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2022 NFL Draft

2022 NFL Draft: Daniel Jeremiah identifies team fits for prospects

NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah answered questions for two hours on Friday, previewing the 2022 NFL Draft (April 28-30 on NFL Network) during a media Zoom call. As you might expect, he offered insight on which prospects could be a strong fit with certain NFL teams. Here's a look at the prospect-team connections Jeremiah highlighted:

With quarterbacks not crowding the top of big boards, there’s greater chance for surprise early in the draft. The first one could be safety Kyle Hamilton to the Lions with the No. 2 overall pick.

Jeremiah, who noted his biases from past experience with Ed Reed and current exposure to Derwin James, said the Notre Dame product checks every box at the position and thus could make the type of impact that would warrant being selected so high.

“There’s a real debate going on around the league about just how high you take safeties,” he said. “I don’t necessarily agree with the conventional wisdom on that, of how high you take a safety. I think this kid’s pretty unique. He’s so tall and long and rangy. The ability to make plays from the deep middle as well as the ability to drop down low and be a physical player, he can erase tight ends. …

“I would have no issues whatsoever with them taking Kyle Hamilton and saying this is a plug and play guy who’s going to give them something they desperately need, and that’s somebody who can make a play.”

The Patriots need help at wideout, and they should have some great options with the No. 21 overall pick. Jeremiah thinks Ohio State’s Chris Olave and/or Penn State’s Jahan Dotson might be available at that slot. While they lack size, their deep-threat ability could unlock a more vertical approach from Mac Jones.

“Both of these guys are going to run in the 4.3s. So they’re going to fly, and maybe that helps elevate them up the board a little bit," said Jeremiah. "But both those guys are pristine route runners with big-time speed. That would give them some playmaking ability. … Dotson, for me, I think he has the best hands in the draft. He really attacks the football. He’s got outstanding ability to adjust, he can catch it back hip, above the rim, you name it, he can do it.”

Another wideout to watch here is Alabama’s Jameson Williams, whom DJ said would have been a top-10 pick if not for tearing his ACL in January. Western Michigan's Skyy Moore and North Dakota State's Christian Watson are potential targets for the Pats' second-round pick (No. 54).

The Eagles have drafted wide receivers in consecutive first rounds. The early returns suggest they hit on one (DeVonta Smith) and missed on the other (Jalen Reagor). With three first-round selections in the 2022 draft, Jeremiah expects two of those picks to be used on shoring up the trenches. But he won’t rule out Philadelphia taking another wideout early, as well.

“I would love Garrett Wilson (of Ohio State) in there. I think he’s the best receiver in the draft, in my opinion. He can do everything. He is a complete wide receiver. … From just a pure size, skill set standpoint, you’d say Drake London (of USC) would be the power forward they don’t necessarily have there opposite of DeVonta. I think he’s exceptional.”

Two edge rushers Jeremiah likes for the Eagles in the teens: Purdue's George Karlaftis and Michigan's David Ojabo. Minnesota's Boye Mafe is another option should the Eagles trade down, or perhaps Oklahoma's Nik Bonitto in the second round.

With a new regime in New York comes new vision. Jeremiah expects general manager Joe Schoen to place a premium on physicality and competitiveness, which has been lacking on the O-line. The Giants hold the fifth and seventh overall picks, but Jeremiah isn't confident either of the top two OT prospects will still be on the board by No. 5 and thus isn't certain they'll target that position in the first round.

"I think (Ickey) Ekwonu (of North Carolina State) would be a slam dunk if he got to them," Jeremiah said. "Everybody acknowledges they need to upgrade the offensive line, for sure. But if Ekwonu is gone and (Alabama's) Evan Neal is gone, you're in a tough spot. (Northern Iowa's) Trevor Penning is probably early there. And they have other areas they need to address with their team. I don't necessarily know that they're going to force it. If you look back at the Bills, they've built that offensive line to be a serviceable offensive line, and they've done it without a first-round pick. You can build that in the middle rounds."

Day 2 options Jeremiah likes for Big Blue: Central Michigan's Bernhard Raimann, Louisiana's Max Mitchell and Tulsa's Tyler Smith.

A record-tying three quarterbacks were selected with the first three picks of the 2021 draft. It's unclear if a QB will be selected in the top 10 this year. One team that could change that is the Broncos, who remain in the market for an upgrade as they've struggled to replace Peyton Manning from the 2015 Super Bowl squad. Jeremiah said Liberty's Malik Willis has the highest upside, but Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett is the better fit for Denver.

"When you watch all these guys and you kind of watch them all one after another, he's just different with how quickly he operates, just getting through progressions, get the ball where it needs to be," Jeremiah said of Pickett. "He doesn't have wow arm strength, he doesn't blow you away with that, but he's got really good vision, he throws with anticipation and timing, I think he'd be ready to come in and play right away."

The 49ers don't own a pick until the back end of the second round (No. 61 overall). Their biggest needs are at cornerback and on the offensive line, and Jeremiah believes good options should be available at both positions.

"I'm curious, where does (Kaiir) Elam (of Florida) end up going?" Jeremiah said. "He's really, really tall, he's a press corner, he's got big-time makeup speed. There's some stuff in the transition that he struggled with a little bit, he gave up a bit of separation. But I think there's a lot to like about him in that range."

As for the O-line, Jeremiah could see the Niners targeting Max Mitchell.

Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is credited for evolving the club's philosophy on personnel. Jeremiah noted that going back to his time in Atlanta with GM Thomas Dimitroff, Quinn has been known to value dynamic athletes. With Dallas needing a cornerback, Jeremiah said Kyler Gordon of Washington "would be a fascinating fit."

"He's got the size and length that you love, he's big-time explosive," Jeremiah said. "It would be fun to see him on the other side of (Trevon) Diggs."

Jeremiah is also high on Georgia's Nakobe Dean, noting that his intelligence and leadership could free up Micah Parsons off the edge. Should the Cowboys want an interior offensive lineman, Jeremiah said they might need to wait until Day 2.

"I really like (Kentucky's) Luke Fortner," Jeremiah said. "I think he's going to be a long-term starter. (Boston College's) Zion Johnson, who we've talked about. I think both those guys would be good fits. There's actually a lot of love on the streets in talking to folks around the league for Luke Goedeke from Central Michigan."

This era of football has produced more quality wideouts than ever. As recent drafts have shown, great ones can be found on Day 2 of the draft. Jeremiah expects the Jaguars to be in the market for a receiver with the No. 33 overall pick, and there's one in particular he loves for Trevor Lawrence.

"Jameson Williams, where does he go?" Jeremiah said. "Does he still go in the first round off that injury? If he doesn't, you're the Jags, shoot, you talk about hitting a home run. When he gets healthy, you've got a dynamic player for Trevor to work with."

Jeremiah said a wild card at this draft slot is George Pickens of Georgia. Should the Jags wait, Jeremiah likes Western Michigan's Skyy Moore, North Dakota State's Christian Watson, Purdue's David Bell and South Alabama's Jalen Tolbert.

The Jets are still rebuilding their offensive line and are expected to continue investing there with the draft. That shouldn't be a problem given that they hold pick Nos. 4 and 10 overall. Jeremiah has mocked Ickey Ekwonu to step in and play at either tackle or guard for New York, which selected Alijah Vera-Tucker a year ago and saw him successfully transition from tackle to guard.

"Ekwonu, to me, if he went to the Jets, Year 1 would be playing guard, and I think him and Vera-Tucker would be two of the strongest, best young guard duo in the NFL," Jeremiah said. "This dude is so powerful and so strong, and he would have no issues kicking inside there."

The Ravens took a step back in the trenches in 2021, leaving both units as priorities this offseason. With the No. 14 overall pick, their top targets don't figure to be available. But Jeremiah believes Trevor Penning would be an ideal match.

"When you watch him, I'm like, this guy is just a Raven," Jeremiah said. "The way he plays, the physicality, he's huge, he's 330 pounds, he's almost 6-foot-7. One of my favorite nuggets on him: The guy literally watches horror movies the night before the game to get into character."

DJ could also envision Baltimore eyeing Michigan defensive back Daxton Hill.

"I think that if you're looking at that defense and the Ravens trying to find one of those unique players like a Daxton Hill, whose ability to play in multiple locations, in the nickel, to play high, that's why like I wouldn't be shocked at all if that was their pick," Jeremiah said. "You have the Harbaugh connection, you have the defensive coordinator there, and this guy's ability to do so many different things and allow you to be versatile and be able to change the picture if you want to after the snap. He gives you the luxury of being able to do all those things."

Count the Dolphins among the many times looking to bolster their offensive line. That could be where they invest with two picks in the top 50 (Nos. 29 and 50). In light of Mike McDaniel bringing his fabled running scheme to Miami, Jeremiah likes Luke Fortner, Zion Johnson and Cole Strange of Chattanooga.

"Cole Strange is somebody that I think all those outside zone teams are going to love," Jeremiah said. "He can really move. He started 44 games. Only one of them was at center, but then he goes to the Senior Bowl and played center all week and was really competitive."

In his initial 2022 mock draft, Jeremiah had the Bengals drafting center Tyler Linderbaum. (He now has Linderbaum going No. 26 overall to the Titans and Cincinnati taking OT Bernhard Raimann). Jeremiah isn't sure where Linderbaum will go -- DJ has him as his No. 19 overall prospect -- but he still likes the Iowa product for the Bengals.

"He's everything you want from an intelligence and a toughness standpoint," Jeremiah said. "There's just times where he gets a little bit of size on his nose, and he struggles a little bit with that. Here's where the challenge of trying to slot him in. He's a center only who really kind of fits the outside zone teams who really want a center that's athletic and can move. If you don't need a center, you cross all those teams off."

Quarterback is clearly the Steelers' biggest offseason priority. The only question is whether they address that need through free agency, a trade or the draft. With Kenny Pickett expected to be off the board by the No. 20 overall pick, Jeremiah could see Pittsburgh favoring Ole Miss' Matt Corral over Malik Willis, North Carolina's Sam Howell and Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder.

"He can give them some of the athleticism it looks like from listening that's something they're really after, and that's why you hear Willis' name mentioned," Jeremiah said of Corral. "Corral is not as big, not as strong, but he can probably throw it a little bit better, a little more consistently at this point in time, and he does give you some of that athleticism to be able to move around. So the more you kind of look at the Steelers and what they're looking for, maybe Matt Corral."

The Raiders have a new regime in place, but it figures to look awfully familiar given GM Dave Ziegler's and HC Josh McDaniels' deep Patriots roots. With great needs at the skill positions, Jeremiah could see Las Vegas' first-round pick being spent on Cincinnati CB Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner or a speedy wideout.

"I look at (Chris) Olave and (Jahan) Dotson as two guys with big-time speed who I think have that -- the intelligence and the polish that Josh McDaniels would really covet," Jeremiah said. "Those would be two names I think would really fit them with where they're picking."

That would be No. 22 overall. DJ currently has Mississippi State OT Charles Cross mocked to Vegas. Other possibilities he likes in this range include Bernhard Raimann and Minnesota's Daniel Faalele.

Despite boasting one of the better rosters in football, the Browns have some pressing needs to address this offseason. Jeremiah suspects they'll use the No. 13 overall pick on an edge rusher if impending free-agent Jadeveon Clowney departs. Otherwise, DJ thinks any one of three wideouts would be a good option for Cleveland.

"I love Garrett Wilson, so I wouldn't hate that at all," Jeremiah said. "I think I have all three of those wide outs, Treylon Burks (of Arkansas) up there and Drake London, all three of those guys I think would be great picks. It's just a matter of where you want to find the other positions, and most teams, if it's close, they're going to lean towards the edge rusher."

What was thought to be a deep receiving corps for the Cardinals proved to be top heavy with the extended absence of DeAndre Hopkins. Jeremiah thinks Chris Olave, Jahan Dotson or Jameson Williams would be a quality (and realistic) addition with the No. 23 pick. DJ's ideal selection for the Cards, however, is Treylon Burks.

"I would love to see Treylon Burks somehow get down there, but I don't think that's going to happen," Jeremiah said. "Just because some of that jet sweep stuff you could go with having to deal with Rondale Moore and his speed and that little compact package to all of a sudden going from that little Maserati to now you've got a big ol' SUV with Treylon Burks, who can do all that stuff. You can line him up in the backfield. You could do some of the Deebo Samuel stuff with him if you wanted to."

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