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Todd McShay previews 2022 NFL Draft, Jets and Giants needs

Todd McShay is a senior NFL draft analyst for ESPN, having worked for the company since 2006. This week, he will be part of ABC’s coverage the first two nights of the draft before sliding over to ESPN. 

Q: If you’re Joe Douglas, do you gamble on Jameson Williams at 10, or do you pick Garrett Wilson or Drake London, assuming the Jets go wide receiver there and there is no Deebo Samuel deal? 

A: It’s a tough call. I think Garrett Wilson will be off the board then, probably to Atlanta at 8. But if all three were on the board, I would personally take Garrett Wilson. What I would struggle with is Drake London versus Jameson Williams. I would probably go with Drake London, first of all you’re getting the whole season out of him. And he’s such a big target for a young quarterback in Zach Wilson. His catch radius and contested catches, it just gives a young quarterback an opportunity to put the ball out and allow a guy to go make a play. But if you’re asking me who’s gonna be the best receiver in this class three years from now, it’s Jameson Williams. 

Q: What do you suspect Douglas might do? 

A: The two things that scare most general managers, including Joe Douglas … What leads to busts most in the NFL when it comes to draft picks? It’s character and durability. But Drake and Jameson are both coming off of injury. But we’re also living in an age where an ACL isn’t what it used to be 10 years ago. My guess is he would lean Drake London. I don’t know their grades. If they have such a higher grade on Jameson Williams, then you take him. He’s got an opportunity to get four core players this year in the draft. To add risk to that equation would probably be going against what Joe believes. I can promise you this: I have not specifically asked him who he likes, Jameson Williams or Drake London, and I would never, but based on what I know when we’ve had philosophical conversations, durability and character are two things that he has worked hard to try to minimize the potential for busts or for players not working out. 

Todd McShay
Todd McShay
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Q: What was your Deebo evaluation and what kind of difference could he make in Mike LaFleur’s offense? 

A: I loved him coming out of South Carolina. Had a first-round grade on him based off the tape, but dropped him to the early second round. The reason being was because of the injury (broken right fibula in 2017), and when I spoke to coaches at South Carolina, they were frustrated with his weight gain and lack of ideal conditioning his final year. I distinctly remember loving his [yards after catch] ability and instincts as a pass catcher. He was also dynamic in the return game. He’s one of the best offensive weapons in the NFL. Having a wideout that creates with the ball in his hands as dynamically as Deebo is enormously helpful for any quarterback, especially a young guy like Zach Wilson. 

Q: Do you think offensive line is an option at No. 4 for the Jets? 

A: I think he’s gonna trust his board, honestly, that’s how he was raised in this profession. 

Q: What would you do at 4 if you were Jets GM and all three offensive linemen were available? 

A: I’d take [cornerback Ahmad] “Sauce” Gardner or Garrett Wilson. 

Q: How does this O-line class compare with the Andrew Thomas-Tristan Wirfs-Jedrick Wills-Mekhi Becton class of 2020, and where would you rank Evan Neal, Ickey Ekwonu and Charles Cross if they were in the same class? 

A: We’ve seen some really, really good offensive tackles enter the draft over the past few years. And the top of this year’s group — N.C. State’s Ikem Ekwonu and Alabama’s Evan Neal — are right in the mix. I gave them matching 93 grades, and they rank Nos. 2 and 3 on my board, respectively. Mississippi State’s Charles Cross isn’t too far behind at No. 15 with a 90 grade. I love Ekwonu’s mauling run-block traits and the power he plays with. Neal has an incredible combination of size, quickness and instincts, and Cross is such an easy mover in pass protection. Here’s how I’d stack the top tackles over the past three classes, based on how I evaluated them at the time they were drafted: 

1. Penei Sewell (2021) 

2. Rashawn Slater (2021) 

3. Ekwonu 

4. Neal 

5. Jedrick Wills Jr. (2020) 

6. Mekhi Becton (2020) 

7. Tristan Wirfs (2020) 

8. Andrew Thomas (2020) 

9. Cross 

I’ve been told by multiple people that the guy the New York Giants really like at No. 5 is Cross. It’s lying season, so I’ve learned not to put too much stock in what I hear this time of year. But it’s worth noting. 

Q: What would be an ideal first round for the Giants at Nos. 5 and 7? 

A: Offensive tackle at No. 5 and trade back from No. 7 to make sure you have draft collateral for 2023, which is shaping up to be a very strong QB class starting with Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud. 

Q: If you were Jaguars GM Trent Baalke, who would you draft, Aidan Hutchinson or Travon Walker, and why? 

A: I think Walker has a chance to develop into a great NFL player if he improves his hands as a pass rusher and becomes a more efficient finisher. His upside is exceptional. But I would take Hutchinson. He’s a much more proven commodity — 14 sacks last year compared to Walker’s 9.5 career sacks. Hutchinson’s shorter arms show up on tape, but he is so polished and prepared. He knows how to exploit offensive linemen because of his exceptional preparation, and he has a plan every time he rushes the QB. In addition, it’s rare to get the kind of leadership that Hutchinson brings as a DL. He’s an organizational pillar. 

Travon Walker (44) sacks Auburn quarterback Bo Nix.
Travon Walker (44) sacks Auburn quarterback Bo Nix.
Getty Images

Q: You played with Douglas at Richmond. What do you remember about him? 

A: Tough, strong, big, wide-bodied guy. Did everything right, technically sound. Just a grinder, loved the game. It was everything to him … emotionally involved in everything. But also one of the greatest dudes … good friend in college, remains a good friend. I’ll always remember, it was like big Oldsmobile he would always drive around and everyone would squeeze into. ’Cause we had to drive from our locker room to our practice field. So I can always remember like four massive offensive linemen (laugh) piling into his car. He’s just salt-of-the-earth good guy, real easy to get along with and talk to. 

Q: Is there an anecdote from on the field? 

A: In practice, when I was a freshman, the top three quarterbacks, there was like some kind of testing, and then one of our top three quarterbacks was injured, and I think I was fourth on the depth chart. And so I had to go in with the first team — it might have been summer camp, or whatever it was, And I’ll never forget getting in the huddle, and I was like stumbling through the play call and nervous and didn’t know what I was doing … no idea what I was doing. And I started the play call in the huddle, and I think I got the formation aspect of it wrong, and him kind of just snapping my shoulder pads and being like, “Hey, pull it together. You got this, you got this.” 

Q: Could you envision him in the role he’s in now? 

A: I didn’t know that’s what he wanted to do out of college, but he got with Phil Savage and Ozzie [Newsome] and those guys with the Ravens early on … so he was in the right place. I knew just because of his personality and how easy to get along with he is and how he kind of presents himself. … He’s a guy’s guy, but he’s just really personable, and wants to get to know people. I can remember my brother-in-law meeting him in Indianapolis — he was scouting somewhere, and my brother-in-law was there for like a work thing — and they met up somehow at the hotel restaurant. Just like how everyone he’s been in contact with in my life, whether I’m with him or not, everyone’s friendly with him and keeps in contact with him, that’s the kind of guy he is. It’s not on purpose that he does it, it’s just his nature. But I think it’s also really helpful when it comes to negotiating, dealing with people, managing people. … It’s not just a business to him, that’s who he is, he’s gonna take care of his. I remember talking with him before he got the job, and he was talking about he wants to bring in his guys or guys that he’s dealt with that he just respects and to make sure that they have as good a staff as they can possibly have, not just in terms of eyes for talent, but also getting along and building like a team. 

Joe Douglas speaks to the media Thursday.
Joe Douglas speaks to the media Thursday.
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

Q: When did you know that the scouting part of it was for you? 

A: I always loved it. I got an internship through my grandfather, a connection, he knew this guy named Gary Horton who worked at Arizona State and Illinois and then worked with the Browns with [Bill Belichick] and Tampa Bay for a little while as a scout. [Horton] left the league and wanted to start basically what he envisioned as a like a 33rd scouting department. I got an internship between my junior and senior year, and it worked out and he offered me basically to work during the season. I got injured my junior year, so I was working for the football team as kind of an undergraduate assistant. I would go to classes, go to practice, come back, and we had these apartments, four people would live in it, and I just took our first-floor closet and cleared it out. It was like, “Sorry guys, this is my office.” They’d be playing beer pong or hanging out at night, and I’d be in the closet just watching tape and trying to learn, ’cause he hired me when I was still a senior in college. And I think just sitting there and watching from a different lens, and trying to figure out who’s the best at what? What kind of wide receiver is he? Is he an X, is he a slot? It just fascinated me. I always loved the game and had a deep passion for the game, and then every part of it, the camaraderie and how much it matures a person and all the things that come with it, but specifically evaluating the talent and trying to figure out. … I don’t know, it’s like a competition you me, I guess, seeing if I can find the best players. 

Q: How and when did your love of football begin? 

A: As a kid, my grandfather, my mom’s dad, worked for Bo Schembechler at Michigan. They had like area scouts, area recruiters. And I used to fly up there a couple of times a year from Massachusetts to Ohio, and then we would drive up to the games, and I got to meet Bo dozens of times and just go into Ohio State-Michigan games and Michigan-anyone really. I just loved college football, which was kind of foreign to all my friends growing up in New England where everything was pro sports. 

Q: Any Bo anecdotes? 

A: I’ll never forget him showing up at my grandfather’s funeral, and I gave the speech at the end, and him giving me a big hug. The fact that he cared enough and appreciated my grandfather, would call my grandfather every single night when he was in hospice just to check in on him. Considering everything that he had going on in his life and all the people that he’d come across, the fact that he took the time to do that, call my grandfather, and then make the trip down to Huron, Ohio, right next to Sandusky and just be there. And the big hug he gave me after, and told me stories about my grandfather, that was really cool. 

Q: Who was your boyhood idol? 

A: Roger Clemens. We didn’t have any quarterbacks in New England … or Dan Marino if it’s football. That’s probably why I started on No. 13. 

Q: You wore 13? 

A: Yeah, in high school and a little bit in college … baseball and basketball and everything, yeah. 

Todd McShay
Todd McShay
Getty Images

Q: And that was because of Marino? 

A: It started with Marino, but I just like the number. I’m not superstitious at all, so I kind of joked about it, you know? No one else wanted it because they were superstitious. I liked having it. 

Q: So you hated the Yankees, I would assume. 

A: Absolutely. With great passion. I’ll never forget crying standing on my mom’s bed when [Bill] Buckner booted the [Mookie Wilson] ball. I was 9 years old. So I grew very quickly to hate the Mets as well (laugh). 

Q: How about when Bill Parcells took over as Patriots coach in 1993? 

A: I was fired up. I stopped being a Patriots fan once I got into all this. I was a Patriots fan while they were doing all the losing. I’ll never forget I got kicked out of my family’s Super Bowl party. It was the first time in my life that they had been in the Super Bowl, against the Bears. I think they missed a field goal right before the end of the half, they were getting beat bad, and I screamed the F-word in front of my parents at this big Super Bowl party. And I never got to see the second half of that Super Bowl. I don’t think I missed a whole lot, but I was immediately grounded (laugh). 

Q: You were recruited by Richmond. Did you have other offers? 

A: Davidson, JMU [James Madison], Liberty and Union College in New York. A whole bunch of us were recruited — Massholes as I like to call us (laugh) — by Jim Reid, who was the defensive coordinator at Boston College. I kind of met Jim Reid when he was at BC, and he got the head coaching job at Richmond, and out of like 25 freshmen in our class, I want to say at least half were from the state of Massachusetts, so it was like Mass invading Virginia in our freshman class at Richmond. 

Q: What kind of quarterback were you? 

A: Slow … pocket passer. I was 6-1 and, I don’t know, 190 pounds in high school as a senior. So I was undersized, I ran like a 4.9. 

Q: Who was a better quarterback, you or Daniel Jeremiah? 

A: Definitely Daniel. 

Q: How do you know? Did you ever watch him? 

A: No, but he played at App[alachian] State, so … 

Q: What position, if he played college ball, would you project Mel Kiper to play? 

A: Um … placeholder? 

Todd McShay (right) and Mel Kiper Jr. (left) on set during the 2019 NFL Draft.
Todd McShay (right) and Mel Kiper Jr. (left) on set during the 2019 NFL Draft.
Allen Kee / ESPN Images

Q: Three dinner guests? 

A: Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, Michael Jordan. 

Q: Favorite movie? 

A: “Jaws.” 

Q: Favorite actor? 

A: Denzel Washington. 

Q: Favorite actress? 

A: Mila Kunis. 

Q: Favorite singer/entertainer? 

A: Van Morrison. 

Q: Favorite meal? 

A: Chicken parmigiana. 

Q: If I was a visitor from Mars, how would you explain Mel Kiper Jr. to me? 

A: Good question. … He is energetic. … I’m convinced he has a photographic memory. … He was put on this earth to do exactly what he’s doing right now. He’s completely incapable of handling anything day-to-day in his life. When we’re in Bristol [Conn.], I have to pick him up at the hotel, drive him over, and he’ll edit for me 45 minutes if I’m finishing a hit, and I’ll drive him back. His wife gives him like an allowance, he doesn’t have an ATM card. … It’s amazing he’s made it this far and is as successful as he is. Almost everything he does is love his family, and football. This job sometimes it comes off as we act like we’re know-it-alls and we have all the answers ’cause we’re always like going back and forth. And it’s not really about that. What I care about is just making sure I’m giving out the best information and having fun with it. But I always thought prior to working with him that he had kind of an arrogant way about him in his delivery on air. … “No I’m telling you this,” and the famous, “Who the hell is Mel Kiper?” [on-air feud with then Colts GM Bill Tobin] and all that stuff. But once I got into ESPN and started working with him, couldn’t be a nicer guy. He’s so curious about what’s going on in my life, and how are my kids doing? He genuinely cares. If we have an argument on air, we don’t make it up, we don’t fake anything. It’s all organic. But the second it’s done, that’s done, and then he’ll just be like, “McShay you’re such a pain in the ass.” And we’ll just laugh about it. I wouldn’t be where I am today, not just the fact that he created this niche in this industry, but I wouldn’t be where I am at ESPN if it wasn’t for Kiper helping promote me and the willingness to allow me to like come on air and go back and forth. If he said, “I don’t want to deal with McShay, he’s some 27-year-old kid, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, no one’s gonna mess with my brand” or whatever. If he had said that, there’s not a single person at ESPN that would have countered it, or said, “No, you have to do it.” But he was so willing when they first came to him and asked if he would mind and he said, “I love it. Let’s do it.” 

Q: What is draft day like for you? 

A: It’s a rush. Love it on site. So much energy and excitement. It’s like the NFL’s version of Coachella. Nashville was insane. That was the best scene so far. If Vegas is anything close in terms of crowd volume, passion and energy, we’re in for a wild weekend. When it’s over, it’s a mix of extreme relief and appreciation. So much goes into this. Personally, it’s 600-plus hours of tape on 450 prospects starting back in mid-May. Traveling around the country to games in the fall, all-star games, combine and pro days. Dozens of phone calls and lengthy conversations with teams to drill into character, durability and discussions on certain players. I invest as much as I possibly can into this, so it’s a culmination of all the work. As far as appreciation, it’s two-fold. Appreciation for the opportunity and platform that ESPN has provided. And appreciation for all the passionate, creative, intelligent and hard-working individuals that I get to work with, including and especially Steve Muench, who grinds tape with me all year long.

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