It’s no secret that the Eagles are likely going to focus on the defensive side of the ball in this upcoming NFL Draft. Howie Roseman has spent the past 4-5 years bolstering his offensive weaponry through the draft — now it’s time for the defense to get some love.
In this latest iteration of our first-round mock draft, the Eagles bolster their defensive front-seven in a big way.
So without further ado, let’s jump into this Eagles first-round mock.
15th overall, LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
For all intents and purposes, Utah’s Devin Lloyd is the best all around 4-3 linebacker in this year’s draft class. In 2021, Lloyd did everything for Utah’s defense. He racked up 111 total tackles, 22 of which went for a loss. He also recorded 7 sacks, 4 interceptions, and 2 touchdowns. All in one season.
Lloyd is a bonified stat sheet stuffer at the linebacker position and will fit well in any defensive scheme. He possesses all the physical traits that you want in a linebacker. Lloyd comes in at 6-foot-3, 232 pounds, and he sports a long, compact frame that allows him to maximize his range.
But, what really separates Lloyd from his fellow linebacker prospects is his football IQ. Not only does Lloyd do a great job at diagnosing a play pre-snap, his post-snap play recognition typically leads to a turnover or a tackle for a loss.
We know the Eagles don’t value linebacker as much as most teams, but perhaps they’ll have a change of heart this year. It’s impossible to ignore how a great linebacker can impact a defense. The Cowboys completely revitalized their defense in 2021, due in large part to Micah Parsons.
Lloyd is a completely different player than Parsons, but the point still stands. Lloyd’s impact on this Eagles defense would be worth the 15th overall selection, there’s no doubt about that.
16th overall, EDGE David Ojabo, Michigan
No one in this entire draft class boosted their draft stock as much as David Ojabo did in 2021. He only played 26 snaps and recorded one tackle heading into his final year at Michigan. Once he found his way into the starting lineup for the Wolverines, he and Aidan Hutchinson formed arguably the best pass rushing duo in the nation.
In 2021, Ojabo totaled 35 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, and 3 pass deflections. He’s one of the freakier athletes entering this year’s draft. Standing at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, Ojabo has great size for a defensive end. He’s able to use his long frame to generate a lot of power off the line of scrimmage.
Typically when we discuss these top tier athletes at the defensive end position, more often than not they rely on that athleticism so much that they barely mix up their pass rushing moves. That is not the case with Ojabo. He boasts a plethora of pass rushing moves and performs all of them at an above average level.
Not only will Ojabo contribute right away, he has plenty of upside as well. He’ll help solidify the Eagles pass rush and keep it steady for years to come. There’s no doubt he’ll be on Howie’s radar come draft night.
19th overall, EDGE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State
Two edge rushers in the first-round? It may sound crazy for most franchises, but not for the Eagles. First, we know Howie Roseman’s team building philosophy is rooted in the trenches. Second, the Eagles pass rush was bad in 2021. Josh Sweat was the only defensive end to record more than two sacks on the year. Derek Barnett is set to become a free agent, along with Ryan Kerrigan. Brandon Graham should be back in time for training camp, but he’ll enter the year at 34 years old. He may only have one year left in the tank, making the need for edge rushers all the more important.
Howie could look to free agency to acquire some defensive end depth, but why not save the cap room for an impact player in the secondary and get two starting caliber pass rushers on rookie deals?
Ojabo is a better prospect than Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson, but Johnson really boosted his draft stock with his Senior Bowl outing. He won nearly every one-on-one rep and showcased his nasty bull rush.
He also displayed solid pass rushing technique throughout the week:
I understand being weary of spending two first round picks at the same position, but the Eagles, more so than any other organization in the NFL, understands the value of having multiple pass rushers. Philly’s pass rush would instantly go from a weakness to a strength. And I don’t think any of us can really complain about that.