Former pro scout on Gators in 2010 NFL Draft

By Adam Silverstein
February 19, 2010

With the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine coming up on Feb. 24 and the NFL Draft just over two months away, OGGOA sat down with former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah of Move The Sticks to pick his brain about departed Florida Gators players participating in the combine and eligible to be selected from April 22-24. Jeremiah was completely candid in our discussion, pointing out qualities he liked in each player while explaining why certain Gators might fall further than some may expect. In addition to his Web site, Jeremiah also offers comprehensive NFL scouting coverage on Twitter (@MoveTheSticks) as well as with his brand new podcast (also available on iTunes).

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Obviously scouting is about hitting and not missing on prospects. What qualities separate a successful NFL scout from the rest of the pack?
DANIEL JEREMIAH: Successful NFL scouts know what they are looking for. If you go into a school knowing what makes a good player and what fits your team, you are way ahead of the curve.

AS: Is there one player in particular who you were dead-right on over your six years in the league? Perhaps one you overrated going into the draft?
DJ: Several of both instances. I really felt that Reggie Bush would become the biggest playmaker in the NFL. He has been very good but not up to the level I thought he would be performing. I felt very strongly about Roddy White and DeMarcus Ware, even though they came out of lesser known programs. Both should have been top five picks.

AS: Let’s get this out of the way: I know you were able to get a good look at Tim Tebow both through your extensive tape watching as well as in-person at the Senior Bowl. Assuming for a second he is able to correct his release, what else do you believe will eventually hold him back from being a successful starting quarterback in the NFL?
DJ: He needs to improve his downfield accuracy. He is much better on lob throws (fades, corner routes, deep posts) than he is on drive throws. That is my second biggest concern after improving his release.

Read more of his thoughts on Tebow and the rest of the Gators after the break!

AS: Todd McShay and Mel Kiper have been the most adamant to the media that Tebow will fail as a quarterback. Some would argue they have staked their careers on it. Will you make that same assertion? Either way, why are scouts so confident he will succeed at H-back, a position he has never played before?
DJ: There are no sure busts in the NFL just as there are no sure hits. Drafting is always about calculating risk. Drafting Tebow in the first round would be a tremendous risk in my opinion. However, in the top of the third round, I think the reward could be worth the risk for the right team.

AS: Before his DUI arrest in December, Carlos Dunlap was being billed by many as the best defensive end in the draft and a potential top-five pick. He has since universally fallen to the late first round in projections. How do you have him rated and what current NFL player can you compare him to?
DJ: I think he is a classic boom/bust player. In my opinion, he is the sixth or seventh [best] defensive lineman in this draft. This is a good year at the position. The two players he reminds me of are Jamaal Anderson of the [Atlanta] Falcons and Calais Campbell of the [Arizona] Cardinals. Both players flashed big time ability coming out of college. One of them has hit (Campbell) and one of them has been below average (Anderson). That is the true essence of boom/bust.

AS: On the other end of the spectrum, Joe Haden’s stock rose throughout the season as he contained almost every receiver he faced. Are there any concerns about his size or has his immense ability squashed any doubts about him?
DJ: If he was 6’1”, we would be talking about a top three pick. He is a very good player with excellent speed, toughness and instincts. He is physical versus the run and has outstanding ball skills. I thought he was a better version of successful young [Cincinnati Bengals CB] Leon Hall.

AS: The Gators had a two-headed monster return in 2009 with Tebow and Brandon Spikes, but injuries including an Achilles plagued Spikes and hurt his production all season. He was an absolute beast in 2008 and was initially thought to be an easy first round pick. How did you evaluate Spikes, where do you see him being drafted and what is his ceiling in the NFL?
DJ: I think Spikes will get picked in the late first round if he runs OK. If he runs slow, I think he will go in the first half of round two. He is an ideal 3-4 inside backer. He has the size and strength to take on guards. He is a little stiff in space and lacks the ideal range to be a pure 4-3 MLB. He could do it, but I like him better in the 3-4.

AS: By all accounts, Riley Cooper helped himself out immensely at the Senior Bowl. However, he did not have the production and impact that many recent Florida receivers did while in Gainesville. Is he talented enough to be a starting NFL wide receiver?
DJ: I really like Cooper. I think he has a perfect mix of size/speed/agility/instincts. He is able to drop his weight and get in and out of cuts quickly for a bigger WR. He has a little buzz about him in the scouting community. I think you could see him factor in the second round before it’s all said and done

AS: Is Maurkice Pouncey universally considered the top C/G in the upcoming draft? If so, do you have him rated higher than guys like Alex Mack last year and do you see him more as a center or guard in the league?
DJ: He is very comparable to Alex Mack, [though] Mack a little more physical and Pouncey has better balance. Both guys have the ability to be top five centers for a long time. I think Pouncey is one of the safest picks in this draft. I see him going in the 20s.

AS: I noticed that you recently compared Aaron Hernandez to a Chris Cooley or Frank Wycheck, but most fans are hoping he is more of a Tony Gonzalez or Kellen Winslow, Jr. Why is that your stance on Hernandez, and will he ultimately be a first-round pick?
DJ: Gonzo and K2 are much taller guys. [My] biggest concern with Hernandez is his lack of height. You don’t see many 6’2” and under tight ends in the NFL. I like him as a more HB-type player. Wycheck had a fantastic career, and I think Hernandez will as well. He is excellent after the catch. He’s able to make defenders miss and shows the burst to pull away. I really like him.

AS: Other Gators who will be working out at the combine include S Major Wright (who came out early), DE Jermaine Cunningham, LB Ryan Stamper, LB Dustin Doe, WR David Nelson and KR Brandon James. Have any of them stood out to you on film? Out of that group, do you project that any go undrafted?
DJ: I like Cunningham as a pass rusher. I think he will probably go in the third round but could sneak into the second. He uses his hands well and has a nice variety of moves to get to the QB. He struggles at the point of attack in the run game as a DE. He will be worked out as a LB by the 3-4 teams, and that might be his best fit. None of the other players really stood out in my tape study. I didn’t really understand why Wright declared early. Thought he could use an extra year.



Jeremiah spent six years in the NFL as a scout with the Baltimore Ravens (2003-06) and Cleveland Browns (2007-08) before opening Move The Sticks.

5 Comments

  1. SC Gator says:

    That was a very logical, well thought out breakdown on everyone… a nice switch from the over-the-top irrationality (both for and against players) of the McShays and Kipers of the draft world.

  2. Dude says:

    Nice interview.

  3. chris says:

    think haden and wright should return for senior year..

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