An interview with Michigan pass rusher Jaylen Harrell

This week I had the opportunity to speak to Michigan pass rusher Jaylen Harrell, in the second interview in my player series for this year (check out my conversation with Malik Mustapha here). I have another interview lined up for next week — please check these out!


  1. Denver Hawker

    Justin Simmons cut by Broncos- seems a reckoning on the overpriced safety position.

  2. Roy Batty

    In just three teams, that I know of, that makes 4 starting safeties cut. Bills, Broncos, Seahawks. I’d assume Schneider will be able to sign a vet at a good price. One less urgent need come draft day.

    • JD

      Also continuing a conversation from the previous thread – isn’t it true that cut players don’t count towards the comp pick formula? I understand Rob’s points about gaping holes at TE, S and LB but if we can target a few cut players to fill holes, I think it’s very advantageous to play the comp pick game. Having 4 extra draft picks every year is tantalizing and a good excuse to not overpay in free agency.

      • Roy Batty

        Only those reaching FA via expired contracts are comp pick eligible.

      • Roy Batty

        Also, the comp pick game is very tough to make happen. You would need good players playing out their contracts. On this team, that’s pretty rare. If they don’t sign with someone else, no comp pick. On top of all that, it needs to be a healthy contract, or you’re just getting day three picks, not 3rd rounders. Nice to have, but so is the cap room saved by cutting an ineffective player.

        • Brodie

          It is and it isn’t. This year we have a lot of guys hitting FA that should have a market. John should be able to look at the list and say: LW, Brooks, Lewis, Fant, Parkinson, Lock, Michael Jackson should all be in the mix for solid contracts. Wagner, Bush, Evan Brown – maybe.

          Should be quite easy, barely an inconvenience to do it this year. Next year Love, Reed and maybe Tre Brown makes it tougher.

          JD makes a good point though. We can sign any/all of the players who have been cut and it doesn’t factor into the comp pick calculation at all.

          If you can address your holes with a few cheap FA’s and some guys who have been cut, there is no reason we shouldn’t get 4 comp picks. Most of them will likely be day 3 picks, but still.

          • Roy Batty

            Aside from Williams and Brooks, I don’t see them re-signing anyone else. Dissly, maybe, but only if it’s a very cheap deal with minimal.guaranteed money. Colby, same. Neither have high ceilings. One had two catastrophic injuries and his production fell off a cliff. He can block, but is a blocking TE a luxury they want to spend on right now? And Diggs is just not an option. Too old, slow, can’t tackle and thinks using social media is the way to communicate what he wants the team to do. No thanks.

            With all the holes in this roster at S, TE, LB, G and QB they will cancel out plenty of comp-eligible players. Maybe they get a comp pick or two, but I don’t see them waiting to sign FA’s later just to get those comps. It’s not the best way for a new HC to start his tenure. He will want the best bargains he can get, as soon as he can.

            • Brodie

              We aren’t talking about guys WE cut.

              If Buffalo cuts a player, we can sign them w/o affecting the comp picks. You could sign 20 guys who were cut (by other teams) next week and would still get a comp pick for any of our FA’s who sign a qualifying deal with another team.

            • Sandman

              For safety I hope we go young, even giving our draftees Bryant and Reed extensive looks although I am intrigued what Chinn would provide.

              For TE1, Parkinson may have the right mix of skill potential and cost. He’s still young, stayed healthy and had more + than – plays.

      • Big Mike

        And don’t forget that the Niners have received a comp pick seemingly every year for the past 4 or 5 years for minority coaches being hired away.

    • ukalex6674

      Or, a lot of team like the S class in this draft.

  3. Zane

    It’s very nice that two of our biggest positions of need seem to be saturated with veterans on the FA market!

    LB: Brooks, Queen, Luvu, Devin White, Willie Gay
    Saftey: Diggs, Chinn, Xavier McKinney, Gardner-Johnson, Simmons, Geno Stone, Kamren Curl

    TE, on the other hand, is not nearly as favorable.

    • Brodie

      Logan Thomas and CJ Uzomah were cuts. Guys like that are fine.

      We paid Noah Fant $7M last year for 414 yards and 0 TD.
      Colby had 247 yards and 2 TD.

      Pretty sure we can improve/replace that production with ease.

      • ukalex6674

        Or we just use Fant more?

  4. cha

    Great interview Rob.

    I was sitting there going ‘cmon Rob ask about Macdaniels…cmon Rob…’ then you did! Great closer.

    • Roy Batty

      Viens did a Michigan-only mock. It says a lot about a college team when that mock wasn’t bad.

  5. cha

    Joel Corry talks contract expectations.

    I’ll be closely watching Baker Mayfield, because he is just about the only modern-day data point we have to see how the league views Geno Smith.

    He basically is ‘younger Geno Smith’, a phoenix rising from the ashes of a poor first-round pick career who could never really put it together.

    -Traded for a conditional 5th round pick (two years out!) with Cleveland eating $10m of his salary.
    -Demoted to 3rd QB in Carolina and then cut
    -Had a cup of coffee with the Rams
    -Signed by Tampa with a $2m bonus and no guarantees about starting

    Corry says he’d walk into the negotiating room asking for 4y $160m with $85m in guarantees – which would obviously come down in negotiations.

    He says this:

    It wouldn’t be surprising for Mayfield to actually sign a deal in the Geno Smith neighborhood although the average salary for starting quarterbacks in 2023, excluding those on rookie contracts, was $37,651,853 per year, according to NFLPA data

    • geoff u

      I don’t know how anyone can pay a fortune for Baker, or how he’s “revitalized” his career or progressed when last year was on par with his best year in Cleveland (year 3). He’s still the same Baker Mayfield. I guess if he can do the same thing again he’s become consistently average?

      • cha

        Joel is an agent who has turned to writing. He tends to always overestimate the market because he looks at things with an agent’s view, pushing the market forward. He was a star guest on 710 Dec-Feb last year talking about Geno and regularly predicted a much healthier contract than what Geno actually got.

        You can also tell that because in the Baker section, he references Daniel Jones’ contract as a data point, conveniently ignoring that the Giants are not-so-quietly looking for backdoor to shove Jones out of.

  6. Sea Mode

    Interesting now Tony reporting that Maye’s stock fell at the Combine whereas Breer wrote a piece talking about how it rose. Smokescreen season, I guess!

    🤔 Intriguing…

    The big news coming out of Indianapolis is the way teams are hot and cold on quarterback Drake Maye, who was expected to be a top-three pick. I was told at the combine that the New England Patriots would trade back if Jayden Daniels did not drop to their slot, the third pick of the draft. Just today, I heard further that several scouts from the Patriots organization are not fans of Maye, who really struggled down the stretch of the season. The fact that several people mentioned in conversation, not all, are sold on Maye makes this significant.

    Breer piece:

    • Brodie

      If you’re actually watching the games and going off the tape, I don’t see how anyone could be excited about what they saw. Then to not do anything at the combine… yaaaa.

      You could watch his 2022 tape and listen to him interview and get really excited though. He’s a curious case. The draft media has just made him a de facto top 3 pick, but you wonder if scouts will be less excited.

      • BK26

        It’s like all of them: watch the tape, what he does. Can you build off of that, improve him? What can he do?

        He was lazily propped up that high for so long and now people are actually doing their jobs and their due diligence? Or feeling the need to make hot takes and go against what has been said for an entire year.

        If he’s there, I say go get him. I like that he’s working with Philip Rivers.

        • Brodie

          He definitely has the tools. He just had some games where he didn’t look like a 3rd rounder, much less a top 3 pick. I think I watched every throw from 4 games this year and the consistency was not good.

          Rob has said that he looks like a JS type and I can see that. Allen and Herbert didn’t look great on tape their senior years either in my opinion and they worked out. I certainly trust Rob and John more than myself when it comes to scouting QB’s. My eyes tell me that it makes sense some might not be sold on him that high though

          • BK26

            I’ve wondered about the coaching that he got. Mack Brown just hasn’t had his guys work out in the NFL.

            Not sure about any other level of coaching he received. Just a thought.

    • LouCityHawk

      Friends don’t let friends draft Maye.

  7. Blitzy the Clown

    Metric for the TE FA market:

    Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

    Former Falcons tight end Jonnu Smtih and the Miami Dolphins reached agreement on a two-year deal with the do worth up to $10 million, per source.

    10:33 AM · Mar 7, 2024

    • Sea Mode

      Was just about to post this; you beat me to it. Hopefully Fant’s value is closer to this. 2023 stats are similar. Jonnu has better stats but Noah is 2 yrs younger.

      And it’s only “up to” that number, which we all know that usually means once the full details drop.

      • Peter

        I like fant but if he’s smart he signs a one year deal with a team that isn’t running 3 wr’s and throws to him more than 43x in a season.

        12.9 yards per catch and +70% catch rate so we don’t use him?

        • Roy Batty

          I was reading a back and forth on another site where there was a Fant fanboy going at it with a non-Fant commenter.

          Near the end, someone else chimed in with “What does it matter if the QB who is supposed to utilize his tight ends is still on the team and not utilizing his tight ends?”

          • Peter

            Exactly. I’m not married to retaining him because I’d go with parkinson. But either way TE’s come to flounder in Seattle.

            Also heard some thoughts that parkinson might recieve good money elsewhere…..

            • OakleyD

              Same reasoning I would try to bring back Dissly (not just because I bought his Jersey last season). If we are not going to utilise our TE’s all that much, they best be able to block or have some desirable trait that benefits the team.

              I do think Parkinson has developed his blocking and he can arguably stretch the field that little bit more than Uncle Will, but I don’t see the consistency there that Diz usually provides (when healthy at least).

              I think Seattle is doing the right thing allowing the players to set their own market though, I’m not a huge Fant fan – feel all he did was get in the way of Dissly and Parkinsons development for not much return. He will likely be the more costly of the 3 as well.

  8. samprassultanofswat

    The question of the day is. What would Seattle have to give up to get New England’s 1st round pick?

    Would Seattle’s 1st round pick this year, 1st rounder next year (2025), Seattle’s 1st rounder in (2026) be enough?

    If not. What else would they have to throw in?

    You have to go all in to get your QB. Brock Huard really likes J.J. McCarthy. He said that McCarthy puts the team first. He teammates love him.

    At first I was totally down on McCarthy. But now in am all in McCarthy. Brock says that McCarthy has championship. Before anyone started comparing him to Tom Brady I was already on the Tom Brady Comparison.

    • BK26

      Doesn’t really have a choice when he’s told to hand the ball off over and over….

      I can’t get sold on someone that was a game manager that was used minimally, with perfectly “fine” skills. There isn’t any upgrade other than the cap savings. We’ll just be coming back to hoping to upgrade from a middling qb position again soon enough.

      Joe Burrow is the only person that I am mentioning in the same sentence as Brady in terms of comparison as a rookie.

    • Matt

      JJ isn’t my preference but I find myself actually getting excited about the prospect of him leading Seattle.

      I’m not saying he is these guys…but it’s not like Brees, Brady, Manning had crazy “Slick Productionz” YouTube highlights. Sometimes good QB play is boring. And I do believe he is capable of magic even if he doesn’t have a highlight video littered with them.

      I don’t know…his teammates and coaches seem to genuinely love him. We can laugh at that, but the talent in the NFL does not have the disparity that college football has; sometimes that intangible factor can make all the difference.

      • BK26

        Brees threw for 11,800 yards and 90 td’s in college. Manning had similar production. Brady is Tom Brady. These are guys that were dominant in college, focal points. LED teams. Brees and Manning were two the most NFL-ready ever going into the draft.

        Teammates and coaches all love their qb’s. Good luck finding anyone that is going to say their guy was an ass. That is his big selling point? You still have to be an elite, difference-making player.

        You said it yourself: good qb play is boring. He’s “good.” We are trying to replace good already.

        • Film12Hawk

          Matt Hasselbeck threw only 4,548 yards total with 22 TDs and 26 INTs at Boston College. Stats and production aren’t everything when it comes to translation to the NFL.

          • BK26

            That was also in the 90’s in college. And he played and was effective in the 2000’s when running the football could still be the dominant offensive game plan. He was also a 6th round pick, not a potential first round pick.

            Worst case, he ran an offense and was a focal point of that BC team. Actually used.

          • Peter

            This is getting to be the twilight zone.

            Okay. Let’s draft mcccarthy in the 6th round and give him five seasons of practice reps under the same coach.

          • Gritty Hawk

            If we’re being honest, Matt Hasselbeck wasn’t really that good in the NFL. In his “prime” 5 years starting for Seattle, he amassed only 118 TDs to 66 INT, 7.0 AY/A, and an 88.1 passer rating (for reference, that would be bottom half of the league this year, and worse than Geno Smith). He never threw 30 TDs nor had a passer rating over 100 in those seasons. His career playoff record was 5-6 with 18 TDs to 9 picks and an 84.2 rating and one of the most embarrassing moments in NFL history with that Green Bay pick 6 in OT.

            I think maybe we should try to aim a little higher than Matt Hasselbeck, especially if you’re talking about taking a guy in the top 15.

            • Peter

              It’s wild how much the nfl has changed. Before Tom brady was Tom Brady he had very good for for the era stats but now, without the rings his 2:1 td ratio with ‘just’ 28 tds and sub 4,000 yard seasons we’d be talking about him as mid tier guy.

              • Gritty Hawk

                I don’t know that this is really true. Before he dropped that 50 TD season in 2007, he was kind of a mid QB. His best statistical season was 2004, when he threw for 3,692 YDS, 28 TD, 14 INT, and 92.6 rating. His ranks in that year were 10th, 6th, 12th (12th most INT), and 9th respectively. In 2003 he ranked 6th in yards, and 10th in TDs and rating, yet somehow finished 3rd in AP MVP voting. I don’t think the game has changed much, I just think people tend to misremember his relative performance before he became Brady the GOAT.

                • Peter

                  I think we’re getting to the same point.

                  3600 yards then was 3rd in the league. Last year that would be around 15th in the league.

      • Peter

        I’m not laughing at it.

        Dan Lanning describes Nix as “family.”

        Deboer knew Penix was a great player to build a team around, run an offense, and be a leader in the team and community.

        South Carolina’s HC wanted rattler and speaks glowingly of him having coached him at OK.

        Seminole alum wer at in full support of Travis after his injury.

        All this to say I sincerely doubt mccarthy is unique in how his team feels about him.

        Alternately you could easily make very long compilations of manning and Brady getting right into people’s faces. Heck apparently everyone hated Wilson but it didn’t matter until he sucked.

        I’m not saying it doesn’t matter but it’s a little weird that his big selling point is being a great dude and great third down production*

        *I haven’t finished charting all the 3rd down snaps against ranked teams but sure are a lot of dump offs with YAC for first down thus far.

        • BK26

          It feels like a car salesman is in front of me. Talking someone up, using whit and charm (him nailing the interviews) to get me to buy something when I already know what I want.

          “You have two kids and soccer games on the weekend? You don’t need the 3 row (qb that has shown an ability to take over games, above average skills, actually has tape). You need the Mercedes (something that you are going to have to replace sooner or later because it…isn’t what you need).

          • Peter

            Listening to Klatt talk about the importance if the combine to get information to make decisions between similarly ranked players. Why Marvin Harrison Jr doesn’t need to run but Rome Odunze can actually improve his draft stock.

            If all the qbs were the same size, same stats, same games, same athleticism then sure the best fit as a leader would be the deal breaker.

            It’s so over the top now it’s actually trending into maybe nix, penix, etc aren’t really that well liked. Because mccarthy is cheering on Worthy which was cool to see and all poor nix did was get his teammate adopted by his parents and had, I thought, much respect for Penix saying he was the best player he faced in college.

            • BK26

              Well, has Nix’s coach said that he was the best qb in college football. Must just matter more if Harbaugh says it….

    • LouCityHawk

      Friends don’t let friends drink and draft JJ McCarthy.

  9. Trevor

    Really enjoyed the interview Rob it is great getting to know more about these guys and you do a great job with it.

    What range you think he goes?

    • Rob Staton


      • Peter

        Echoing Trevor’s sentiment. Love all these interviews.

        • OakleyD

          I thought his interview started rather soundbitey, like he’d been told to say alot of the content and was trying to force it. But as you asked him about certain memorable plays and experiences, he relaxed and you kind of got a sense of who he is as a person and not just what he is trying to present to the general public. Love how your film review helps dig deeper into what makes these prospects tick and opens them up. Great content that your vanilla interviews would not drag out.

  10. Rob Staton

    Next player interview will be LSU’s Mekhi Wingo FYI

    • JD

      Awesome. Thanks Rob that’s really cool.

      I’m so interested in how you set these player and other league sources interviews up. Do you reach out to a ton of players and cast a wide net or message the ones you really like only? Do you go through agents or reach out directly to them through IG or other social media? No worries if you can’t (don’t want to) answer either but just an interested fan!

      • Rob Staton

        Just been able to build contacts and relationships

    • ukalex6674

      One of my draft crushes this year. Great stuff!

  11. Ground_Hawk

    Another good interview Rob! He sounds like he’s all about football so here’s hoping that his proday goes well! Also good questions about his thoughts on the Michigan program, especially regarding McCarthy.

  12. Roy Batty

    Would Dre’mont Jones be a good comp for him?

    The Denver version, not the Seattle one.

    Looks like he has a good 10 yard split and broad jump. Shorter than average, but powerful.

    • Roy Batty

      Meant as a response to the Mekhi Wingo announcement.

  13. LouCityHawk

    Great interview with the son of James Harrell, who I barely remember playing (for the Lions?).

    I would have liked him to name a name on the Michigan line as a must have.

    For anyone interested, I like Harrell, not super explosive, his biggest problem is he gets fooled by misdirection and loses contain too often. Not as bad as Taylor, but enough it probably frustrates his coaches. Thought he played better under Mac.

  14. Ian Heathrow

    Great interview, Rob!!!

    SDB is clearly stepping up it’s game this season!!

    You don’t get this on X!

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