Eagles: ESPN’s 2023 first-round mock draft has Philly doubling up on defense

Draft Season ’22 is well behind us now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look ahead to next year’s draft.

ESPN’s draft expert Matt Miller recently dropped a first-round mock draft for all 32 teams in 2023. He had the Eagles finishing the season with the 16th and 19th overall picks, pretty similar to where their initial selections slotted this past year.

For the Eagles, focusing solely on the defensive side of the ball was what most fans wanted during draft night. Miller seems to have the same thought process for the Birds heading into next year’s draft.

With the 16th pick, Miller has the Eagles taking Clemson defensive end Myles Murphy. Here was his reasoning:

Take a quick look at the Eagles’ defensive end depth chart and it’s easy to see the position becoming the top need next offseason. Murphy anchored the Clemson defensive line in 2021 with seven sacks while bouncing between end and tackle. With Bryan Bresee returning from injury, the 6-foot-5, 275-pound Murphy should see more action at end this season. He has a chance to dominate with his quickness off the edge.”

He’s spot on with his projection of the Eagles’ needs next offseason. 2022 could be Brandon Graham’s final year with the team and the same could be said for Derek Barnett, who signed a two-year deal with the team this offseason with clear out next offseason if things don’t work out.

That leaves Josh Sweat and Tarron Jackson as the only viable defensive ends on the roster past this season. Haason Reddick will get some run along the edge and he should be able to mitigate any major losses at the position, but he’s going to have a specific role as the defense’s starting SAM backer.

Murphy currently ranks 10th on Pro Football Focus‘ big board and is the second-highest rated defensive end in the class according to the outlet. Pro Football Network describes Murphy as, “An explosive athlete with a torrid first step… can accelerate quickly into the backfield with powerful strides. At times, he shows off near-elite acceleration capacity for his size, particularly when he has a runway to quicken his feet.”

Even if defensive end isn’t an evident need for the team next offseason, we know Howie Roseman will be keeping his eyes on the crop of edge rushers primed to enter the draft. Murphy will undoubtedly be on his radar.

With the Eagles second selection in the first-round, ESPN has Philly taking South Carolina cornerback Cam Smith. Here’s what Miller had to say about this one:

A big, 6-foot-1 cornerback with elite ball skills, Smith had 11 pass breakups and three interceptions last season. He’s also a willing and able tackler (41 total tackles). Ricks and Ringo get the most hype, but Smith might be the most well-rounded cornerback in the nation. For the Eagles, this is about putting premium capital to inject youth into their secondary.”

Cam Smith is the top corner on PFF’s big board and by most accounts seems to be the top corner in the nation. The chances of him falling all the way to 19th feel slim, but it goes without question that the Eagles will need to address the cornerback position through the draft in the near future.

For the past two draft cycles, I’ve clamored for the Eagles to take a corner in the first round. I was a huge Jaycee Horn fan in 2020 and I was willing to trade up for either Derek Stingley or Sauce Gardner this time around. Howie has gotten by with a patch work secondary full of veterans on expiring contracts. I just don’t know how much longer that can sustain itself.

Darius Slay will be 31 years old this season and James Bradberry is playing under a one-year contract. The team has a bunch of young corners behind them who could develop into something, but they’re all either late round picks or undrafted players. It’s about time the front office attacks the cornerback position in a meaningful way through the draft. Hopefully next year we finally see that.


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