In the 2016 Draft, the Eagles made a splash by “trading the farm” to move up and select their franchise quarterback from North Dakota te, Carson Wentz. Things would prove to be more interesting soon after, as the Eagles went on to trade Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings for a first-round pick just one week before the start of the regular season.
With Carson Wentz at the helm, the up-and-down season for the Eagles ultimately netted them a 7-9 record with plenty of things to question as well as plenty of things to be excited about. However, with the Vikings pick in their back pocket, the Eagles landed a mid-round selection in the first round which will ultimately be decided by a coin-flip on Friday, March 3 at the NFL Combine. The coin-clip will determine the 14th and 15th selection between the Eagles and the Colts.
While many Eagles fans have been salivating at the offensive studs coming out of this year’s draft (i.e. Corey Davis, Mike Williams and Dalvin Cook), I decided to go somewhat against the grain with the first-round and address a need on the other side of the ball. Let’s get started.
Philadelphia Eagles Seven-Round Mock Draft
Round 1, Pick 14/15: CB Sidney Jones, Washington
The last time the Eagles selected a cornerback in the first round dates all the way back to 2002 when they selected Lito Sheppard with the 26th overall pick. The two-time Pro-Bowler and 2004 First-Team All-Pro proved to be a success with the Eagles and the Birds will look for similar production out of Jones. At 6’1”, 170 pounds, Jones plays physical for his slender size and is not afraid to bang with bigger receivers in press coverage. With Jim Schwartz’s defense, man-to-man coverage is crucial to allow the big fellas up front to get pressure on the quarterback. With a senior campaign that included six pass breakups and three interceptions, Jones will grow with young teammate Jalen Mills in an NFC East conference loaded with talent at the wide receiver position.
Round 2, Pick 44: WR Zay Jones, East Carolina
Outside of Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz, Carson Wentz had little help in his rookie campaign. With the many rumors swirling around that the Eagles will address the wide receiver position in free agency, it would be wise for the Eagles to snag a receiver along with a free agent signing in order to move Jordan Matthews back into the slot where he was most productive. Jones has a prototypical build at 6’2”, 200 pounds but his most valuable trait is his hands. Jones ended his collegiate career as the All-Time leader in receptions in the FBS. An impressive route runner and great hands is exactly the security blanket Carson Wentz needs.
Round 3, Pick 76: DE Carl Lawson, Auburn
This pick may leave a few people with a head scratch, but before you write this pick off, let me explain. It is almost a certainty that Connor Barwin will not be on the roster once the 2017 season begins. Outside of Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham, the Eagles lack depth on the outside. Although Marcus Smith showed flashes that he feels more comfortable in a 4-3 defense, the Eagles still need more proven rushers. Insert Carl Lawson, the junior out of Auburn who finished with a first-team All-SEC selection which boasted 13.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks. Lawson missed out on his 2014 with an ACL injury and also missed six games in 2015 due to a hip injury but bounced back well in 2016 season to get scouts excited again. What he lacks in size (6’2”, 253 pounds) he makes up for in burst and aggression. Lawson could fit well into the rotation of pass rushers for the Eagles behind Curry and Graham to allow him time to grow and perhaps add a few pounds to his frame.
Round 4, Pick 108: C Ethan Pocic, LSU
Doug Pederson has shown that he likes lineman that have flexibility. Pocic has played all three positions along the line and was first-time All-SEC to finish his collegiate campaign. With many injuries along the line for the Eagles in the 2016 season, Pocic provides a reliable backup that can groom into a starter with time to grow. Like Jason Kelce, Pocic uses his athletic ability on pull blocks and excels in the run game. Pocic will most likely bounce between guard and center, and paired with Isaac Seumalo, the Eagles will be able to pick and choose where they line up their offensive front.
Round 4, Pick 139 (Compensatory Pick from Cleveland Browns from Carson Wentz trade): WR Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma
With the second fourth-round pick the Eagles receive from the Browns, the Birds double-dip at reciever to pick up the speedy Dede Westbrook. It was evident last season that the Eagles lacked speed across the board on offense and Westbrook is one of the most explosive players in the draft. A former sprinter in high school, Westbrook can take the top off of a defense an allow Carson Wentz to add another dimension to the Eagles’ offense. There is a good chance that Westbrook goes much earlier in the draft, but his lack of size (6’0”, 176 pounds) may be a cause for concern for NFL teams to pull the trigger. However, if he slips to the Eagles this far down, I just don’t see them passing on the playmaker.
Round 5, Pick 155: OT Conor McDermott, UCLA
You can never have enough depth on the offensive line in the NFL, and with Jason Peters’ days numbered, the Eagles pick up the 6’8”, 305 pound tackle out of UCLA. McDermott is slender for his tall frame, but he plays hard every down and can fill out his slender build to better suit larger defenders. McDermott needs to work on his fundamentals when it comes to footwork and lateral movement against quicker defenders, but with some bulking up and NFL coaching, he could turn into a serviceable tackle over time.
Round 6, Pick 194: RB James Conner, Pitt
Conner, who recently received a clean scan after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, is a pure bruiser out of the backfield. Standing at 6’2”, 240 pounds, Conner could prove to be a reliable option at the goal-line for the Eagles. While Conner may not be the type of back to receive 15-20 touches a game, he could very well be a breath of fresh air for the Birds as someone who can consistently grind out the tough third-and-short yardage plays that the Eagles have been lacking for years.
Round 7, Pick 230: LB Ben Boulware, Clemson
With a lack of depth amongst Eagles linebackers, Ben Boulware could provide some grit and toughness in the rotation. Boulware is warrior and true leader, but lacks size and quickness to be an every-down linebacker. If the Eagles are to pull the trigger on Boulware, look for him to start out his career on special teams, where he could thrive with his willingness to lay out his body for his team to win.