The NFL Draft is less than a month away, and while most pundits have spent the past few weeks/months preparing for the 6th overall pick, last week’s trade back to 12 reshuffled the cards to a certain degree. While some prospects are no longer in play for the Eagles, they’ll still be able to add the same sort of blue-chip prospect at 12 that they previously would have at 6, they just have a slightly different choice of names.
The Eagles officially have 11 picks in the upcoming draft—(1) 12, (2) 37, (3) 70, (3) 83, (4) 123, (5) 150, (6) 189, (6) 224, (6) 225, (7) 234, & (7) 240 overall. The way I see it, the team’s three biggest needs are secondary, wide receiver, linebacker; with smaller depth needs at pretty much every other spot.
Round 1 (pick 12)
Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech CB
Four QBs, Sewell, Parsons, Surtain and all of Chase, Smith, Waddle, Pitts were off the board by 12 but I’m more than happy with Farley, the top defensive back on my board (no. 9 overall). While “need” isn’t/shouldn’t be a factor in this pick, cornerback happens to be one of the Eagles biggest needs.
Despite being new to the position, Farley is as natural as they come and has every tool a corner could need. He pairs plus size, length, speed, and athleticism with quiet feet, fluid hips, and instinctive mirroring skills to stick in man coverage; more reps will allow him to get a better feel for zone, but his ball skills are apparent on tape. Tackling fundamentals will need to be refined, but he’s physical and willing in this regard. A playmaker through and through, Farley has it all.
Round 2 (pick 37)
Elijah Moore, Ole Miss WR
While there’s much debate over 12 overall, I’m almost more intrigued with what Howie elects to do here. In this range there‘s strong prospects all over (LB, Edge, OT, WR) but the selection ultimately depends on how the board falls, and I was left with a choice of Moore and Carlos Basham (Edge, Wake Forest)—I love both but I had to go offense here.
At 5’9” Moore is undersized, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem for him. He possesses elite change of direction skills, soft hands, and is equally tough at the point of catch as he is through contact after the catch. Despite his size he’s a real playmaker downfield, where he does good job of tracking, adjusting to, and high-pointing throws in his vicinity. To boot, Moore absolutely feasts against man coverage, and as his route-running sharpens he’ll become even more uncoverable in this regard. While there‘s doubt around his ability to release from press coverage on the outside, he’s talented enough to be a WR1 in this league solely from the slot.
Round 3 (pick 70)
Jamin Davis, Kentucky LB
I’ll start by saying that I’m not sure Davis will be available this late come draft day, but it’s not unreasonable given the number of linebackers expected to go before this pick (he’s the LB6 on my board, and sixth one taken in this mock).
With just one year as a full-time starter Davis is understandably raw, but his length, athleticism, and coverage traits are difficult to overlook. Teams that need for a backer who can cover downfield will be satisfied with this skillset, but his ability to hang against the run will make or break his ceiling as a prospect. Are there technical lapses on tape? Sure. But for every miss there’s a handful of plays that feature him scraping across the line, navigating blockers, and wrapping up the ball-carrier with the speed/efficiency normally only seen on Sundays. If he lasts til 70 this is a no-brainer.
*TRADE* Packers receive [83 overall]—Eagles receive [92 & 135 overall + R6 in ‘22] in return
I didn’t love the board at 83 so I added another pick at 135 overall and a 6th rounded next year to move back nine spots to 92.
Round 3 (pick 92)
Michael Carter, UNC RB
The plan was to wait until 150 or 189 to tackle running back depth but a combination of Carter being available and an underwhelming board around him led to this pick.
Carter isn’t a lead ball-carrier by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s a competent change-of-pace option and a real weapon as a receiver out of the backfield. He’s lightning quick with plus speed, agility, and burst—though predictably lean and weak through contact. He is a smart runner who knows when to be patient and when to hit the gap, and has experience behind a number of blocking concepts. Pair that with a low pad-level and an ability to work through tight angles and it’s hard to see him missing at the next level. The key here is developing in pass protection—without that a team can’t truly take advantage of his mismatch value as a receiver.
Round 4 (pick 123)
Benjamin St. Juste, Minnesota CB
I‘d be surprised if St. Juste is on the board at 123—he’s the 15th CB selected in this mock, and while that‘s possible given the depth at this position, I wouldn’t count on it (St. Juste is my 10th ranked CB). Nonetheless I’ll take what I’m given, as should Howie when prospects with these tools fall through the cracks.
The Minnesota product isn’t the most polished product, but he has the desired length (6’3” with a 6’8” wingspan) and requisite athleticism to enamor pro scouts; he’s well-equipped to battle at the LOS in press coverage and contest at the point of catch. While St. Juste stands to improve from a technical standpoint—with his ability to process route combinations in off-coverage being a major swing trait—these tools are impossible to pass up this late in the draft.
Round 4 (pick 134)
Damar Hamlin, Pittsburgh S
Speaking of DBs who slip through the cracks of a deep class, I had an opportunity to grab a prospect in Hamlin who’s just recently beginning to get his due recognition as a prospect. While Paris Ford is the Pitt safety getting most of the pre-draft press, his running mate in the defensive backfield is every bit the pro prospect.
“Reactive athleticism” is a phrase I’ve read a few times when researching Hamlin, and it shows up on tape every play. In coverage he’s rangey and instinctive, which allows him to make plays as a single high safety; and against the run he triggers downhill without hesitation, playing with impressive thump for his size (though he could stand to bulk up a little at just 195 lbs). He’s not a plus athlete, but versatility and a high-IQ make him an ideal third-safety.
Round 5 (pick 150)
Tommy Tremble, Notre Dame TE
I wanted to trade back a few spots and possibly add a fifth rounder next year but nothing was offered. After two defensive selections I opted to spend a bullet adding youth to the offense, and with Ertz presumably on his way out the TE position could use some youth.
Tremble is what I would describe as an athletic blocker—he’s most effective when detached from the line and asked to make blocks in space/on the move. He was never a prolific receiver at Notre Dame (he’s not a sharp route runner) but he’s a decent enough athlete to make plays with the ball in his hands after the catch. He profiles as a TE2 in a spread, run-heavy offense that can maximize his value in play action.
*TRADE* Raiders receive [189 & 225 overall]—Eagles receive [167 overall] in return
I wanted to add another wideout and didn’t anticipate a halfway decent prospect to be available at 189 so I was aggressive in moving up after consistently looking to move back.
Round 5 (pick 167)
KJ Stepherson, Jacksonville St. WR
Stepherson is a ridiculous talent who was forced to transfer from Notre Dame after a string of off-field issues. After landing on his feet at Jacksonville State he enters the drafts as your classic boom-or-bust prospect at the wideout position. With modest size he plays with eye-popping long speed, quick feet, and is explosive elevating and bursting out of breaks. Paired with strong route-running (albeit on a limited route tree), good ball skills, and a dangerous RAC skillset the only thing that can derail a prospect like this are character concerns—something teams will need to do their due diligence on.
Round 6 (pick 224)
Janarius Robinson, FSU Edge
I feel strongly that Robinson won’t be around at 224 once teams become more familiar with his skillset, but for now he’s being considered a day three prospect by most outlets, and he was available here. Like many FSU defenders he was the victim of coaching turnover that negatively influenced his development/on-field performance, nonetheless there’s enough evidence to suggest he can make it as a pro if deployed correctly.
A massive body, excellent functional strength, and strong hands allows him to excel as an Edge defender; and while he’s not a polished pass rusher, the tools are there to become proficient at the next level. At the very least he profiles as a 4-3 base end who can kick inside, 5-tech in odd fronts, but ultimately rotate out on passing downs.
Round 7 (pick 234)
Quinton Bohanna, Kentucky DL
Bohanna is a thick run-stuffer who‘ll likely be targeted by odd-front teams because of his profile mainly as a nose tackle, but that shouldn’t preclude the Birds from adding someone who can eat blocks in the middle of the defense. At this range of the draft you’re looking for depth, and Bohanna is the mold of a DT4 who plays an unselfish role on obvious run downs.
Round 7 (pick 240)
Feleipe Franks, Arkansas QB
If you’re going to look me in the eye and suggest that Hurts can start in this league then why can’t Franks? He’s not a high-end prospect but his skillset makes him a perfect fit as a backup to Hurts and the presumed Eagles system.
Two corners in the top-125 picks, a safety at 135, a cover linebacker at 70, two wide receivers in the top-170 picks, a real “1B” weapon at RB in the top-100, a good-fit TE2 at 150, some depth at Edge/DT in the seventh, capped off with a good-fit QB3. Include adding a sixth for next year and I’ll take that.