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2024 NFL Draft: Five takeaways from Daniel Jeremiah's pre-NFL Scouting Combine conference call

NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah held his annual pre-NFL Scouting Combine conference call with members of the media on Thursday, answering questions for two-plus hours. Here are five takeaways from the marathon event.

Tune in for live coverage of the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine beginning Feb. 29 on NFL Network and NFL+.

1) Mahomes-Williams comp: The debate about what the Bears should do with the first overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft rages on, but passing on USC's Caleb Williams could mean giving up a chance to select a player that has more in common with All-World quarterback Patrick Mahomes than you might think.

Jeremiah detailed the similarities he sees between the Trojans star and the Chiefs' three-time Super Bowl champion on Thursday.

"You don't want to compare somebody to the best player on the planet, but just in terms of how (Williams) kind of plays, with the creativity and a little flair and all the different throws he can make in terms of driving the ball, layering the ball, extending plays, all those things, there are similarities there," Jeremiah said.

"(Mahomes) needed some time to clean things up and got a chance to sit for a year (in Kansas City). Obviously, I don't think Caleb is going to be afforded the same luxury in that department. But I think you can put a plan in place where you put more on his plate the longer that he goes.

"Mahomes' situation at Texas Tech was, I thought, very similar to Caleb's situation at USC. ... Pat's last year at Texas Tech, they were 128th in scoring defense. (In 2023) USC was 121st. (Williams) was constantly chasing points. I thought that led to some of the habits that creeped in a little bit. ... He lost eight games at USC. They gave up an average of 43 points in those games. He was 12-0 when they managed to allow less than 34 points. It's tough to play quarterback when you're chasing points like that constantly."

It's no surprise, then, that Jeremiah said Chicago should take Williams No. 1, barring a truly jaw-dropping offer to deal the pick away. Of course, such a move likely means an accompanying trade of Justin Fields before he enters Year 4. It seems clear that Jeremiah views Williams' potential in a different tier from that of the incumbent starter.

"I know one or two Super Bowls every 10 years you'll get a Nick Foles magic carpet ride with an unbelievable team," he said later during Thursday's conference call. "The rest of them seem to be won by the Patrick Mahomes and Tom Bradys of the world -- the elite guys. If you have a chance to go out there and get one of these guys who can be elite, I think you've got to take your shot if you're the Bears."

2) QB fit for Commanders: If the Bears do take Williams first, the Commanders would then face a decision at No. 2, where they could be debating between North Carolina's Drake Maye and LSU's Jayden Daniels.

Jeremiah said he believes any of this year's top QBs could work well in offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury's system, but he's leaning Maye (listed at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds by UNC) over Daniels (listed at 6-4, 210 by LSU) when it comes to the best fit for Washington.

"To me, it's more about kind of the ceiling of what you think they can be," he said. "Drake Maye, with just having a little more prototypical size and playing in kind of a rugged division, that might be more of a decision-making point more so than the offense would be."

3) Best move for Patriots: If quarterbacks come off the board with the first two picks of the draft, the Patriots' pick at No. 3 could become very attractive to a QB-needy team desperate to land one of the top three signal-callers available but drafting lower down the board. So, what's the best play for New England in that scenario? The Patriots could take the best QB remaining, but would they be better off trading down or staying put and addressing another massive need by selecting a wide receiver like Ohio State's Marvin Harrison Jr.?

Jeremiah said a trip to Foxborough during the 2023 season sticks out in his mind when assessing the options.

"To me, it would be tough to pass on a quarterback," he said. "You're not guaranteed to be up (at No. 3) again. ... Just being in that stadium last year, it was kind of -- I didn't recognize it. Obviously, the team wasn't good. But there had been so much energy and juice in that building every other time I had been there, and it was just so flat. It wasn't just a bad team, it was a boring team. There was no juice, no excitement whatsoever. Whichever (quarterback) is there, if it's any one of those top three quarterbacks (are available), those guys would bring so much energy and life to your franchise. It just feels right. You've got new leadership in place. It's kind of like this whole new chapter for the New England Patriots.

"I love Marvin Harrison Jr. I love him. He is a great player, but it would hard with where they're set up right now at that position to pass up a quarterback."

4) Receivers rule: Speaking of Jeremiah's adoration for Harrison, he mentioned on Thursday there's a case to be made that the three highest-graded prospects in this year's draft are all wide receivers -- Harrison, LSU's Malik Nabers and Washington's Rome Odunze.

"You have different flavors," he said. "With Marvin, you kind of get the big power forward who has some really good quickness for a big guy and tracks the ball extremely well. Odunze is going to be close to 220 pounds. I think you're going to see him run in the low 4.4s (at the combine), and he's got unbelievable tracking skills to go up and get it.

"Nabers is just like a stick of dynamite. He's super, super explosive. Just get the ball in his hands and let him go. I think there's more to him in terms of a route runner. I think he'll get more opportunities to show that at the next level. He is ultra explosive."

With the Cardinals holding the fourth pick and QBs potentially going 1-2-3, Arizona could be in position to start the anticipated early pass-catcher run.

5) The cost of (trade) business: The price to trade up for a quarterback this year could be high, but that doesn't mean we won't see those deals made. Jeremiah said he's sensing a lack of excitement when it comes to the wave of QB prospects that could be coming a year from now, which could spur bold moves this spring.

So, what would a team like the Giants, holding the sixth pick, have to give up to move into the top three if they decide Daniel Jones isn't the answer at quarterback? To get to No. 3, New York would potentially need to trade the sixth pick, their two second-round picks this year (Nos. 39 and 47) and a second-rounder in next year's draft, per Jeremiah.

"I would not rule that out," he said. "I know you've got one more year of Daniel Jones before they can kind of get out of that contract, but I think that would be something that would be very much in play."

For the QB-needy Raiders, Jeremiah said vaulting from their pick at No. 13 to No. 3 could mean parting with the 13th pick, a first- and third-round pick in 2025 and a first-round pick in 2026.

In other words, it would not be cheap to make such a move.

The Broncos -- who could soon be splitting with Russell Wilson -- would once again need to mortgage the future for a quarterback if they are going to vault from their spot at No. 12 into the range to land one of the top-tier QB prospects. That might seem to give them the longest odds to make such a move, considering they don't currently have a second-round pick in this year's draft. Still, though, Jeremiah wasn't shutting the door.

"It would be tough," he said. "You have no second-round pick. There are other holes on the roster. I would say Sean (Payton) is going to have what he's looking for in the position. To me, if you 100 percent fall in love, ... if you have conviction, I don't have any problem with it even if you might have some other holes to fill. I think that's what it comes down to. You don't make that type of a move for a guy you like. You make that type of a move for a guy you think has a chance to be really special. That would be my thought process there."

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