouting, we talk about position-less players, and that's where it's headed, where you're not going to be labeling these guys anymore. Some of these guys are wide receiver or running back, no, they're offensive weapons.

I watched Austin Ekeler every week with the Chargers calling those games and you see what he does as a receiver. We've seen obviously Christian McCaffrey and what those guys do. Deebo Samuel, who's a wide receiver who can also play running back, that's where the value is and defensively, you've got to find a way to match up with those.

"You see guys like Derwin James, you see what we see here with Isaiah Simmons where it allows you to keep your guys on the field and not get manipulated where they can sub and

get you in a look, and once they get you in a look they're going to crank the tempo and they're going to isolate the guy that's out of position and go at him. When you've got players with versatility they have that ability to be able to cover the tight end but yet somebody that can also hold up at the point of attack if you want to try and run it down their throats, somebody that can cover in the slot, somebody who can drop back and play the deep pass, it allows you to disguise your looks defensively, It allows you to confuse quarterbacks match up with the athletes you're going to see.

"Those guys have never been more valuable, and one of the conversations that I've had over the last few years and really even more so this year is with the linebackers. It doesn't matter if

you're an unbelievably instinctive player and you're tough and you're physical. If you cannot run, they can't hide you anymore. You're going to get exposed."

The less-information-available-due-to-current-circumstances impact on the draft: "I'm curious to see how this draft goes and how it's looked back on five years from now because there's going to be less analytic impact on this draft than any one we've seen over the last handful of years because we don't have all the numbers. A lot of these kids, I think I had 11 of my Top 50 players did not run at the Combine, so you're not going to have some of those data points, the Pro Day data points. A lot of the data that had been pulled together to make some suggestions and decisions for a lot of teams, they don't have all that data. It's more of a tape draft.

"So when you look back on this five years from now, will we find out that it was beneficial that they just went off the tape? Or, are they going to look back and say, 'Man, you can see the holes in the data and that's why we had such a horrible hit rate in this draft.' I think it's going to be fascinating to look back on in five years."

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