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Former Eagles scout talks potential targets for Philly in the 2019 NFL Draft

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Interesting insight.

Oklahoma v Oklahoma State Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

Former Philadelphia Eagles scout and current NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah (Mike Mayock’s replacement at NFLN) held a conference call on Thursday to talk about next week’s 2019 NFL Draft.

Jeremiah has some unique insight into how the Eagles’ front office thinks given that he’s worked with both Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas, so it’s always worth hearing what he has to say. Jeremiah answered some questions directly about the Eagles and also touched on draft prospects that could interest Philly.

The case for trading back

Jeremiah opened his call with a statement on the quality of this year’s draft class.

You kind of look at it from a 30,000-foot view here, I think that there’s 15 to 16 players that everybody in the league kind of agrees are the top guys, and then after that once you get to 17, 18, all the way to 50 or 60, they’re in all different order there. So it creates a lot of uncertainty of what’s going to happen in the back half of the first round, which will be fun. And as we stand right now, it still looks like Kyler Murray to me will be the first overall pick, but that’s not nailed down, so there’s a little bit of drama still left at the top of the draft. It’s a historically good defensive line group and I think we’ll see that reflected in the first 15 picks of this year’s draft.

The Eagles could easily trade down (and try to pick up a third-round selection?) if they’re not crazy about their options at No. 25. There are plenty of mock scenarios where you get to the Eagles’ pick and you’re just not over the moon about who’s left on the board.

Defensive tackle options at No. 25

Q. From a pass rushing perspective, it seems like there’s not going to be a lot of guys that last third of the first round, but do you think there’s an opportunity for the Eagles to kind of target a guy that might be a versatile guy that can play defensive tackle and defensive end in that range?

DANIEL JEREMIAH: Yeah, in terms of the back end of the first round?

Q. Yeah.

DANIEL JEREMIAH: Yeah, I mean, look, you’re going to find different guys. Somebody that can play inside and outside. I look at somebody that’s primarily going to be playing inside like Jerry Tillery kind of falls in that. He falls in that range as somebody that can get to the quarterback. He would just do it from an inside alignment. You can look at guys, we’re looking at pure pass rushers, but an interesting name is a guy like Dexter Lawrence, where does he fill in. Yeah, he doesn’t rush the passer, he hasn’t had an opportunity to rush the passer that much, but when you’ve got edge pressure and you’ve got somebody on the inside that can create some pocket push, there’s some value for somebody like that who can have an impact as a pass rusher without necessarily winning with quickness or getting it done himself. He can impact it in that regard. He’ll have an interesting decision to make if Jeffery Simmons were to somehow fall down there, who I think can move up and down the line of scrimmage, but again, you’ve got to wait out the injury coming off the ACL and see where he is at that point in time.

It’s not hard to envision the Eagles coming away with one of Tillery, Lawrence, or Simmons at No. 25. I think Tillery would be preferred due to his pass rush ability. DJ makes an interesting case for Lawrence in that he wouldn’t be a dynamic pass rusher himself but the 6-4, 342 pound behemoth could potentially help free up other defensive linemen around him. I don’t think the Eagles will be drafting Simmons so early due his injury and character concerns.

Eagles draft philosophy

Q. In knowing Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas, how would you describe their draft philosophies and what do you make of the fact that almost all Howie’s first-round picks have been on the line?

DANIEL JEREMIAH: Yeah, I think that’s one thing they have in common. I think people try and say what’s the difference. That’s one thing they share is building in the trenches, and that was something that having been with Joe in Baltimore, and that was something that was preached there, and having been with Andy and Howie, that was something that was shared -- I believe was shared in Philly. I think they have a lot in common in that regard. I think when you look at Joe, Joe is big on the player, not just the person -- the person, not just the player. Really, really digging on those guys and finding out who are the real tough guys. That’s something that’s kind of been his calling card as a scout for a long time. And you can look at some of the guys they’ve picked, kind of that’s a key ingredient to them. Howie, the thing that’s great about Howie is he understands the value. He understands kind of the board in terms of supply and demand at certain positions. He understands how to move around and just maximizing your value, and being able to say, Hey, I know we like this guy, but we can move, we can still get him or we can get somebody else we like just as much, and we can get a little something extra. He’s just very good at kind of seeing the big picture and having a draft day strategy. But I do think they have a lot more in common than people maybe realize in that they believe in building big. You start with the big guys and you go from there.

I say it all the time: the Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2018 when they had the best offensive and defensive lines in the league. We should always expect them to invest premium resources in the trenches.

Running back options for the Eagles

Q. After the first round the Eagles have two picks in the latter part of the second round, 53 and 57. What do you think the running back crop is going to look like at that point in the second round as far as guys that could be good fits for their scheme?

DANIEL JEREMIAH: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s going to be kind of the sweet spot. I think you’ll see some running backs kind of go in the late second, early third round. You look at Damien Harris from Alabama, I think he kind of fits that bill. It’s kind of whatever style you want. I think the real intriguing name which has some risk, you talk about medical, just because of the number of injuries that Rodney Anderson from Oklahoma has had, but his upside is tremendous. You can go watch him in the game against Georgia in the bowl game last year and you can kind of see what he is. He is a tremendous player. But that would be kind of a wild card. And then in that bottom second, I think that’s probably where the conversation comes in with Justice Hill from Oklahoma State who’s just pure speed. You bring in a Jordan Howard to kind of have a power guy. They’ve got to find a way to get more explosive, and that’s where somebody like that would make some sense tome. And I think most people have him in the third-round range. But bottom of the second round, I think it’s fair to have that conversation with a guy like Justice Hill who would make some sense there. I thought early on in the process you might have a chance to see the Penn State running back at that point in time in Miles Sanders, but there’s just too much juice on him. There’s too much heat. There’s too many teams that like him. I think he’ll likely be off the board at that point in time.

Q. How high do you think Miles Sanders can go? What team or teams would be an ideal fit for him?And I guess how impressed or surprised were you with him at the combine?

DANIEL JEREMIAH: Yeah, he’s just done a really good job. I would even just start with what he did in the fall. Having to wait his turn and then to play like he did, and then deliver in the postseason the way he has, he hasn’t really had a misstep once he got his chance. You like to see that from him. In terms of how high he could go, I’d say it’s unlikely that he goes in the bottom of the first round. It wouldn’t totally shock me. A team like the Rams, that might surprise some people considering who they have in Todd Gurley, but they’ve done a lot of homework on running backs. Maybe that’s a scenario where they trade back if they looked at that position. But I’d say there’s a slim chance he could go bottom one, but I do think he’s a lock to go in the second round, and I would anticipate he’s somebody that goes in the top 40 to 50 picks. I think you’ll see him go in the first part of the second round. He won’t have to wait too long.

The Eagles hosted Hill on a pre-draft visit so he’s on their radar to some extent. Taking him at the bottom of the second seems rich, though.

It’s interesting to hear DJ confident that Sanders will be gone before the Eagles pick at No. 53 and No. 57.

Josh Jacobs’ stock dropping?

Q. In your first mock draft back in January you had Josh Jacobs going No. 5 to the Bucs. Now he’s not among your top 32 picks. What’s the reason for that or is it just overlooking something?

DANIEL JEREMIAH: No, good question. I’m glad you asked that because I think a lot of people wonder about that. Early on in the process, I go off of -- these teams haven’t assembled yet. You don’t know where they have players. We still have also to see what happens in free agency. There’s so much that changes. So on an early mock draft, a lot of times if I don’t have any intel, I just go, Hey, this is a player I’m high on, and I’ve been a Josh Jacobs guy from the jump. He’s still in my top-10 overall players, how I rank them. But as you go deeper into mock drafts, you start hearing things. You start talking to people with teams. You start talking to people who know people. You follow who’s spending time with players. You just get more information. And the way I try to explain it is for the most part, I try and do my mock drafts with my ears based off what I’m hearing, and I do my top-50 list off my eyes, what I think of a player.So I personally think Josh Jacobs is one of the 10 best football players in this draft, and I can say that while also saying I don’t believe he’s going to go in the top10. I think he’s likely to go in the 20s or the 30s when it’s all said and done. But that’s why when I looked at that team, Ronald Jones being a big disappointment and still having a need at that spot, I thought, man, this guy is plug and play and he’d be a great fit for that football team. But as you go through the process, you realize, okay, what I’m hearing does not match up with them taking him at that point in time

I’ve been wondering if Jacobs could experience a 2017 Dalvin Cook-like fall into the second round. Cook ultimately made it to pick No. 41. Maybe Jacobs starts falling and the Eagles go up and get him in the second?

More running back options

Q. I’m curious what you see the strengths and weaknesses are of two guys: Dexter Williams from Notre Dame and Darrell Henderson from Memphis.

DANIEL JEREMIAH: Sure. Two good players. Let’s start with Dexter. Missed games due to suspension, but once he got out there, he’s got some home run ability. He didn’t run quite as fast as I thought he would, but in the high 4.5s, but he runs hard. He’s got a little bit of a higher pad level, which is something he’ll have to work on, but you see the big-time burst. I like the fact he’s effective in pass protection. That’s going to be big, especially in that offense. That helps him out a little bit there. Henderson is a true home run hitter. He presses the hold, no nonsense, and he’s got a lot of top-end speed. He plays much faster than the 4.49 he ran. He’s a little bit stiff, but he runs lower to the ground. He’s got good vision, and he’s just more of a hit-it guy than Dexter. I have Henderson over Dexter Williams, and I think when it’s all said and done, he’ll end up going over him.

Henderson, who came to Philly for a pre-draft visit, is a popular target among Eagles fans. He could be a real nice complement as lightning to Jordan Howard’s thunder.

Little worry about Hollywood

But I can tell you a player like Hollywood Brown, people are very confident. I talked to a general manager that’s sworn that they feel 100 percent confident he’ll return to what he was and their doctors were fine with him.

DJ has the Eagles selecting Marquise Brown at No. 25 overall in his latest mock. Apparently there isn’t a ton of concern about his Lisfranc injury. DJ’s sentiment matches up with ESPN’s reports that Brown should be ready for training camp.

Surprise first round safeties?

Thornhill is -- he’s a player that I really like. He’s somebody that he can play safety, he can play corner. I like him as a pure free safety. I think that’s his best spot. I know he can drop down and cover if you want him to, but I just loved his range. In a draft where we’ve got a lot of guys that can play down low and can be force players, he’s somebody -- I just like his ability to play in the middle of the field, to range around and make a bunch of plays that way, and that’s what gets me excited about him. Now, the concern is you’re going to have to live with some fly-by missed tackles. That’s going to be part of it. And some teams, that’s why they just say, We’re going to put him at corner, they have concerns about him in the run game, they feel like they can eliminate some of that with him playing corner. Just for me personally, I think pure free safeties are hard to find right now. They can play over the top, and that’s where I would put him.

The Eagles brought Thornhill in for a pre-draft visit. There’s some speculation he could ba surprise first round pick.

Q. I was wondering about like a lot of teams talk about like the evolution of the safety position and how they’re looking for guys that can pretty much do everything back there, and with that in mind, I was wondering about two guys in particular in Nasir Adderley and Darnell Savage and how they fit that mold.

DANIEL JEREMIAH: Savage is, I’m glad you brought him up, because there’s no player that’s got more steam and momentum right now in this draft than Darnell Savage. Teams love him, love him to the point where I would not be surprised if he found his way into the first round. The only thing he’s lacking is just kind of ideal size, a little bit undersized, but he ran 4.3, he plays to that 4.3. I’ve done more work on him, and I’ll have to do my last update here, I think that will come out next week, he’ll be in my top 50, having watched a little bit more and you get a chance to see him, the things he can do, lining up all over the field and that versatility you’re talking about. Ohio State game is fantastic. I would say absolutely he’s a top-40 pick, and I think he’s got a real chance to sneak into the first round when it’s all said and done. Teams love Darnell Savage. Adderley, I’m a big Adderley fan. I think he’s taken on a little bit of water in the postseason just being nicked up, didn’t get a chance to run as fast as he had hoped running a 4.62. I have him in the second-round range.I think there’s a chance he might slip into the third round. But I value him there in the second, and I love his competitiveness, his toughness. I like him as a free safety. Some teams like him as a nickel. It’s going to depend on who picks him, how his role evolves and develops, but I think he’s a darned good football player.

Philly hosted Savage on a pre-draft visit as well. It feels like the Eagles could try to get an eventual Malcolm Jenkins replacement on Day 1 or Day 2.