Heading into the draft, the Eagles have overall picks 32, 130, 132, 169, 206, & 250.
While I refrained from making trades in my first two mocks, I’m making two here. I’ve always believed the Birds would try to move back to add picks, but it was always unlikely to happen before draft day.
Waiting nearly 100 spots to make a second pick at the very end of the fourth round is too late to fill the multiple holes that Howie and Doug need to—and it’s been heavily reported that the team is aware of that. Trading back from 32nd overall seems like the most obvious path.
TRADE 1: The Eagles trade their 1st round pick (32 overall) to Denver for a 2nd and 4th round pick (41 & 106 overall).
TRADE 2: The Eagles then package two 4th round picks—106 overall (from DEN) and 130 overall—to Carolina for their 3rd round pick (88 overall).
This changes the team’s slate of picks to 41, 88, 132, 169, 206, & 250.
Ronnie Harrison Safety, Alabama
While there’s a real possibility that the Birds go running back—and that would be more fun for the purposes of a mock draft—I think it’s far more likely that the team addresses a defensive need with their first pick. Jim Schwartz has more than proven that his voice matters in personnel decisions, and while everyone may not agree, Schwartz believes there are two holes in his defense as of now: nickel corner, and third safety. For that reason, and the fact that running back just isn’t as important of a position as safety, I think his voice prevails.
There are a few safeties worth taking who might still be available in the early second round, and the most impressive of the bunch is Harrison. I mentioned Harrison in a piece over two months ago and his stock (and my perception of him) has only solidified, if not slightly risen.
Harrison is a jack-of-all-trades safety—he’s extremely versatile in coverage and a flat out tackling-machine. He can play high or low safety, play in man coverage, but is probably most comfortable near the line of scrimmage where he’s eager to get downhill and punish ball carriers with his physicality. Harrison was asked to do a lot at Alabama over his career, and that’s probably why it’s so hard to find a blemish on his resume.
Not only would he step in and fill Corey Graham’s role, but he would project as a replacement for McLeod or Jenkins at some point in the future.
Shaquem Griffin LB, UCF
I know, I know, Griffin is the most cliché mock draft pick of 2018, but he’s a legitimate prospect whose versatility will allow him to step in from day one and fill a role in Schwartz defense. Plus, I think he’s a severely underrated prospect.
Here’s the skinny on Griffin: he doesn’t have a left hand. Rather than boring you with the details of how he lost that hand, all you need to know is that it hasn’t been an issue for him at any level throughout his football career. And the question I pose to his detractors is, if it hasn’t been a problem thus far, why do you expect it to suddenly become one? What about the NFL game calls for ‘finger dexterity’ at the linebacker position that isn’t a part of the college game?
Any red flag that could possibly arise in the NFL due to missing a full hand would have shown itself in college. Does the linebacker position require more size, speed, and strength from college to the NFL? Absolutely. Does it require more finger dexterity as you go from college to the NFL? No, that’s ridiculous.
As far as how he stacks up as a prospect, this dude showed out at the combine, he showed out in the stat sheet, and he shows out on tape.
He was extremely versatile in the 3-4 defense at UCF and that figures to be his calling card in the NFL. While I wouldn’t limit his capabilities, he would fit well in the Kendrick role; nickel linebacker who can occasionally get after the quarterback. He could slide into the rotation immediately with the potential to become a starter down the line.
Parry Nickerson CB, Tulane
Nickerson has seen his stock steadily rise throughout the pre-draft process. While I initially had the Eagles drafting him in the sixth round in my second mock draft (and that’s as high as he’s going in most mocks), I think he’ll be gone by the time they pick at 169 (round 5).
Nickerson is an aggressive ball-hawk who plays with an edge tailor-made for Philadelphia. His lack of size or stature will pigeon hole him as a nickel, but his freakish athletic ability gives him serious potential to excel at the position. His ball skills, speed (4.32-40yd dash), and competitiveness are reminiscent of Brandon Boykin—who never stood a chance on the outside, but was a pro-bowl level talent at nickel.
With the team still searching for Pat Robinson’s replacement, Nickerson could potentially fill that role from day one. I think the fact that Nickerson almost assuredly can’t play on the outside will keep him from rising past 132, where he offers a lot of value for the Schwartz’ defense.
Jullian Taylor DT, Temple
Taylor is a hometown kid from Abington and has one of the trickier profiles in the draft. He spent the vast majority of his collegiate career dealing with injuries, but in the few instances where he’s been healthy he’s been nothing short of dominant. His tape against NFL-level talent has been enough for some scouts to fall in love with him but his injury history will keep his draft position in flux.
He’s strong, athletic, and quick off the ball, which allows him to be disruptive and get up the field with ease. He might need a season to hone his technique and add some mass, but he’ll have no trouble stepping into Ngata’s role next season, with a real shot to develop into a starter down the line.
Much like Nickerson in the round prior, some people might look at a fifth-round pick as being too high for Taylor, but his potential is too obvious for him to slide any further than this.
Troy Fumagalli TE, Wisconsin
The Birds still need someone to fill Brent Celek’s spot as a blocking tight end and Troy Fumagalli can step into that role immediately. In the run-heavy offense at Wisconsin he was counted on as the sixth or seventh lineman in the running game (much like Celek) and excelled. On top of that, he was sneaky good in the passing game, as he lead Wisconsin in receiving during his senior season.
The Birds won’t ask Fumagalli to do much as a receiver outside of a change-of-pace/check down option, which is exactly how Celek was used at the end of his time here. Adding him to the addition of Richard Rogers (who will step into the Burton role) will solidify the tight end position for the foreseeable future.
Javon Wims WR, Georgia
Wims reminds me of Jason Avant with a little more ability to “climb the ladder.” He has good size, body control, and ball skills; all of which compliment his above-average hands. The problem is: he can’t separate whatsoever.
He projects as a backup who can contribute on the hands team and in a variety of roles on special teams. He will excel as a blocker in the run game — much like a Riley Cooper or Avant — and if matched up against smaller defensive backs he could be a legitimate jump ball option after Alshon.