Day Two of the NFL Draft starts tonight at 7 and the Eagles will look to build on what is surprisingly a controversial 1st round pick in Jalen Reagor. You can thank the local media for that, as they never put him on the radar of fans in the way that Denzel Mims, Tee Higgins, or Brandon Aiyuk were discussed. Though any NFL scout will tell you Reagor to the Eagles was very predictable.
Nonetheless, here are the guys they’re likely eyeing at 53.
Wilson is one of the prospects who NFL sources say has been graded way higher within the league than the media has perceived.
He’s an A+ processor who makes the proper reads and excels in underneath zone coverage. He’s a tough, high-motor backer who does well deconstructing blocks and finishing plays. There’s a lot to like about this guy.
Wilson lacks the elite athleticism and speed that teams are looking for in the draft, but he’s athletic enough to hang in the NFL, and his ability to step in year one and be a signal-caller in the middle of a defense should appeal to an Eagles team in need of immediate contributions.
If you’re concerned that any linebacker we take at 53 will be too raw to have impact on the 2020 defense, then Wilson is likely the guy you want.
Willie Gay Jr.
Mississippi St., LB
Gay is a freakishly explosive athlete with a daunting combination of speed and power. He posted a 4.46 40-yard dash, the longest broad jump, and second highest vertical of any linebacker at the combine; his stock has risen accordingly.
His performance at the combine was easy to anticipate for anyone who saw his albeit limited playing time in college, as his athletic traits are rare for a player of his size and physical nature. He’s an unrelenting tackler with the sort of thump that ball-carriers can’t forget, and the sort of closing speed fit for the pros.
Because of his relative inexperience for a player entering the draft he does have processing concerns, but any team should be willing to develop those given his age (22) and physical profile. He has as high of upside as any backer in this class, but any team that drafts him will have to get past reported character concerns.
As a four-year starter at Oregon, Dye Has been a great defender for the Ducks. During his collegiate career, Dye has accumulated 391 total tackles, 41.5 for a loss, 13 sacks and five interceptions. He’s a do-it-all kind of linebacker — the kind that defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz loves having on his defense.
Standing at 6-foot-4, Dye has a lot of range at the LB position as well as superb athletic ability. His range serves him well in pass coverage, where he matches up well with tight ends and backs out of the backfield.
Some aspects of his mental game could use some work, like diagnosing the run/pass quickly, but that’ll come with experience and good coaching. Given his pass coverage ability, Dye could be a three-down linebacker for the Eagles down the road.
Delpit should be off the board before this pick, but with the number of high-level prospects still available there’s a chance he could continue to slide.
The LSU product is a walking highlight reel and as elite of a defensive prospect as they come. He’s a rangy, uber-athletic thumper with a nose for the football; he has a high IQ, is instinctive, and can play in any number of coverages.
The biggest concern about losing Jenkins was replacing the versatile role he filled week-to-week. Though while Jenkins was forced into such a role out of necessity, Delpit was born and bread for it.
His draft stock is far lower than it should be due to tackling issues, and while those concerns are real, they’re being wildly overblown. He was the unquestioned heart, soul, and leader of the LSU defense, and major asset in the locker room—the perfect replacement for Malcolm Jenkins.
Southern Illinois, S
I wrote about Chinn earlier in the pre-draft process, and while he’s less of a need now as he was then, the team could still use help at safety long term. At 230 lbs he blurs the line between safety and linebacker, and considering the Eagles holes at both spots Chinn is worth taking a look at.
He has the tools to be the perfect sub-LB in nickel and dime packages, and possibly even a weak side backer in today’s base sets. While he struggles in man-coverage against quicker receivers, he’s excellent on tight ends and running backs—perfect for the big nickel role that Jenkins played. While Will Parks and Jalen Mills are expected to pick up some of Jenkins’ slack, Chinn is an athletic specimen whose profile fits that role closer than both players.
Mississippi St., CB
Dantzler is one of a few players who should be on the Eagles board that I haven’t written about yet, but I certainly like him.
He’s a long, explosive athlete who likes to play physical and has the sort of click-and -close ability that you look for in corners. While a press-man team might like his traits more, he’s as scheme versatile as they come and would fit right in Schwartz’s defense.
Dantzler was able to hang with the best receivers in the SEC at Bama and LSU, and perhaps the best evidence of his ability came against LSU’s Jamarr Chase—the best WR in the country. 12 plays, 3 targets, 1 catch, 2 pass breakups.
Diggs’ stock has fluctuated, and I pegged him for the Birds at this pick in my third mock draft. For a while it seemed unlikely that he would be available at 53, but with the way the board is shaping up it’s a definite possibility.
Trevon is an NFL athlete with good size (6’1” 205) and traits. He shows good technique at the LOS, a good understanding of zone spacing, and strong coverage instincts/ball skills.
The concern comes in run defense, and not for a lack of tools. He doesn’t show the willingness or know-how in this area, but if he can develop that part of his game then he’ll be great value at this range of the draft.
With the level of talent still available it’s likely that 53 is a bit high for Greenard, so if they wanted to trade back a few spots and take him they’ll probably have that option.
He’s fairly explosive off the ball, and his ability to anticipate the snap makes his above-average first step appear elite—the type of ‘get-off’ Schwartz loves. He has excellent length/size for the position to go along with impressive quickness, and his hand technique and footwork are polished. He doesn’t waste movement as a rusher, and works hard to get involved in every play.
He’s not the twitchiest athlete with the gaudiest numbers, but I have a hard time finding something I don’t like about Greenard. He’s strong against the run, as he has a great understanding of leverage, and his tackle-radius is incredible—he uses great body extension and long arms to corral any ball carrier flowing in his direction.
It’s unlikely he’ll be a double-digit sack guy as a pro (though I don’t rule it out) but multiple seasons with 6-8 sacks and 15-20 TFL seems very likely. He’s as NFL-ready as they come and has a solid floor as a well-rounded end with good upside as a pass rusher.
Obviously there are other needs at this point, but nobody should be ruling out the possibility of Howie doubling up at receiver. I’ve been higher on Peoples-Jones than most people—I ranked him as my WR7 and regret not putting him higher. His numbers suffered from poor circumstances at Michigan, but his athletic profile and tape are as impressive as any wide receiver in this class.
Peoples-Jones has all the tools you want in a receiver—size, speed, catch-radius, body control, leaping ability—and projects as a big-slot who is more than capable of winning on the outside if need be (though there are concerns about his release).
The “big slot” tag can be reductive, as he has all the tools to be a game-breaking receiver at the next level regardless of where he lines up. He’s elite on back shoulder throws and can work on all three levels of the secondary. He turned heads at the combine with a vertical of 44.5 inches and a broad jump of 139—both numbers are a testament to his explosive athleticism, ability to hawk jump balls downfield, and make plays around the goal line.
Assuming he can refine his route-running and continue to develop his breaks there’s no reason his ceiling shouldn’t be considered as high as the top wideouts in the class.
Penn State, WR
Hamler’s combination of speed, burst, and wiggle in the open field is something to behold. His skillset is somewhat redundant with Jalen Reagor, but if Kansas City is stockpiling these guys why can’t we?
Hamler is a guy who teams will find a variety of ways to get the ball to, and would work well out of the slot in the Birds RPO packages. He has the sort of speed to take the top off a secondary combined with the sharp route-running and RAC-ability that allows him be virtually uncoverable.
The catch with Hamler is his size—at 5’9’’ 180 he figures to be injury prone—and his lackluster ball skills. While he doesn’t necessarily have a ‘drop problem,’ he doesn’t win in coverage downfield as much as you would like. It’s not a huge problem, but it certainly limits his ceiling more than people realize.
Ohio State, RB
Dobbins is the only back on this list cause I think he’s the only one worth taking at 53 (though if Swift somehow falls this far its a different story).
Obviously this position isn’t a big enough need to warrant this high of a pick, but I would argue that Dobbins could be the perfect complementary back to Miles Sanders. Managing the workload of our backs is important, and we could definitely use a little more pop between the tackles for short-yardage situations.
This is where the lack of picks from 53 overall to 103 overall really hurts. There’s a handful of really solid interior lineman set to go in that range, but 53 is a little high on the board for their value.
Cushenberry is the lone exception, as his combination of flexibility, balance, and power is tailor-made for an NFL lineman. He can seamlessly slide between center and guard, where he can push Seumalo from day one and give the team optionality along the line for years to come.
As most centers tend to be, Cushenberry is intelligent and shows good instincts as a blocker. He’s more powerful than he is light on his feet, but you wouldn’t mistake him for being stiff (his mobility is average). I don’t love Cushenberry as a prospect, but at the end of the day I would be fine with this pick.