The Eagles could go in a number of directions with this pick, but one position that’s a strong possibility is defensive tackle. While the Eagles did just sign Malik Jackson to replace Jernigan, it would be stupid to think that move plugs up our interior line.
Last season the Birds lacked reliable depth behind Cox and Jernigan, and that problem was glaring when Jernigan missed an extended period of time. It’s also worth noting that Jackson will be a major liability against the run—something that isn’t being talked about enough.
Wilkins is about as well-rounded of a defensive tackle prospect that you’ll find in any draft class. From his long record of producing at the highest levels of college football (40.5 tfl, and 16 sacks over 55 games, 41 starts) to his outstanding achievements off the field and in the community (William V Campbell award winner “the academic Heisman”) he’s a can’t-miss prospect who’ll be a plus in the locker room.
Wilkins is a great fit in Schwartz’s system, as his talent is best utilized in an attacking (one-gap) scheme that allows him to be aggressive. He’s fast off the line of scrimmage, has great hand technique, and plays with good leverage. But it’s his short area quickness and flexibility that allows him to contort his body and disrupt gaps in an elite way. It’s these traits that make the thought of him slotting next to Cox so scary, and truth be told, I don’t know why he isn’t rated higher.
Darnell Savage Jr.
I think the hope for a lot of people is that the Andrew Sendejo signing takes safety off the Eagles list of needs, but that couldn’t be further from the case. Jenkins and McLeod are older (31 & 29) and nearing the end, and while Tre Sullivan fills in nicely as depth, I don’t see him as a long-term starter.
Savage is a local product from Caramel Academy (Del.), who’s athleticism and versatility is beginning to shoot him up draft boards. He was a three year starter who has the range and ball skills to play centerfield, while also possessing the physicality to play in the box and at the line of scrimmage. On top of that, his man coverage skills give him the potential to be a true hybrid-safety in the mold of Malcolm Jenkins.
His height (5’11”) may be a concern for some, but plenty of safeties get dinged for size and are able to compensate (see: McLeod, Rodney).
In 2018 the Eagles were somehow able to survive injuries to a secondary that wasn’t all that great to begin with, and they can’t risk letting that happen again. For some reason our secondary issues are just accepted as a matter of fact considering how little resources are allocated there. A major influx of talent (not just youth, we have plenty of that) is needed in the secondary, and this would be a good place to start. Ideally Savage would be the third safety as a rookie and a starter as soon as a spot opens up.
RB, Iowa State
It’s become a pretty safe bet that the Eagles are looking for another running back to add to their mix for 2019, and it feels more and more like they’ll try to find that player in the draft. Last week I wrote about a few running back prospects that should interest the Eagles in the second round, and the one whom I prefer is David Montgomery.
Montgomery was featured heavily over three seasons at Iowa State, amassing a total of 2,925 yards and 26 TDs. He has a bowling ball frame and the tough running style to match. His ability to control his body and absorb contact is a trait that can’t be taught, and he combines that with sound footwork and exceptional lateral quickness. After watching his tape it’s easy to imagine him in this offense.
What’s perhaps most impressive is ability to immediately contribute in the passing game. He’s a decent route-runner with strong hands, and his frame and power allow him to hold up well in pass protection. The only thing he’s lacking is the top end speed to rip off big runs, but that’s pretty nit-picky considering how well rounded of a prospect he is.
OL, Alabama State
Offensive line is a need for the Eagles that can’t be ignored, and I think it’s possible that they use a higher pick on one than this. In the near term they need someone who can play on the interior, with the left guard spot up in the air and Brandon Brooks set to miss time due to injury; and long term they need someone who can replace Jason Peters at left tackle when he retires.
Nabbing a player who could fill one of those needs is ideal and I think the team is willing to trade one of their 4ths to move up and get their guy. Tytus Howard is a tackle prospect with high-end athleticism and the frame to develop into a bookend tackle. He certainly needs some technical refining and a year in an NFL weight room before he can contribute, but the Eagles are able to afford him that time.
If the level of competition that he played against wasn’t so low he would likely be considered higher in the draft, but so far his non-FBS status is keeping expectations modest. Howard is definitely more than a developmental prospect, and that’s why the team will likely need to trade closer to the top 100 picks to get him.
The need for receiver isn’t as big with the team bringing back Desean Jackson, but with Agholor on a contract year, and little depth behind our current starting trio, it remains an area of long-term need.
Hall is a vertical threat who’s 4.39 40-time at the combine verified his top-end speed. What makes him a more enticing prospect is his combination of size (6’2’’) and leaping ability. All those things make him a potential serious downfield threat in the NFL, and he has the tools to develop into more.
Hall has impressive short area quickness and burst coming out of cuts; and while his routes need to become a lot more refined, his speed and quickness allows him to create good separation for such a raw route runner. This suggests that he’ll be able to contribute on all levels of the field if he develops proper technique.
One of a few knocks on Hall would be his hands. While there was improvement from 2017 to 2018, he still struggles with drops from time to time. He’ll also need to become more physical in the NFL, both in the weight room and in mentality. With that said, Hall’s athletic profile and relatively high-floor as a vertical threat gives him good value in the fourth round.
Johnson is a hell of an athlete whose speed (4.43 40-time) will enamor scouts, but the rest of his game will leave a little more to be desired. He produced well on the field for Texas, but that was largely a result of his athletic ability compensating for poor technique and middling play recognition. He won’t be able to hide those concerns in the NFL.
Still, he possesses the physical tools of a starting linebacker, and that alone should be enough to get him drafted. He has a lot of growing to do before he can play on a regular basis, but his athleticism and motor suggests that he has very high upside. In the short term he could contribute on special teams and provide depth for what’s currently a thin LB unit.
Prince has spent his college career starting at left tackle for Maryland and has been one of the best pass blockers in the Big Ten. Because of his frame he figures to move to guard in the NFL, where his skills should translate well. He’s wide and strong and if he’s able to develop more as a blocker in space he’ll be able to start at guard at the next level.
I personally could see Prince going higher. As a former 5-star prospect he isn’t limited athletically, and his production at Maryland has been more than impressive. But because he’s limited to the guard spot, and doesn’t have the highest ceiling, he’ll likely be around this late. Don’t be fooled though, he’s the type of prospect who could probably contribute sooner than later if called upon.