For years, professional scout Daniel Jeremiah has made the best out of even the most humble of situations.
At a small high school in San Diego, Jeremiah set his county's passing record. He received a division one scholarships and began he college career at UL Monroe, eventually transferring to Appalachian State.
When the NFL didn't come calling, ESPN did.
Jeremiah worked as a spotter for Sunday Night Football until running into T.J. McCreight who was a classmate of Jeremiah's older brother and also happened to be in the Baltimore Ravens' personnel department. McCreight offered his young acquaintance a job in the front office.
McCreight moved westward with Phil Savage who became the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. The two brought Jeremiah with them as a college scout. When Eric Mangini was handed the reins to the Browns organization, Jeremiah had time left on his contract, but no job.
Daniel Jeremiah made the best of that situation too.
Starting on Twitter, Jeremiah became a personal NFL scout to NFL fans everywhere. The Twitter account expanded to become a Web site, which now features daily podcasts of NFL and NFL Draft-related content.
Jeremiah agreed to sit down with MLive.com and answered 40 minutes of questions testing the limits of his knowledge about the obscure athletes known to Lions fans as the home team.
On the role of a scout in a franchise
First and foremost, Jeremiah has no inside knowledge of the Detroit organization and was diplomatic when talking about the former regime—what could have gone wrong; why things shook out as they did.
A lion's share of the blame rests with missed first round opportunities – from the unfortunate run on receivers to what he considers a reach for Gosder Cherilus.
"Miss on one or two (first rounders), it sets the franchise back, miss on three or four and it's an enormous hole to climb out of."
In describing the role of the scout, he made a distinction between "coach-driven" and "GM-driven" teams. The Lions, who so often selected players craved by system coaches like Mariucci, Martz and Marinelli, seem like the former.
In a coach-driven system, scouts have little say in final draft decisions—giving only recommendations. In a GM-driven system, like Phil Savage and Ozzie Newsome run, scouts have a much bigger say, voting on board placement in a football democracy.
Each team is different, but in both Cleveland and Baltimore, prospects were graded based on system-specific criteria, labeled as "starters for our team," "bench players for our team," and "special teamers for our team."
The personnel department should go into a draft with an exact idea of what to do. A "paint-by-colors" approach, as Jeremiah calls it. An approach not seen in Detroit in years. (Credit to MotownSports.com member DjHutch for the question.)
Hope in Detroit
Jeremiah believes Martin Mayhew has done an impressive job, crediting much of his success to hard work and constantly being out on the trail. He sees a synergy between the coaching and personnel departments that previously didn't exist. That synergy led to an "impressive" 2009 draft class full of "core players."
An integral part of that core is quarterback Matthew Stafford who Jeremiah believes was "the right pick" for Detroit. He likened Stafford brushing off a bum left shoulder to lead Detroit to a comeback win against Cleveland to Philip Rivers' gutsy play for San Diego on a torn ACL. Detroit is Stafford's team now, and that can't be overestimated.
At this point last year, Jeremiah had a higher grade on Mark Sanchez, but believes the two careers are neck and neck, and that New York would have gotten just as far with Stafford under center. Both pale in comparison to 2010 QB prospect, Sam Bradford, who Jeremiah calls the most accurate QB he's ever rated. (Kudos MotownSports member Hongbit and MLive Lions Forum member 4thn1 for the questions.)
Another pick that impressed the former scout was the selection of Sammie Lee Hill who has size and "Haynesworth-like" talent to get up field.
The product is less impressive than the pick though. Hill, from Stillman College, was so devoid of game tape that Detroit made the decision on a supply of grainy images barely decipherable by the human eye.
In Baltimore, Ozzie Newsome once put new guys under a bit of an initiation, giving them the grainiest tape he had of a small school offensive guard prospect. If the new scout can get through the infuriating tape, he'll be pleased to know he was watching a young Larry Allen, proving diamonds do exist in the rough.
Other thoughts about the 2009 Lions' draft class:
- Brandon Pettigrew: Hindsight is 20/20. At the time, Pettigrew was the right pick. Michael Oher had a lot of bad tape and Pettigrew was the more consistent college player.
- Louis Delmas: Superstar. There is a difference between guys who pick off the football and those who score with it. Delmas is the latter.
- DeAndre Levy: Perfect example of the coaching staff getting the perfect player for what they want to do. Probably would not have been as successful with any other team.
- Derrick Williams: Chance to be, at best, a solid fourth receiver.
- Zack Follett: At worst, a special teams demon.
For the rest of the interview, including Daniel Jeremiah's thoughts on the 2010 Draft, go to MLive.com