After firing Dave Caldwell, the Jaguars are one of four NFL teams that don't currently have a general manager. Trent Baalke is presently serving as the interim GM for the Jags, but Shad Khan is likely to bring in some new blood to guide the Jaguars into the next era of the franchise. With loads of draft capital, the most salary cap space in football, and a fair amount of young talent already in the building, picking the right general manager for the job is critical. If the next GM gets the 2021 offseason right, it could set the Jaguars up for success over the next half-decade and beyond.
Several candidates seemingly make sense, and over the next few weeks, I'll take a look at some of the hot names, including Joe Hortiz, Baltimore's Director of Player Personnel, and Mike Borgonzi, Kansas City's Director of Player Personnel. Today, however, I'll break down Daniel Jeremiah, who is currently NFL Network's lead draft analyst.
Jeremiah was the starting QB at Northeastern Lousiana in 1997 and then Appalachian State from '98-'00 and quickly jumped into scouting after his collegiate career ended. He worked with the Ravens as their west coast scout from '05-'06, where he learned first hand from legendary general manager Ozzie Newsome, who he credits with helping shape his draft philosophy. Jeremiah says he "got a master class in player evaluation from Newsome. Getting a chance to soak up his wisdom was the Harvard of football education." Jeremiah was also a national scout for the Browns and, most recently, served as the Eagles west coast scout from 2010-'12.
The obvious question here is why he got out of scouting instead of furthering his career. The answer is simple: family. Jeremiah is a family man and struggled to find a balance between work and home. The hours were grueling. Jeremiah told The Athletic's Sheil Kapadia that he elected to leave the Eagles after the 2012 season to pursue television, in part so he could spend more time with his wife and young children.
He hasn't ruled out the possibility of returning to the NFL, but according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, who is close to Jeremiah, it needs to be the right job. Jeremiah was a leading candidate to land the Jets' GM job in 2019, and according to Mortensen, has turned down offers to be the head of an NFL team's personnel department one or two times.
But the opportunity to take over as a team's GM with a top pick, loads of young talent, and a bevy of cap space might be too much for Jeremiah to turn down.
He's been scouting draft classes for a long time and is well respected in that regard. Jeremiah has an eye for talent. He's personable and would thrive in terms of connecting with the people within the building. Leaning on what he learned from Ozzie Newsome and other personnel experts has served DJ well throughout the years.
The move from draft analyst to NFL GM is isn't unprecedented. Raiders' GM Mike Mayock held the same position at NFL Network that Jeremiah currently holds. Mayock has the Raiders in position to compete for a playoff spot in his second year with the team.
The most important aspect of the job will be landing a franchise quarterback at the top of the 2021 draft. Jeremiah accurately identified Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, and Justin Herbert as the top three quarterbacks in the 2020 class. He also impressively labeled Kyler Murray as the top quarterback in 2019. But he, like many scouts, had Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, and Josh Rosen ranked ahead of Josh Allen in 2018. Looking back at the 2017 Draft, Deshaun Watson was DJ's top quarterback, but Patrick Mahomes wasn't even in his top 50 prospects, while busts like Deshone Kizer and Mitch Trubisky were ranked closely behind Watson.
It's been a mixed bag for Jeremiah at quarterback based on his recent big boards, so getting a feel for his process on addressing the QB position in 2021, would be a necessary prerequisite. He's noted that It appears that it'll be hard to miss on Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields, who both are incredibly clean quarterback prospects.
Recently Jeremiah has acknowledged that pure pocket passers are not the way, noting that the QBs need to be creative and be able to throw from the pocket while also possessing the ability to make plays on the move.
Daniel Jeremiah also has a connection to Jacksonville. His podcast co-host, Bucky Brooks, played cornerback for the Jaguars and currently serves as an analyst for Jaguars.com. Brooks also has a background in scouting and might potentially be interested in joining a Jeremiah led staff.
Overall, Jeremiah's mentors, personality, connections around the league, eye for scouting, and adaptability make him an intriguing potential candidate. If the Jaguars do come knocking, I suspect Jeremiah would strongly consider the offer. Hiring a public figure like Jeremiah would undoubtedly be a flashy move, but would it be the right one?
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