“If a draft could be a wild card, this one’s it…I doubt by Sunday night you’ll have all the answers to make you feel like you’re sure of anything this draft season.” – King on this year’s NFL Draft
“It’s not a star-studded group…I think Kenny Pickett is ready to come in and play right away…Malik Willis to me is like the ultimate wild card.” – Jeremiah on this year’s QB class
“He’s not the Bosa brothers, he’s not Myles Garrett, he’s not Chase Young. But he’s really good and provides very little risk.” – Jeremiah on having Michigan’s Adrian Hutchinson as his No. 1 player
STAMFORD, Conn. – Feb. 28, 2022 – Peter King speaks with NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah to preview the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, which begins tomorrow in Indianapolis, in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also discusses NFL television announcers, potential NFL Competition Committee rules proposals, and more.
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The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
DANIEL JEREMIAH & THE NFL DRAFT
King: “On Saturday evening, I downloaded NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s brain for one hour. I’d have loved four. The week-long NFL Scouting Combine starts Tuesday in Indianapolis, and as Jeremiah walked me through the good, the bad, and the meh, five truths became evident:
- Bad QB draft
- Good draft for edge players and wideouts
- Jacksonville has a good choice atop the draft
- Consensus top pick 59 days from round one? No overwhelming one
- You want to have lots of mid-round picks
Jeremiah to King on this year’s draft class: “One of the things I like about this draft is the uncertainty. There’s not one obvious player for Jacksonville at one. There are some intriguing players you’re going to have take risks on. A corner like [LSU’s] Derek Stingley – if he goes in the top five or he goes 40, I won’t be surprised. That’s going to be part of the fun of this draft. There’s so much we don’t know.”
King: “If a draft could be a wild card, this one’s it…I doubt by Sunday night you’ll have all the answers to make you feel like you’re sure of anything this draft season.”
King on the top of Jeremiah’s draft board: “He’s got Michigan’s (Adrian) Hutchinson – so polished, so safe – as his top-rated player, and he’s got the next edge rusher number six overall, Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux. You’ll see some people have Thibodeaux even with Hutchinson, or better, because of his athleticism and potential.”
Jeremiah on Hutchinson: “It’s the elimination of as much risk as I can. If I’m picking up there in the top five, my team stinks and I need guys that I know can come in and make a difference on my football team, I’m trying to eliminate as much risk as I can while still getting a really, really good player. When I factor all those things in, Aidan Hutchinson comes out on top of the list for me…I think he’s got a chance to be a consistent double-digit sack guy in the NFL. He’s not the Bosa brothers, he’s not Myles Garrett, he’s not Chase Young. But he’s really good and provides very little risk.”
Jeremiah on comparing Hutchinson and Thibodeaux: “Number one he’s got more ways to get to the quarterback. He’s polished. He’s got a lot of tools in his bag that I don’t think Thibodeaux has at this point. And then I would say he just plays harder consistently from drive to drive, game to game. I don’t see Aiden Hutchinson ever take a snap off. I see it quite a bit with Thibodeaux.”
King on USC WR Drake London: “Is it just me, or could Drake London compete in the NBA dunk contest? The 6-foot-5 London played on the Trojans basketball team as a college frosh…It’s indicative of the kind of player Jeremiah thinks London will be in the NFL. Before his season ended last October with a broken ankle…he led college football with 19 contested catches, per Pro Football Focus…London looks like Terrell Owens in some of his tape, a big man who never met contact he doesn’t like.”
Jeremiah on London: “I’ve had conversations with teams that really love Drake London and they’ll say, man, he’s got so many contested catches! And then I’ve talked to teams that aren’t as high on him and they go, you know it’s all contested catches. He doesn’t separate. You take the exact same nugget, the exact same stat, some people love it, some people hate it. I tend to fall in the camp of loving what he does there.”
Jeremiah on Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson: “He can jump out of the gym. He reminds me of Justin Jefferson [in the 2020 draft]. I loved everything about Justin Jefferson. Everything he did was really clean – best route-runner in the draft. It’s panned out that way.”
Jeremiah on Alabama WR Jameson Williams, who is recovering from a torn ACL: “Somebody in the bottom of the first round could get a real gift. They’ll say, maybe we have to sit him the first half of the season as he recovers from this ACL. But it’s a straight ACL. He could be one of the best value picks in this draft.”
King on this year’s QB class: “There’s a very good chance Carolina (at 6 in the first round), Denver (9), or even Washington (11) could have their pick of any quarterback in the draft. It’s also possible that the lot of them could last till middle of the round. Too early to tell. But if you have a major quarterback need – Carolina, Denver and Washington all do – would you feel great about trying to solve it this year with a question mark?”
Jeremiah: “It’s not a star-studded group…I think Kenny Pickett is ready to come in and play right away…A good, solid starter. I’ve compared him to kind of a little more athletic version of a Matthew Hasselbeck if everything hits right for him. He was a good player for a long time.”
King: “Teams are not going to fall over themselves to draft ‘a little more athletic version of Matthew Hasselbeck.’ … That’s the issue with taking a quarterback here. You either take a low-ceiling player who might pan out into a good starter, or you take a (Malik) Willis, who absolutely will need to work with a good QB mentor for a year before you’d think of throwing into the fire…But if they all dropped out of the first round, and I needed a quarterback early in the second, I think I’d try to roll the dice with Willis and say I’m gonna gamble on greatness, and there’s a chance I could hit it big.”
Jeremiah on Liberty’s Willis: “Malik Willis to me is like the ultimate wild card. What you get right now is going to be a lot different than what he is two or three years down the road. Could be a huge payoff. But there’s some risks associated with that. As with any of these quarterbacks, I think it comes down to getting in the right fit with the right group of people and having proper patience.”
King on LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr.: “In 2019, as an LSU frosh, Stingley covered Ja’Marr Chase in practice and was competitive against him. He might have been the best cover corner in the country that season. But in 2020 and 2021, injuries limited Stingley to 10 games, and he’s still recovering from a Lisfranc foot injury from the past season.”
Jeremiah on Stingley: “I’ve seen the practice footage of him going up against Ja’Marr Chase from that time and he looks like a top five player. And then he’s played nothing like that player the last two years. But you have that image of the 2019 tape against Ja’Marr in your head. To me, he’s the total wild card.”
NEWS & NOTES
King on Joe Buck: “After Troy Aikman leapt…from Fox to ESPN…the focus is on Buck. He is 52. He is in the last year of his Fox contract. He is Fox Sports, having done the World Series and the biggest Fox NFL games for the last two decades. He is in his prime, and should be for years to come…I don’t know how Buck’s love of baseball factors into this. My guess is if it’s gone this far, he may want to leave, and I doubt Fox would want an admitted lame duck in such a high-profile gig. If so, we’ll see if Fox lets him out to join Aikman at ESPN. But Buck is the next domino to fall.”
King on Rams head coach Sean McVay: “In the end, he didn’t fall for the these-big-TV-jobs-might-not-be-there in-two-or-three-years storyline…He decided at 36 he wasn’t going to have many opportunities as golden as he has in L.A., with a defending Super Bowl champion, a quarterback and receivers he loves, and, he hopes, the best defensive player of the century, Aaron Donald, returning to try to repeat. Wherever McVay would coach in, say, 2026 would very likely not have all those benefits.”
King on the NFL Competition Committee: “I think the NFL Competition Committee is going to consider two rules changes on overtime in the next two months – first at the Competition Committee meetings at the combine this week, then at the owners’ meetings in Palm Beach in late March. One: Guarantee each team a possession in all postseason overtime games, even if the team with the first OT possession scores a touchdown. Two: Guarantee each team a possession in all games, even if the team with the first possession scores a TD. Two is less likely than one.”
King on overtime: “A month ago, I reported it was unlikely there would be enough momentum for an OT change for playoffs or for all games. But the absurdity of the major meaning of a coin flip in two mega-playoff games in the last three years are causing NFL power players to rethink what should be obvious…At the very least, owners should vote to make the playoff overtime rule fair. Here’s hope saner heads prevail, and all playoff games – at least – are not unjustly affected by the flip of a coin.”
King on Buccaneers guard Ali Marpet’s retirement: “I think any Bucs fan did a triple-take at mid-afternoon Sunday, seeing the retirement of guard Ali Marpet at age 28, after just seven seasons. The departure of the NFL’s sixth-rated guard in 2021 (via PFF, among those who played at least 600 snaps) leaves another hole in the Bucs’ lineup. It’s not as a big a hole as the one left by Tom Brady’s departure, of course. But when you lose one of your top starters, who’d been a solid rock in starting 68 of the team’s last 71 games, that’s a big blow.”
King on Brady: “I will not be surprised if Tom Brady, sometime in the next year or two, says he wants to play football again. Educated hunch.”
King on the NFL in Germany: “I think, if you want a better bet, Tampa Bay is likely to be the host team for the first-ever regular-season NFL game in Germany this season. It would have worked perfectly for the NFL, and for Germans jonesing for a real NFL game, to see the Tom Brady-led Bucs come to Allianz Arena in Munich mid-season. But the prospect of the Bucs one year removed from winning a Super Bowl is more attractive than the other NFC candidate that could have hosted in Germany this year, Carolina.”
King on Colts QB Carson Wentz: “The Colts traded a load for Wentz last spring, and after one year, apparently Colts coach Frank Reich – his coordinator in the Eagles’ Super Bowl season – didn’t see enough to want him back. That’s about as damaging a blow as Wentz could have gotten in his first post-Philly season.”
King on QB Deshaun Watson: “It’s crazy that the trade situation of Deshaun Watson is as muddled today as it was on opening day almost six months ago and at the trading deadline four months ago…It’s insane that the Watson camp has not driven this situation to a conclusion, regardless how much it might hurt Watson’s reputation and wallet. As it stands now, a team that waits to see the legal outcome for Watson might be passing on the majority of this year’s QB crop and maybe even the draft. I just don’t understand slow-playing this for a year, and now longer.”
Read the full FMIA column here and catch the weekly Peter King Podcast here.
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A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May 2019 that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.