PONIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – APRIL 17
By Leo Haggerty
First of all, and I will start EVERY article with this paragraph, sports pales in comparison with what is occurring with the Coronavirus. Hopefully, the columns that I, and the rest of our correspondents, provide you is a momentary escape from the trials and tribulations that Americans, and the rest of the world’s population, are experiencing. The COVID-19 is not a video game that you can press reset and get a new life. This is real and dangerous so, above all, be prudent and stay safe.
Had the opportunity to ask a couple questions of NFL Network Draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah during the NFL Draft Media Conference call. Below are his very telling answers to my questions.
LH : Running backs have been extremely devalued lately except the great ones. What traits made Saquon Barkley a top-5 pick?
DJ : Well, I mean, first of all, he’s a freak athletically, and then he was involved in the passing game, and you could see what he could do in the passing game. You know, drafting a running back high is going to get a lot of criticism from a lot of folks, but to me if you’re somebody that can be a weapon in the passing game, as well in the run game, while he can. I don’t know that it would be the smartest thing in the world if you want to get a second contract with those players. That’s been proven out. I think you can have a nice five- or six-year run of extreme production, but you’d better be able to compete and be a difference maker in the passing game, and Saquon Barkley has that ability. Not only can he run with power, not only can he hit some home runs with his speed, he can make you miss, he can run over you, but also he’s somebody you’ve got to worry about in the passing game, as well. You’ve got to be complete to have value at that position right now. It’s just the way that it is.
LH : A quick follow-up with that, when you’re evaluating a player, especially a quarterback like Jalen Hurts, does being a winner factor into that evaluation at all?
DJ : Well, it does for me. I know some people poke fun at that and laugh at it, but when you’ve done nothing but win your whole life and you’ve played well in big moments, that matters to me at that position. So I just think that’s contagious. You’ve got guys that understand what that environment looks like, they understand what it takes in big moments. So yeah, absolutely that helps the evaluation. It’s an easier sell in the draft room when you have the team accomplishments to go along with the individual stuff. Yeah, it matters to me at that position more than any other, obviously.
Remember, the Draft is not an exact science. The object is to compile as much relevant data to make as informed decision as possible.
Hopefully, this gives you a little bit of insight into Mr. Jeremiah’s thought process when it comes to evaluating potential NFL running backs and quarterbacks. It sure helped me.