Did signing Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Chance Warmack alter the Eagles’ draft plan?
No. You know why? Because it’s highly likely this has been their plan since the offseason began. Focus on Wide Receiver in free agency and then have the draft be their primary resource to address the defense (aside from finding a Running Back).
In fact, they could very well be following the plan I laid out here back in February. If the Eagles couldn’t get Jeffery and/or Smith, then THAT is what would likely have altered their draft strategy.
To the chagrin of some, it is highly unlikely the Eagles will take a WR with their first round pick now. For those hoping for Corey Davis, Mike Williams or John Ross, you will be disappointed (only exception is if Ross drops to the 2nd round after shoulder surgery).
The Eagles just have too many holes still to fill, mostly on the defensive side now. They have so many needs that they could still legitimately go in several different directions with their first pick. The only positions I’m ruling out are QB, WR and TE.
I recently wrote an article talking about why it’s not a bad idea for the Eagles to trade back in this draft. After writing that and thinking about it some more, I am starting to really warm up to that idea.
Therefore, I decided to do a mock exercise to see what it could look like if the Eagles traded back and added a premium pick to their draft haul this year.
*For the record, there are a couple of players that, if there at 14, I would not trade back. I’ll get into that another time though.
On to the mock…
The Eagles are on the clock at pick 14 and a few of their top targets are off the board. However, Corey Davis is just sitting there waiting to be plucked. Eagles fans are in a frenzy hoping they take him.
But, the Detroit Lions…after a season in which they missed Calvin Johnson…are just too enamored with Davis and want him badly. They give the Eagles picks 21 and 53 (their 2nd rounder) in order to move up.
That gives the Eagles three picks in the top 53 in a draft that Daniel Jeremiah believes there are 70 players worthy of top 50 status.
1.RB Christian McCaffrey, 5′ 11″ 202 lbs, Stanford
The Eagles have not been linked to McCaffrey in any way as of yet. However, that doesn’t mean anything at this point. My bet is that he’ll end up visiting with the Eagles and/or working out for them.
McCaffrey certainly fits Doug Pederson’s offense perfectly. He would end up being Pederson’s version of Brian Westbrook and use him the way Reid used Westy…and then some.
Is it a stretch to think they’ll use their first round pick on a RB? Every Eagles beat writer will say it’ll never happen based on the team’s history as well as Joe Douglas’ history.
I’m here to say that I think it’s not as much of a long shot as everyone may think.
Remember, Roseman wants to do all he can to ensure Carson Wentz succeeds. Giving him Jeffery, Smith and then a player like McCaffrey will immensely help that goal. McCaffrey can do it all…he can be utilized in so many different ways, his value is exceptional.
In fact, I would view him as the better overall football player as compared to any CB who will likely still be on the board. Lattimore will be long gone and Sidney Jones is injured. Are players like Marlon Humphrey, Tre’Davious White or Gareon Conley truly worth the 14th pick?
I like those players, but they have enough questions that I don’t see any of them as a “must take” at 14.
I think McCaffrey is a more talented football player over those guys…and Daniel Jeremiah agrees. He has McCaffrey ranked ahead of all of them in his last top-50 player ranking.
So, the question I ask you is this: If Reuben Foster, Derek Barnett and Marshon Lattimore are all off the board when the Eagles are on the clock, exactly who is “worth” pick 14 that the Eagles should absolutely not consider trading down?
And don’t say Corey Davis, Mike Williams or John Ross…the Eagles will not be selecting any of them.
Their first round pick will almost certainly be either a DE, CB or, you guessed it, a Running Back. If the Eagles can trade down, get the extra pick and still land a player like McCaffrey…I’m all for it.
Furthermore, how about this angle to consider: the draft is in Philadelphia, maybe Howie Roseman will want to make a pick that will electrify Eagles fans. Picking McCaffrey would certainly thrill the fans more-so than Gareon Conley.
I’ll admit that this is more of a what I would want them to do kind of pick rather than a what I think they will do kind of pick.
2. CB Adoree Jackson, 5’ 10” 186 lbs, USC
The Eagles obviously cannot wait any longer to start addressing the CB position and get started by taking the ultra-versatile Jackson. Jackson, like McCaffrey, also “does it all.”
He is a skilled athlete and dangerous with the ball in his hands. Last season, he scored twice on punt returns, twice on kickoff returns and once on offense. He also recorded 11 pass break-ups and five INTs while immensely improving as a cover corner. Jackson also has no problem defending the run and isn’t afraid to take on ball carriers.
Jackson appears to play with confidence, a trait that Jim Schwartz is said to like in a CB. The fact that he’s also a playmaker should make him even more of interest.
2. DE Derek Rivers, 6’ 4” 248 lbs, Youngstown State
Rivers is strong, fast and has a good burst off the line and would be an excellent fit in Schwartz’ Wide-9 alignment. Last season he posted 19 tackles for a loss, including 14 sacks. His small school status is what will keep him from being drafted too early, but he dominated at his level and his stock has been soaring over the last month or so.
The Eagles absolutely have to address the DE position, and do it relatively early in the draft. One of the best ways to help your secondary is to pressure the QB.
3. CB/S Desmond King, 5’ 10” 201 lbs, Iowa
For some reason, I love Desmond King for the Eagles. I just think this guy is a good all-around football player. He is one of the more physical CBs in this draft and has a workman-like attitude.
For the Eagles’ purposes, I think he would start out as the slot CB and would slide to Safety in the event of an injury. As much as I like Malcolm Jenkins, he will turn 30 this season. So, I see King as his eventual replacement.
King reminds me a little bit of Sheldon Brown. They’re approximately the same size, seem to have similar personalities and approach to the game. I can see King being the eventual leader of the Secondary once Jenkins moves on.
Over the past two seasons, King has 20 pass break-ups and 11 INTs in addition to being named the winner of the Jim Thorpe Award (in 2015), which goes to the nation’s best defensive back.
In fact, with the Eagles grabbing Jackson and King they’d have the past two Jim Thorpe Award winners in their Secondary!
4. CB Howard Wilson, 6’ 1” 184 lbs, Houston
Yes, the Eagles have triple-dipped in the defensive back pool! And with good reason, they simply need bodies! However, Wilson is more than just a body…
He has good length and tested extremely well at the Combine in the short-shuttle and 3-cone drills (92 and 90% respectively). Last season he posted 10 pass break-ups and five INTs, which was his first season as a full time starter.
Wilson is seen as a talented, yet raw prospect with more refinement needed. Some feel that if he returned to school for his Senior season, he could have developed into more of a first or second round prospect. This lack of refinement is why he may still be available in Round 4 and could turn out to be a steal.
4. DT Ryan Glasgow, 6’ 3” 302 lbs, Michigan
The Eagles continue their defensive restoration by addressing the DT position. Bennie Logan is gone and even though Beau Allen is a decent player, they don’t have much behind him.
Glasgow’s stock has slowly been gaining steam as of late and it’s getting questionable if he’d be available at this slot. I wouldn’t be opposed to taking him earlier or perhaps trading up a bit from here to nab him if necessary. Here’s a scouting report on him from Pro Football Focus…
Stats to know: Ranked second in pass-rush productivity among interior defensive linemen with 37 total pressures.
What he does best:
- Excellent awareness, locates ball carriers consistently and recognizes passing lanes to deflect passes.
- Exceptional instincts, senses offensive influence countering traps and screens effectively.
- Power to disengage with active hands. Rarely blocked cleanly.
- Impressive first step, fires off the ball from both a 3- and 4-point stance.
- Good anchor, sinks his hips to negate vertical movement vs. double teams.
- High motor, chases everything and works to whistle as a pass-rusher.
- Displays excellent hand placement and variety rushing the passer, forces offensive lineman to overextend with the arm over and club moves in particular.
- Nightmare to block on the backside of zone.
- Length (32 ¾-inch arms) makes it tough on offensive lineman to reach his frame.
- Unable to consistently redirect in the backfield to track down elusive ball carriers.
- Vulnerable to cut blocks because of his emphasis on delivering the initial strike.
- Frequently loses his balance moving laterally vs run, struggles to narrow lanes on the front side of outside zone.
- Despite impressive strength, only rarely utilizes the bull rush, lacks conviction when employing power moves.
Player comparison: Jay Ratliff
Glasgow has the size, strength, and athleticism to line up anywhere between the tackles and still provide some pass rush. Ratliff won through the edge of offensive linemen consistently much like Glasgow.
Bottom line: Glasgow is an atypical nose tackle in some respects. He possesses the lateral agility to make fools of interior offensive lineman as a pass-rusher, but appears reluctant to collapse the pocket using his evident power. His strength does prove an asset against the run, where he displays classic stack and shed technique, but there remain a couple vulnerabilities within his skillset. Regardless, Glasgow was incredibly productive as a senior, and represents a safe option for an NFL defensive line rotation.
5. LB Vince Biegel, 6’ 3” 246 lbs, Wisconsin
Linebacker is an underrated need for this team. With Kendricks on the way out (seemingly), the Eagles could really use some depth and competition here. Jordan Hicks is a budding star but also has an injury history dating back to his college time. Nigel Bradham was solid last year and should remain a starter. But, after that?
Bryan Braman is still unsigned. It’s possible the Eagles are waiting it out with him or just simply moving on. This is where Biegel comes in…he will step right in as a key Special Teams contributor and provide depth — if not competition for a starting role – at the LB position. Biegel tested decently at the Combine as his numbers were mostly middle of the pack.
You can read this scouting report on him at NFL.com where they say things like his “football character is off the charts, has demeanor and traits of a special teams demon and is an emotional leader.” Special teams should remain a focus for Pederson and crew.
6. WR Mack Hollins, 6’ 3” 201 lbs, North Carolina
Late round gem? Quite possibly! After researching him, I cannot believe this guy isn’t getting more buzz. His 2016 season ended prematurely due to a broken collarbone, so I suppose that could be the reason for his lack of attention thus far.
However, he is definitely on the Eagles’ radar as he was one of a few specific WRs the team had Carson Wentz work out with back in February.
Hollins sounds exactly like a guy the Eagles would be interested in. Check out this scouting report by Pro Football Focus…
Stats to know: 1,008 of Hollins’ 1,667 (over 60 percent) career receiving yards have come on passes more than 20 yards downfield. Averaged 20.6 yards per reception on his 81 catches.
What he does best:
- No matter what the 40 time says, Hollins can and will run right by defenders with a long stride and once he’s at full speed it’s hard for anyone to catch him.
- Tracks the ball well, can catch over his shoulder without losing speed, but also showed the ability to catch underthrown contested balls by going up and high-pointing. Can adjust route if ball poorly placed.
- Surprisingly strong and quick cuts on breaks of routes, doesn’t lose a lot of speed and doesn’t tip them often.
- Can beat press coverage with a variety of moves. Plus if he beats press, he’s gone.
- Catches with his hands, showed much improvement from 2015 to 2016 (6 drops on 36 targets to 1 drop on 17 targets).
- Played every facet of special teams and was a captain, can contribute there right away for an NFL team.
- Not a big route variety. While he showed some nice breaks on in and out routes, he rarely ran them. Almost exclusively a “take the top off” receiver in college.
- Didn’t show much after the catch in terms of making guys miss. Forced only three missed tackles in three years.
- Not a lot of experience on contested jump balls. Doesn’t mean he can’t win those, just rarely saw them in college.
Player comparison: Mike Wallace, Baltimore Ravens
Few receivers had the straightaway speed of Wallace in his prime, but Hollins looks every bit the part. Wallace could run right past a defender, and if he caught it there was no catching him. Wallace was a raw route runner coming out of college, and while he improved, he’s always been a deep-threat receiver first and foremost. Hollins on the field looks very similar to early Wallace, except he’s taller.
Bottom line: Hollins is a big-time sleeper in this draft. Hardly anyone is talking about him but his tape is extremely impressive. He scored 20 touchdowns in three seasons at UNC, and 15 of them were on deep passes (20-plus yards in the air). Almost all of them looked the exact same, with Hollins blowing past a defender or two, catching it in stride and gliding into the end zone. He’s still a work in progress, as his route-running isn’t perfect. But his game speed and deep-threat ability is so off-the-charts on tape that he has the potential to be a very good NFL receiver. He also adds instant special teams impact, which teams should covet.
7.TE Darrell Daniels, 6’ 3” 247 lbs, Washington
Dart throw pick here. Eagles could use a developmental TE since Brent Celek’s time in Philly may likely end after this upcoming season. Daniels offers some physical tools and athleticism to work with.