The 2019 NFL Draft is less than 24 hours away and the Philadelphia Eagles have a total of seven selections, beginning with 25th pick overall. Howie Roseman has notoriously carried a “best player available” mentality on draft night, and I don’t expect him to reinvent the wheel at this point.
Using The Draft Network’s ‘Mock Draft Machine’, I conducted our second and final mock draft for the Eagles. Here are the results:
The Eagles could go in a few directions with this pick, and Howie will likely draft the best player available. This is obviously dictated by what the teams do ahead of them, but the way I see it there’s enough talent in the top end of this class that you can expect a few prospects worth taking to be available.
In the simulation I ran the best player available was Cody Ford, who has been mocked to the Birds quite a bit, and fills an obvious need on offense. Ford is a physical specimen who’s combination of size, athleticism, and balance makes him an obvious first round talent along the offensive line.
He spent time at both tackle and guard at Oklahoma, and will likely be capable of playing both as a pro too, which is what makes him a perfect candidate for the Eagles. In the immediate short-term the team will likely need some guard help with Brandon Brooks’ achilles on the mend and left guard an area of weakness. On top of that, the impending retirement of Jason Peters means that left tackle could be a need as soon as 2020. For these reasons, drafting a top tier offensive lineman makes a lot of sense.
Ford will need to hone his technique to truly unlock the potential that he possesses, but make no mistake about the fact that Ford has a really high ceiling at both the guard and tackle spot.
Offensive line isn’t always the sexiest pick, but no fan base appreciates the trenches like Birds fans—this pick would likely be met with applause.
I’ve never been big on taking a receiver with a high pick in this draft, but if the team is serious about trading Agholor—which makes sense given him being due roughly $9 million in a contract year—then the team obviously would need to add a player who can step in immediately (and for cheap).
Deebo Samuel fits that mold. He had a prolific career at South Carolina, producing 2,230 yards from scrimmage and 23 TDs on 173 touches, along with an additional 1,219 yards and four TDs returning kickoffs. If the numbers don’t already explain it: he can do it all, and he feels like the exact type of weapon Doug likes to have in his offense.
Samuel can work out of the slot—which is where he likely would start in this case—and on the outside if need be. He’s an advanced route runner with exceptional quickness in and out of cuts. He doesn’t have top-end speed to be a vertical threat, but he definitely has the speed to make a slower corner pay.
Where he really excites is with the ball in his hands. He combines his aforementioned quickness with impressive physicality to break tackles and rack up yards in the open field. His skillset is very similar to that of Golden Tate, and I think the offensive coaching staff is still looking for someone to fill that role.
Samuel could get a lot of touches from day one even if Agholor is still around. And if Agholor is traded then Samuel should be able to fill his role seamlessly.
Safety seems to be a position that’s heavily mocked to the Birds with one of their second round picks. That can be attributed to the position being a clear need for the Eagles, and the handful of safety prospects available in this range.
Both Juan Thornhill and Darnell Savage were available in my simulation—and I selected Savage at 53 in my first mock draft—but I think Thornhill might make a little more sense in our defense.
We know Jim Schwartz is looking for ballhawks in his secondary, and Thornhill fits that description to a tee. He’s recorded 13 interceptions and 26 pass deflections over three seasons (6 picks coming in 2018 alone). That’s impressive production, and Thornhill possesses the versatility to boot. He started his career playing corner (both outside and nickel) before moving to safety as a senior. He has the tools to play both, but likely needs to stay predominately at safety in the NFL due to athletic limitations.
This is the reason a lot of scouts like a guy like Savage over Thornhill—Savage is way more impressive of an athlete—but Thornhill makes up for this with a high IQ and impressive instincts in zone coverage. Savage isn’t quite as polished at the position overall, and the Eagles likely need someone who can step in as the third safety sooner than later.
I think it’s more likely than not that Howie tries to beef up the defensive line with one of his first three picks, but if he isn’t able to do that then he’ll look to find a steal or two in the middle rounds. A top end pick isn’t necessary at this position, but the team definitely needs a body who can contribute in a rotation from day one and I think Trysten Hill fits that need.
Hill fits the mold of the type of interior lineman that Schwartz likes. He’s incredibly explosive off the ball, possesses good quickness, and has an extremely high motor—all good traits to combine with his strength.
Where he needs a lot of work is mostly with his hand technique and play recognition. Scouts describe his hands and point-of-attack technique as very poor, but that’s a relatively small fix on the next level considering the rest of his tools.
What also keeps him down draft boards is his lack of ability to recognize what blocks are coming at him, which results in him getting washed away more than you would like for such a big body.
Nevertheless, Hill possesses the traits to thrive in a one-gap scheme, and could work his way into the rotation early, with a chance to develop into a starter down the line.
Long is a high-IQ, high-energy player who won’t blow you away physically, but he was very productive in his time at WVU (246 tackles, 39.5 TFL, & 12.5 sacks over three years).
He’s definitely undersized, but has good compact strength and a strong base to make up for it. He’s at his best when attacking downhill and should be utilized as a blitzer at the next level. He fits the mold of a weakside linebacker, with a physical profile similar to Mychal Kendricks, just with slightly more of an inside linebacker-mentality—he’s instinctive and willing to get dirty.
His ability to eventually start in the NFL will be dictated by whether or not he can become a more efficient tackler and how much he can contribute in pass coverage. Either way, he has special teams value and is a good enough football player to provide depth despite his physical limitations.
I think Howie will look to add another developmental lineman late in the draft, and with this pick he’ll be giving Schwartz someone who can develop into a pass rush specialist in the near future.
While some scouts like Carney’s fit more standing up in a 3-4, he has the tools to play with his hand on the ground in a 4-3 as long as he’s able to get stronger in an NFL weight program.
He already possesses good speed, quickness, and the flexibility to get around the edge, along with the hand technique and spin moves necessary to counter. It’s hard to knock his ability as a pass rusher considering he produced 17 sacks and 32.5 TFL over three seasons.
He likely wouldn’t contribute much as a rookie, but his tools suggest that Schwartz could have him ready to wreak havoc on passing downs sooner than later.
I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Howie added multiple offensive lineman in this draft, and with Jason Kelce known to be eyeing retirement in the near future it would make sense to add someone who could potentially develop into a starting center.
Insert Gaillard, who played guard at Georgia before moving over to center where he started his final two seasons. He has extremely impressive size and strength while also possessing the nimbleness in the open field that the Birds running game requires.
While the team won’t limit themselves to drafting a player who can do everything that Kelce can—mainly because those prosepcts generally don’t exist—we know they’ll want someone with decent athleticism, and Gaillard has that.
He also has well-developed hand technique and is a high-IQ player—an important trait for a center. But what scouts find most impressive about him is his leadership and work ethic, something we know the Eagles and most NFL teams value highly.
He may not be the perfect scheme fit, but I think he has the tools to fit nicely in the Birds zone scheme. It’s hard to guage Gaillard’s value, but if he’s on the board this late it feels like a no-brainer.