Ahead of the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, NFL Network draft analysts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks took questions from fans online on Friday. D.J. and Bucky were asked about the upcoming combine, their top prospects and their experiences in scouting. Here are our 11 favorite moments from the Reddit AMA, hosted by the official NFL Reddit account.
1. What is the best draft you both feel like you nailed best in your mock drafts? And a follow up, what is the best route to becoming a scout in the NFL?
Brooks: Mock drafts run counter to how scouts think. You’re trying to think how other people think when you do a mock draft — it makes it hard to track after the fact. So I don’t have any favorite years of mock drafting, they’re all unique and look different at the end of it.
Jeremiah: I do my mock drafts with my ears. I do my Top 50 rankings with my eyes. When you’re trying to figure out the puzzle, I’ve gotten to the point where I want to get at least 27 or 28 players who are in the top 32 drafted — doesn’t matter as much if the order is right. I want to make sure I’m talking about the right guys. There’s a website out there that grades mock drafts, but I’d be petrified to see where I stack up on that list.
2. As a scout, what’s it like being in the draft room when a guy you vouched for/scouted heavily is picked? Do you feel a lot of validation, or do your nerves take over a bit?
Jeremiah: You literally get high-fives in the room. You have about 10-15 seconds of pride and elation before the worry sets in that you hope this guy doesn’t suck.
3. Are there telltale signs when scouting a QB that are clear red flags? Certain things that you have to see before you even begin to consider that player the guy?
Jeremiah: A red flag for me is the lack of poise. So, I want to try to find the opponents that are going to be able to put the pressure on them. If you have someone whose eyes drop and who are focused on the rush, that’s damn near impossible to overcome. QBs come in all shapes and sizes, but I don’t know any great QB that lacked poise.
4. Henry Ruggs or Jalen Reagor, especially in regards to how they’d fit with the Eagles?
Jeremiah: I don’t think it’s close. Reagor is a good player. Ruggs is on another level. Ruggs is faster and has more reliable hands. Ruggs only dropped one ball this year. Reagor’s drop percentage was 12.5%. Either one would fit with the Eagles because they’re trying to get more explosive. Coming off of Nelson Agholor‘s struggles, though, it seems like Eagles fans would be more comfortable with Ruggs.
Brooks: Ruggs is a more talented player. Both are explosive athletes but Ruggs is at another level. His pop and overall explosiveness is different.
5. Are NFL general managers higher on Jordan Love or Jacob Eason?
Brooks: I think Jordan Love would be the consensus. They may be smitten by Eason’s combination of size and talent but you’re talking about Love who has five-star potential. His arm talent, athleticism, improvisation — if you can harness that, you could have a superstar at the position.
Jeremiah: I talked to one team that loves Eason, but they might be the exception. But most teams I’ve talked to are more fond of Love.
6. Do you think the success of Patrick Mahomes will cause Love to get drafted higher than he should be? If that happens, do you think Love has a skill-set that is similar enough to justify it?
Jeremiah: I think he’s really talented. The Mahomes thing — a lot of people see similarities there. And the 2018 version of Jordan Love would be a top-five, top-10 pick guaranteed. A lot changed around him this year but I’d say he’s got the most upside of any QB in this draft class (but it comes with risk).
Brooks: I wrote about this for this week’s Scout’s Notebook. A lot of scouts missed on Mahomes, so we’ll grade Love on a curve because of what Pat has been able to do. If you flip Love’s 2018 and 2019 years, we’d be talking about him in the same conversation as Burrow and Tua.
7. Who are some under the radar off-ball linebackers who could be steals after Day 1?
Jeremiah: Logan Wilson from Wyoming is outstanding in coverage, very athletic, reminds me of Fred Warner. Another one is Malik Harrison from Ohio State, who is big, can play downhill and has tremendous range. He also won a dunk contest, which shows you want kind of an athlete he is.
8. Jeremiah and Brooks pair wide receivers to teams.
Jeremiah: Let’s go Raiders and Jerry Jeudy — and if they wanted to double up with a third round pick: Antonio Gandy-Golden. Let’s go Colts and Henry Ruggs. Broncos would be one who could grab Justin Jefferson. Buffalo, I would give a bigger WR like Tee Higgins or Laviska Shenault.
Brooks: I think Eagles could go with Brandon Aiyuk or KJ Hamler. The Packers could use a Jalen Raegor type. Laviska Shenault would be a great fit in Baltimore. Michael Pittman Jr. and his physicality would also fit with the Ravens.
9. Bucky, why do you have Tua Tagovailoa above Joe Burrow on your QB prospect list especially given Tua’s health concerns?
Brooks: I have Tua rated over Burrow because I feel like he has more talent and upside. When you grade a player, you grade for talent and don’t factor in health with the potential.
10. What are your favorite position groups to scout?
Brooks: In this year’s draft, it’s easy to fall in love with the WRs. There’s so many good ones. The WR position is a lot like a basketball team where you have to stack with players with a lot of different skills. This is one of the best WR draft classes we’ve seen.
Jeremiah: I’m always gonna be a quarterback guy. It doesn’t matter if it’s a year with a million QBs or two, that’s going to be my most enjoyable.
11. Who are prospects that are overrated by the media vs. scouts? Underrated?
Brooks: The one guy who I have a hard time with Jared Pinkney out of Vanderbilt. He didn’t necessarily stand out to me. Maybe other people are seeing something I’m not, but I’m not as high on him as other people are.
Jeremiah: Guy I’m higher on: Patrick Queen. I don’t know where other people have him, but he’s really talented and I like him a lot. Mekhi Becton, too. The tough one for me is Justin Herbert. I know some people think he’s a top-five QB, but I just updated my Top 50 that will be out on Monday and I have him as my No. 22 player.