Daniel Jeremiah spoke with media members at length on Tuesday about the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft.
The former Eagles scout and current NFL Network analyst typically offers good insight, especially as someone with notable connections to Philadelphia's front office. He was all over projecting Justin Jefferson as a great option for the Eagles last year, for example. It’s just too bad that they ignored his advice and selected Jalen Reagor instead.
Anyway, here’s all that Jeremiah had to say about the Eagles’ draft outlook this year. He also touched on Jalen Hurts and more.
KYLE PITTS LOVFEST
Q. Kyle Pitts, what makes him such a special player? And I know you had him going to the Eagles in the last mock draft, why would that make sense for them?
DANIEL JEREMIAH: Well, I think you can make a strong case he’s the best player in the draft. I have him as the third-best player right now. When I update it, and I’ve seen a lot more going through all these defensive players, I just watched all these corners, and I’m watching these corners with first, second, third-round draft grades in the SEC and they can’t cover the guy.
You split them out, and I think if he was just in this draft as an X receiver, he’s a top-10 or -15 pick if you’ve never even watched him put his hand in the ground. At that size, to be able to get in and out as he does is pretty rare, to turn guys inside out.
You watch [Travis] Kelce and you’ll see Kelce run those pivot routes where he’s so efficient and doesn’t waste any steps. You see the same thing with Pitts, and then he has a bigger catch radius to go up over the top of people and make plays. To me, it’s a match-up that’s going to be in your favor every time you line up.
The defense can’t be right against him no matter what you do. You put big guys out there he’s going to run away from them. You put small guys out there he’s just going to pluck the ball off their heads. That to me is what makes him special.
I was talking to somebody in the league the other day about this. I thought it was a really fascinating point. If you’re the Eagles, for example, and you’re looking at one of the top receivers versus Kyle Pitts - and I know obviously [Dallas] Goedert is one of the best tight ends in the NFL - but to me, I would love to break the huddle with those two guys and force teams to try and figure out how to match up with them.
The point that was made to me by someone in the league, they said, the interesting thing is we look at receivers and tight ends. Look at the franchise number and look at the difference in money. I think there’s a difference of like 6 million bucks.
So not only do you have a rare mismatch player that’s hard to find, once you get to the second contract he’s going to be extremely affordable compared to if you were going to take a receiver with that same pick. So you’re getting the same level of impact without having to pay that same level of cost. To me, I think that could be something that could be a tiebreaker when you’re making that decision.
Q. Daniel, I’m going to give you a few players. If you were the Eagles, you’re on the clock at 6, and you’ve mentioned all the players, Pitts, Waddle, Ja’Marr Chase and maybe — I think Smith would probably be for whatever reason, and any offensive or defensive linemen, who would you take at that position?
DANIEL JEREMIAH: I would take Pitts. I would. I think it’s a no-brainer. I think — we’ve talked about how high the ceiling is with him. I mean, I think he can emerge as the best tight end in the National Football League. He’s that type of dynamic ability.
I think when you have Jalen Hurts and you want to see what he can do and now you’ve got Kyle Pitts and you’ve got Goedert, you’ve got two guys that can really uncover and you’re going to have favorable match-ups right in the middle of the field if you want them, those can be some easy completions.
To me that one would make the most sense for them, and I think it would make their offense the most dangerous.
I have Ja’Marr Chase and I have the same grade with Pitts, but to me if you wanted to find a receiver, another receiver to kind of come along with some of these other young guys you’re hoping are going to develop, I think you’ve got better options for some of those receivers later rounds than you would at the tight end position. This Kyle Pitts is a rare dude, man. I would take him.
Q. If Pitts isn’t there, who is your pick?
DANIEL JEREMIAH: I would take Ja’Marr Chase. Look, I get it, they went to the receiver position last year, but this guy is on a whole different level. This is a big time pure No. 1 wide out. I think they need to get some firepower and evaluate the quarterback. That would help you do that.
I think it’s safe to say Jeremiah likes Pitts.
There is a case to be made he makes sense for the Eagles. BGN’s own Ben Natan outlined that very argument earlier this year. The guys from Sports Info Solutions also made the case on a recent BGN Radio podcast episode.
There’s also a case to be made against Pitts. First off, I don’t really like Jeremiah’s point about the financial aspect. Actual wide receivers are getting paid more because ... they’re more valuable! And it should come as no surprise:
The line about how the Eagles could “break the huddle with those two guys [Pitts and Goedert] and force teams to try and figure out how to match up with them” reminds me about people once said about Zach Ertz and Goedert. And how that offense was entirely stoppable.
You can blame the coaching staff and/or poor roster construction for the Eagles’ 12 personnel package not being more effective. But it’s not like there are other teams having tremendous success by using a ton of two tight end sets. The Eagles led the lead in 12 personnel utilization in both 2019 (52%) and 2020 (35%).
Perhaps Pitts is truly more than a tight end. But I can’t help but think that premise could end up being a galaxy brain thought that doesn't age well.
in re: Pitts isn't just a TE. There are few offseason traps as big as players who "aren't just a [position]". Coaches get so excited about the possibilities! Then they just play them at [position] for four years. Do we have a coach who himself is the exception? I doubt it.— Sam Lynch (@shlynch) March 10, 2021
Not necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison but I remember how much excitement there was about Isaiah Simmons as a positionless defender heading into last year’s draft. And then the No. 8 overall pick underwhelmed as a rookie.
When it comes to picking between an actual wide receiver and Pitts at No. 6, I thought my BGN Radio co-host Jimmy Kempski put it well on PhillyVoice:
McShay has the Eagles taking Pitts with Ja’Marr Chase still on the board, which makes no sense to me. The only way you can take Pitts if you’re the Eagles is if you believe he can be an X receiver in your offense. Otherwise, you’re committing to running a two-tight end set as your base offense, which, just... . Or you’re planning on trading one of your only good young players in Goedert, and very likely for less than he’s worth. So you can either take the stud X receiver in Chase, or the tight end (granted, a potential stud TE) who can maybe replicate some of the things that Chase can do, but is obviously not as good a receiver. I don’t get it.
I value Jeremiah’s opinion but Pitts at No. 6 doesn’t feel like a “no-brainer” to me.
Should the Eagles draft Kyle Pitts at No. 6?
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JALEN HURTS AND QB TALK
Q. I wanted to ask you about three quarterbacks, two in this draft, one from last year’s draft, Fields, TreyLance, and Jalen Hurts. Of those three, who right now do you feel has the highest NFL ceiling?
DANIEL JEREMIAH: Ooh, that’s a good one. I would say the highest ceiling would be Justin Fields just because his speed and athleticism — Trey Lance is a great runner and I think Trey Lance is probably going to run in the high 4.5s, which is incredible; and Jalen Hurts is a really good runner. But Justin Fields can be a home run hitter as a runner. Just his speed makes him a little different there.
You look at all three of those guys have strong arms. I think that Fields has the ability to do as much as the other guys in terms of throwing the football.
That to me would be kind of the tiebreaker in terms of where he can ultimately get, but I think it’s close between him and Trey Lance in that discussion. Trey Lance, he reminds me of Steve McNair. I was around McNair late in his career with the Ravens and just the physicality that he plays with, the toughness — he’s got a little room to grow in terms of just pure accuracy, but man, I think those two guys are really, really interesting.
Jalen Hurts I had as my 50th player and I thought he had a chance to be a quality starting quarterback at the NFL level, but these two kids to me have a much higher ceiling. That would be — if you’re looking at ceiling, that would be probably the order that I would go.
I think Trey Lance and Justin Fields is kind of a toss-up.
Q. You’ve spoken about the Eagles and also your Jalen Hurts evaluation from last spring, but if you were in Howie Roseman’s seat, would you go with Hurts this year or would you look for a QB in this draft?
DANIEL JEREMIAH: Yeah, he’s got a tough call. I mean, Jalen showed some good things last year. I think you’re hopeful and excited about what you can see from him going forward. I think it really depends on how you evaluate these quarterbacks. To me if you have a significant gap between Jalen and what your options thereat pick No. 6, might not be popular to go back to that well after all the quarterback drama, you can make a case, well, let’s just have a year of peace, let’s take the best available player.
I would separate it by saying if Kyle Pitts is there, turn in the card. I don’t know if it’s 10 or 15 minutes, however long you get between picks this year, but don’t spend all of it. Just send that card in and be done with it.
Outside of that, I think it really comes down to your evaluation. If you have a big gap between one of these quarterbacks and Jalen, I think you have to take the quarterback. That’s just my opinion.
Q. To harp back on the Jalen Hurts situation with the Eagles, and I know you have an affinity for Pitts, but in terms of Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, is there one player on the board that can maybe bring out the most in Hurts’ skill set, and if so could you tell us why?
DANIEL JEREMIAH: Yeah, I’ll take the guy that’s going to score the most touchdowns, and that’s going to be Pitts. I love all those players. They’re all really good options. Ja’Marr Chase I could make a strong case for him and he would really help with what he can do after the catch. But to me the best match-up on the field is an athletic tight end versus the linebackers and safeties that are going to try and cover him. I watched some of the best corners in the SEC couldn’t cover this kid, and now we’re going to ask linebackers to try and match up with him? Not going to happen.
To me that’s going to give Jalen Hurts a lot of easy completions. You’re going to get down in the red zone and he’s going to have him and Goedert, guys that can play above the rim and go make plays, finish drives, win on 3rd down, win in the red zone. I mean, I don’t know, I don’t know what would be the hangup there. To me it’s Kyle Pitts all day long, turn in the card. And I think Jalen Hurts should be elated if that’s what ends up happening for the Eagles.
Jeremiah’s probably right about the top quarterback prospects in this year’s class having a higher ceiling than Hurts. But, as stated many times in this space before, that shouldn’t prompt the Eagles to force a pick by taking one at No. 6. The Eagles should only draft a quarterback if they feel relatively confident about him being an elite prospect. The objective shouldn’t be about merely upgrading (and perhaps only incrementally) upon Hurts.
Fields is the most intriguing realistic option for the Eagles if he makes it to No. 6, which I don’t think he will. Lance is just way too much of an unknown to select with such a valuable resource.
SECOND-ROUND OPTIONS FOR THE EAGLES
Q. I wanted to get back to the Eagles. You mentioned at No. 6 overall with Pitts or potential receiver. I think in a lot of ways Jeffrey [Lurie] said this is a transition, 37 is just as important. You know how that team likes to build on both sides of the football. They also need a corner, just a couple names maybe at 37?
DANIEL JEREMIAH: Yeah, there’s going to be some good options there for them. When you look at the corner position, I think we’ve hit on a couple of those guys, but when you look there at the top of the second round, I think those — right around the range for the Georgia kids with Tyson Campbell as well as Eric Stokes there in the second round.
You look at some of those other positions there for the Eagles and where they could go. Let’s assume they go with an offensive weapon there. I can’t see them leaving the first two rounds without a big. Whether that’s an edge rusher like a Joe Tryon from Washington there at the top of the second round, I think that one would make some sense.
I’ve talked about Payton Turner is an interesting player. It may be a little bit early from him out of Houston, but he kind of factors in there. Ronnie Perkins I think would be a home run pick there in the second round. Those edge rushers to me would make some sense there.
And offensive line-wise, when you get to that part, early second round, let me give you a couple names there. Look at [Dillon] Radunz from North Dakota State. I think he is going to end up moving inside to guard. He is my 44th player, so that’s right about the same spot. I went and worked him out in L.A. the other day. He can move. He’s an impressive kid who had a really good week at the Senior Bowl.
And then if you’re looking at tackles, I wouldn’t sleep on [Liam] Eichenberg from Notre Dame as somebody potentially there. He’s a little bit stiff, but really good football intelligence, really good hands, has played a lot of football there at Notre Dame. Those are a couple names I’d keep an eye on.
In addition to this, the folks over at SIS recently profiled some Day 2 and Day 3 targets for the Eagles.