By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE — The smart money is on the Eagles drafting Alabama running back Josh Jacobs in the first round Thursday night.
The rumor mill is now spitting out the name of mercurial wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown as being linked the Birds.
Nay, I say.
I’d be shocked if the brain trust – Howie Roseman, Joe Douglas, Doug Pederson and the senior scouts and most valued assistant coaches – didn’t lay it on the line at pick No. 25.
That’s if they even stay at No. 25, as it is just as likely they either move up 5-10 spots or drop back as far as the early second round and pick up additional picks.
Since my request to have the phones at the NovaCare Complex tapped was denied, I’m not privy to what conversations with other franchises may or may not be going on.
So we will stick the board as currently constructed and take a run at a Mock Draft, which will be a delicate combination of who I would take in my dream job as Eagles’ GM and who they are likely to take based on past tendencies.
Away we go:
First Round (Pick 25) – Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
I think this is guy, I always he would be the guy and I would be shocked if the 340-pounder (give or take a few in either direction) would not be the guy. While boasting a larger-than-life personality in the spirit of Jerome Brown, Lawrence is similar to Brown in the sense that he is more than just a run-stuffer. At the NFL level, he will at least collapse the pocket enough to make the life of his fellow linemen easier. And if their lives are easier, so will those of the linebackers and secondary. Meanwhile, in a division where your team faces Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott twice a year, another run-stuffer is not a luxury.
Second Round (Pick 53) – Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
With a knee injury that will likely keep him out of action for most of the season, this would be a red-shirt selection of a guy with first-round talent whose stock may have dropped a bit anyway because of character concerns. Eagles’ fans are rightfully wary of this whole scenario because cornerback Sidney Jones, taken under similar circumstances in Round 2 in 2017, has yet to stay healthy and really do much. However, each situation needs to be judged on its own merit. This would be a case of stealing a Top-15 talent and storing him up for later. There is no reason to rush Simmons, who could also use the year to soak up the mature culture of a NFL locker room anyway. Some mocksters still have Simmons going in the window of the late first round to early second, and he still might, but I have been following this stuff for too many years to see it happening.
Second Round (Pick 57) – Jaylon Ferguson, DE, Louisiana Tech
Whether or not Chris Long retires, and even if last year’s fourth-round pick Josh Sweat emerges, more depth is needed here around starters Derek Barnett and Brandon Graham. While Vinny Curry has flown back to the nest, he is likely to be used a lot inside on passing downs. He’s 6-5 and will likely play at 260-265 has a NFL-ready burst off the edge that will give teams fits when coming fresh off the bench into games on obvious passing downs.
Fourth round (Pick 127) – Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma
Anderson, when healthy, is one of the most talented backs in this draft. Despite three season-ending injuries, he could be snatched up on Day 2 (second or third round) by a team enamored by tape from his 2017 season that saw him use his cutback skills to accumulate 1,442 yards and 18 touchdown and look good doing it with his long and strong 6-1, 220-pound frame. Since the Eagles have the committee in place behind newly acquired starter Jordan Howard, there would be no reason to rush Anderson into action.
Fourth Round (Pick 138) – Ross Pierschabacher, C/G, Alabama
Out goes Stefen Wisniewksi, in comes another player with a name worthy of the final round of a spelling and who sports similar characteristics. While it is presumed the Eagles will be looking for a tackle in the draft, my gut tells me they will look more toward the interior and spend another year evaluating Halapoulivaati Vatai and Jordan Mailata as long-term solutions before spending draft capital on another. Wisniewski’s departure via free agency, Brandon Brooks coming off a knee injury and Jason Kelce hinting that the end of his career his nearing makes the interior a more pressing need. And while their paths did not cross at Alabama, offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland’s blocking schemes are still used there, easing any learning curve – assuming one is even needed for a player who started 42 games at guard for the Crimson Tide before sliding over to center last year.
Fifth Round (Pick 163) – Trevon Wesco, TE, West Virginia
This pick may be off the grid a bit, as the Eagles boast an excellent 1-2 punch at tight end with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, but the 270-pound Wesco is a freakish athlete for his size who may just be scratching the surface. Conceivably, he could line up at tight end while Ertz and/or Goedert line up in the slot. And if someone does a Vulcan mind meld with Pederson, convincing to use a fullback, Wesco would be epic in that role. Plus, last year’s draft was the first since Roseman return from exile that a player from West Virginia was not drafted.
SIXTH ROUND (Pick 197) – Jahlani Tavai, MLB, Hawaii
He may prove to be just a core special teams guy at the NFL level, but the Eagles would be pulling off a major heist is the best defensive player to come out of Hawaii in ages continued showing the knack for the football that led to him collecting 391 career tackles, including 41 for a loss, and 17 ½ sacks in his career. There is also an arrest charge in his file, which hurt his draft stock but may help the team that grabs him late.