On Friday, NFL.com draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah conducted his annual pre-Combine conference call with NFL reporters from across the country.
While he wasn’t asked any specific questions about what the Kansas City Chiefs will do in the draft — since the team won’t be picking a quarterback (or selecting in the draft’s top 10 picks) for many years, it may be quite a while before he is asked about the Chiefs in this yearly session — but he did give some insights that will be of interest to Kansas City fans.
In his most-recent first-round mock draft, Jeremiah projected the Chiefs would take Georgia EDGE Nolan Smith with the 31st pick. (Other other recent mocks have also sent Smith to Kansas City at 31).
Jeremiah said that Smith reminds him of what Philadelphia Eagles’ edge rusher Haason Reddick looked like before he was taken in the first round of the 2017 draft.
“He is just juicy,” said Jeremiah of Smith. “He has big-time juice and burst coming off the edge. He can change directions. He has a good feel at the top of his rush. He can bend and close. He will grab the wrist; he [does] a really good job of controlling the wrist of opponents.
“One of the plays with him you are watching [is against] Auburn. It’s special teams. They run a fake punt. He sniffs it out and makes a play. Just showed you the overall football player that he is — just a really good player.
In Jeremiah’s most-recent projection, five edge rushers are taken in the first eight picks of the first round — and three more are taken in the final six. Keion White of Georgia Tech goes to the Dallas Cowboys with the 26th pick and Kansas State EDGE Felix Anudike-Uzomah falls to the Eagles at 30 — so in Jeremiah’s estimation, any of those three might end up being available to Kansas City.
In particular, Jeremiah likes the former Wildcat.
“He can get off the ball and win with his hands,” he observed of Anudike-Uzomah. “He had to play a lot inside the tackle in kind of a [4i-technique] there on the inside shoulder of the tackle — so he didn’t get as much runway consistently. When you widened him out and gave him a runway, he was pretty dominant. [He] had a lot of production: eight career forced fumbles for him — eight in the last two years.”
But Jeremiah thinks there will be plenty of talent in the later rounds, too. He likes the potential of Iowa State defensive end Will McDonald, whom he expects to go in the second round.
“He is a little bit undersized at 241 pounds,” he said. “We’ll see what he weighs [at the Combine]. He can really get off the ball. He can win with spin moves. He can win just turning the corner — but burst and bend is his calling card.”
Jeremiah explained that Cyclones coach Matt Campbell thinks McDonald has the most upside of any former Iowa State player — a group that includes San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy and New York Jets running back Breece Hall.
“He was a 206-pound freshman,“ recalled Jeremiah of Campbell’s thoughts about McDonald. “They couldn’t block him in practice. They put him out there in a game. He has a sack in the first game. They’re like, ‘We need to redshirt him. He is only 206 pounds, but is he our best pass rusher?’”
Jeremiah believes there’s plenty of EDGE talent available even later.
“You know, a K.J. Henry from Clemson would be one,” the noted. “Andre Carter from Army. Zach Harrison, Ohio State. Dylan Horton from TCU. Like those types of guys? Those are good players. I think those guys are probably going to be in that third, fourth-round range.
And then there's Notre Dame defensive end Isaiah Foskey.
“He is going to test really well,” predicted Jeremiah, “so he might test his way out of that range and [be selected] up a little bit higher.”
Jeremiah is also high on Boston College wideout Zay Flowers — whom he projected to the New Orleans Saints at 29 in his most-recent mock draft — and has also been sent to the Chiefs at 31 in many other recent projections.
“I love Zay Flowers,” declared Jeremiah. “I know he is not the biggest guy in the world at a little over 5 feet 9 and 182 pounds — but he is a clone to T.Y. Hilton. I pulled this up today. When you look at their numbers — T.Y. Hilton and Zay Flowers — it is Flowers at 5 feet 9 1/2 and Hilton at 5 feet 9 1/2. Flowers 182 pounds, Hilton 183 pounds. Wingspan, 73 1/2 inches to 73 1/8 inches. We’ll see the testing when they run and all that.
“It’s one of those deals when you watch, gosh, he reminds you of T.Y. Hilton — and then when you pull the numbers they’re like twins. I think he is a great player. I think he is going to go somewhere into the late first into the early second round. We’ll see how he runs, but I’m a big fan of his.”