With the NFL Scouting Combine getting underway this week, we’ll finally get a glimpse at the physical tools all of these prospects bring to the table. Although the combine has turned into more of a television event than an actual evaluation tool in recent years, it’ll serve as our first glimpse at these prospects in an NFL setting.
The Eagles in particular have a lot of homework to do leading up to draft night. With three first-round picks at their disposal, along with eight picks inside the top-150, Howie and Co. will have their work cut out for them.
Here’s our latest three-round mock draft for the Birds.
15th overall, CB Trent McDuffie, Washington
Washington’s Trent McDuffie has been a popular selection in our mock drafts, and for good reason. With Steven Nelson’s departure on the horizon, the Eagles will need to add at least one starting caliber corner through free agency or the draft. The going rate for a corner on the open market could prove to be too high for Roseman, especially with Darius Slay and Avonte Maddox under contract already.
Of all the corners in this year’s class, McDuffie may fit into the Eagles’ defensive scheme the best. He’s a versatile zone corner who can lineup at any position in the secondary. The majority of his collegiate snaps came on the outside, but he’s spent time in the slot and at safety.
Though is 5-foot-11, 195 pound frame could be viewed as a negative, it never affected his game at the collegiate level. McDuffie has proven to be one of the most physical corners in this class, showing a willingness to tackle and fight through contact at the point of attack.
Playing in a predominantly zone coverage scheme at Washington, McDuffie doesn’t have much experience playing press-man and his ball production is lacking compared to his peers. Nevertheless, he was arguably the best coverage corner in the Pac-12 in 2021, allowing a completion percentage of 44.4 percent and a passer rating of 52 when targeted, which ranked first and second respectively among Pac-12 corners. Not to mention he posted a forced incompletion rate of 16.7 percent, fourth among Pac-12 corners last year.
McDuffie’s skill set should translate well to the NFL, and in a Jonathan Gannon scheme that relies heavily on zone concepts, there’s no reason to think he won’t thrive in year one if he’s drafted by the Eagles.
16th overall, WR Drake London, USC
While there isn’t a true consensus on who the No. 1 receiver is in this year’s class, USC’s Drake London is certainly in the running for that claim. Standing at 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, London is the most physically imposing receiver entering the draft this year. Despite only playing eight games in 2021, he still led the nation with 19 contested catches.
Much like McDuffie on the defensive side of the ball, London may be the best fit of any receiver in this class for Nick Sirianni’s offense. He’s a true X receiver and a perfect complement to DeVonta Smith. Although a lot has been made of London’s contested catch ability, he’s a savvy route runner who can leave corners in the dust with his sneaky quickness. He doesn’t have great straight line speed, but he still has the ability to get open on a regular basis. Typically when we discuss these big bodied receivers, their downfall always seems to be route running and getting open. London is the exception to that rule and it’s why he’s being projected as a potential top-10 pick.
In short, London can be everything that some fans thought J.J. Arcega-Whiteside could be. A physical receiver who can catch everything thrown his way, with some solid route running ability to boot.
19th overall, LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
We all know by now that Howie is reluctant to take linebackers this high in the NFL Draft. But if Utah’s Devin Lloyd falls this far, it would be malpractice to pass him up.
While Georgia’s Nakobe Dean gets a lot of hype in his own right, Lloyd is a more complete backer who would fit better into Gannon’s defense. He’s a prototypical modern NFL middle linebacker who can stay on the field in any situation. Running downs, Lloyd will be sure to fill the gaps and chase down ball carriers. In coverage, Lloyd is more than capable of sticking with running backs and tight ends. Rushing the passer, Lloyd is stout in that area as well, racking up seven sacks in his final collegiate season.
He’s truly the complete package at linebacker. And while the team hasn’t valued the backer position in quite some time, snagging Lloyd at 19th overall would be a great value pick. It’ll take an outstanding linebacker prospect for Howie to buck his trend of never selecting a linebacker in the first-round, and Lloyd definitely fits that bill.
51st overall, EDGE Boye Mafe, Minnesota
Although Boye Mafe is not a plug and play starter from day one, he provides enough on the pass rushing front to warrant a pick in the second-round. He’ll likely play as a rotational pass rusher during his rookie campaign as he continues to develop his traits.
Mafe is a smooth athlete who has showcased solid pass rushing ability at the collegiate level and he earned the best pass rushing grade at this year’s Senior Bowl, per Pro Football Focus. He has the awareness to throw in rips moves and sweeps when lineman get their hands on him and he flattens the angle nicely when bending around tackles.
He’ll need some work in the running game, where he routinely got glued onto blockers in college. Mafe sets the edge well in these situations and shows effort to follow the ball carrier, but far too often he’ll find himself in no man’s land on running downs. But he’s shown growth in this area with each passing year at Minnesota.
Mafe is an ascending player who will need some time to develop at the next level. Luckily for the Eagles, they’ll have Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat manning the starting edge roles for their defense in 2022. As long as Mafe can provide some pass rushing assists on third downs, he’ll have an impact role sooner rather than later in Philly.
83rd overall, S Kerby Joseph, Illinois
The Eagles are desperately going to need safety help this offseason. Illinois’ Kerby Joseph has a lot of traits Gannon covets in his safeties. He fits well into a split-safety defense and has some of the best ball skills of any defensive back in this year’s draft.
Joseph tallied five interceptions during his final year at Illinois and he allowed a completion percentage of 47.3. He does a great job flipping his hips and changing direction in coverage, along with tracking down the ball when it’s thrown his way. His 21.1 percent forced incompletion rate was among the best in college football this past season. Joseph is arguably the best pure coverage safety in this draft, and he has proven to be a stout tackler in the open field as well.
Gannon ran a lot of three-safety looks during the latter half of the 2021 season. With Joseph in the fold, Gannon shouldn’t shy away from that look. He and McLeod will have the back half of the defense covered, while Marcus Epps will be able to roam more freely around the line of scrimmage.