By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE — The last time we met, my Mock Draft 1.0, was an exercise in suicide prevention for all those who thought the Eagles had no hope at receiver. To prove a point, more than anything else, I took four receivers. Although I think it’s likely they take more than one – probably two, if I were laying a bet – we know four was not only a stretch of the imagination but a chance for us to stretch our thinking to what could be possible.
While I generally don’t adhere to mock drafting with trades, this coronavirus thing has allowed me another shot – in Mock Draft 2.0 – before getting down to business with 3.0.
So, for today – as was the case with 1.0 – we are going work outside the margins a but and throw in some trades.
Last time around, I had the Eagles taking LSU receiver Justin Jefferson at No. 21. Today, for this drill, I’m trading down for a later first and a second. Perfect world, we go to, say, Miami at 26 and also get No. 39 in the second round, which would probably be too much for Miami to give up to just to move up five spots. So, I’m looking more at Green Bay at No. 30, which might be looking to get in front of the Saints (No. 24) to snatch Jefferson. Green Bay, in this deal, also sends us its second-round pick, 62nd overall.
Now, I get on the horn with the Jaguars and offer No. 30, as well as our third-rounder and cornerback Rasul Douglas for coveted defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, their second-round pick (42nd overall) and their second of two fourth-round picks (137th overall).
This puts the Eagles out of the first round in what it is an uncertain draft year anyway, but leaves them with three – instead of one – second round picks. There is no longer a third-round pick but four (127, 137, 145 and 146) instead of three, in the fourth – going along with one in the fifth (168) and another in the sixth (190).
My trading will conclude by sending Alshon Jeffery to either the Colts (familiarity with Frank Reich) or Bears (past success with Nick Foles, who will be their quarterback by midseason), but there is no hurry there. The return will future considerations (i.e. a Day Three pick in the year 2525).
So, with the reshuffled deck, here we go:
Round 2 (Pick 42, Acquired – theoretically — from Jackonsville): Laviska Shenault, Jr., WR, Colorado, 6-2 215
Rationale: Without a chance to visit teams in the flesh, there is no way to know where this wunderkind is, physically. On talent alone, he might be right there with the three receivers expected to go in the first half of the first round. Unlike two of them – Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III of Alabama — Shenault was not part of a three-headed monster (Alabama has another receiver likely to go in the first round next year) with a stud quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, throwing them the ball. With Colorado, opponents knew Shenault was the focal point of the offense and he still made plays. He has the size of a running back (see above) and runs in the 4.5 range. Considered still a raw product, Sheanault draws favorable comparisons to J.J. Smith-Schuster.
Plan B: There is a chance, though, Shenault may not be left at No. 42. When you drop down from 21 to 30 to 42, while picking up a stud defensive end, it is the risk you run. The feeling here is that, if he isn’t there, Denzel Mims of Baylor will be. Although also raw, Mims is 6-3 and 215 pounds and runs a sub-4.5 40. Come away with one or the other, and we’re doing fine (as long as J.J. Arcega-Whiteside improves).
Round 2 (Pick 53, our own): Kyle Dugger, DB, Lenoir-Ryne, 6-0, 210
Rationale: A little bit risky here, as some other receivers could be on the board, but Dugger is a hot commodity right now after proving the pro scouts that his college dominance at a lower level of competition was not a fluke. Dugger is a hitter and runs just over 4.55. A free safety and return man in college, he could eventually play a Malcolm Jenkins role in the Eagles defense, as he has the ability to line up anywhere from outside corner to slot corner to linebacker to safety. It may take a year to learn those nuances, but he would be a maniac on special teams, and maybe even a return-game option, as a rookie. With the moves made in the secondary in the offseason, there is no immediate rush. However, there will likely be new holes and roles to fill in 2021 and, by then, he’ll be shovel-ready.
Plan B: As is the case above, there is no guarantee Dugger lasts this long. If not, and considering that I traded Douglas to Jacksonville, I’m going to stay in the defensive backfield with my backup option and take Noah Igbinoghene, a pure corner from Auburn. The son of two Nigerian Olympians, he checks in a 5-11, 200 pounds. He runs a 4.4 40 that carries over, unlike others, to the playing field. His closing speed is considered to be, perhaps, the best in the draft crop. He probably wouldn’t play much defense as a rookie, but would be a surreal gunner on punt coverage while learning the fine points.
Round 2 (Pick 62, Acquired – theoretically — from Green Bay): Brandon Ayiuk, WR, Arizona, 5-11, 190
Rationale: This is where I rolled the dice, as this undersized college game-breaker, who would add immediate juice to the return game, could go anywhere from the late first round to middle of the third. Projections are all over the map (one has the Eagles taking him at No. 21, for example), as some scouts see another Tyreek Hill while others just a part-time receiver and return man. Many teams aren’t going to spend first- or second-round draft capital on that. For the Eagles, where DeSean Jackson can hold down the deep threat role for at least a year – while Greg Ward can be more and adequate in the slot, should that be Ayiuk’s eventual place in a NFL offense – he is a long-term good fit (as long as too much isn’t expected too soon).
Plan B/C: There is a 50-50 shot he isn’t there, so I would hope that a similar player, Penn State’s K.J. Hamler is still on the board. If both are gone, I’d be fine with checking off my mandatory two-receiver 2020 “Need” box with someone like TCU speedster Jalen Reagor, whose projections are also all over the map, or Ohio State’s K.J. Hill, who was highly productive in a big-time offense and should definitely be available.
Round 4 (Pick 127): Logan Wilson, ILB Wyoming, 6-2, 240
Rationale: Word on the street – if anyone were out in the street to hear the word – is that the Eagles are high on the tackling machine with a classic frame. Wilson started four years, an achievement that is tempered a bit by the fact that it was at a lower level of competition. However, like Dugger, our second-round pick, he was a can’t-miss playmaker on the field. What likely has the Eagles enthralled is that, in high school, Wilson was a two-way starter – at wide receiver and defensive back. He hit the weight room in college to become a beast at the next level.
Round 4 (Pick 137 – Acquired – theoretically – from Jacksonville): Tony Pride, Jr., CB, Notre Dame, 5-11, 193
Rationale: He runs a 4.35 40. Do you need more rationale beyond that? Yes, there are reasons he drifted into the fourth round. He doesn’t always play “up” his athletic gifts and could stand to be a bit more physical. Because he might be relegated to the slot, he may need more aggressiveness to excel. Still, he runs a 4.35 40. We can work with that, as the Eagles talked a lot about improving their team speed after last year.
Round 4 (Pick 145): Rico Dowdle, RB, South Carolina, 5-11, 214
Rationale: There are a litany of other backs expected to drafted on Day 2 of the draft, and one or two will likely slide into the Eagles’ laps early on Day 3. That aside, they could do worse than Dowdle, whose main knock is the time spent on the trainer’s table throughout his career. However, he fought as hard as could to get on the field, starting 29 of 39 possible games in a productive career (2,167 rushing yards with 16 touchdowns and 483 receiving yards). In terms of skill set – one that includes a 4.50 time in the 40 – he checks off a lot of the requisite boxes for a NFL back: quick first step, ability to make defenders miss in tight spaces, yards after contact and nice hands on screens.
Round 4 (Pick 146): Akeem Davis-Gaither, OLB, Appalachian State, 6-1, 219
Rationale: The Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year is one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft, having been insanely productive over the span of his 55-game career (258 tackles, 28 for a loss, 8 sacks, 18 passes defended, two forced fumbles and so on). However, his size – or lack thereof – is hard to ignore. As such, he becomes a classic boom-or-bust prospect. This late in the draft, if he is still on the board, the risk is mitigated. At the least, you are looking at a guy who will bring his fierce compete level to special teams and some sub-packages as a hybrid linebacker/safety.
Round 5 (Pick 168): Calvin Throckmorton, OL, Oregon, 6-5, 310
Rationale: Versatility. He can play anyway on the line, but the question is if he can play anywhere – full-time – at the next level. The only spot Throckmorton hasn’t started at for the Ducks was at left guard, meaning the Eagles will likely try to force feed him there when they try to convert Isaac Seumalo to center if and when Jason Kelce hangs them up. That, plus his name and the fact that he played at Oregon (though too young to have been a Chip Kelley recruit), make him the classic boom or bust prospect destined for Philly.
Round 6 (Pick 190): Anthony Gordon, QB, Washington State, 6-2, 210
Rationale: Listen up, all ye knuckleheads on social media, the Eagles are not going to somewhow get Nick Foles back (maybe someday, but not this year). Forget Cam Newton or Jameis Winston, and don’t start with the Colin Kaepernick stuff. Nate Sudfeld is your No. 2, with Josh McCown likely on speed dial again. A year from now, though, it will look different. Sudfeld only signed for one more year, and will likely look to move on. McCown will be one year closer to collecting social security. The third quarterback on the roster is Kyle Lauletta, who they liked enough to carry over from last year’s practice squad. Another developmental arm is likely. Gordon fits the bill, as he has the requisite arm strength and gunslinger mentality. Nobody is going to draft him high because, with his height and lack of mobility, he doesn’t look the part of a franchise quarterback. That doesn’t mean he can’t make his way as a quality backup. He will need coaching on what is reportedly horrendous footwork. The staff is in place for that here, so the opportunity exists as well.
Summary: Remember, this is a mock draft with trades. Again, this was a mock draft with trades. It is theoretical – as in theory. I’m trying to type as slowly as some of you dimwits who might be reading this.
I do believe that No. 21 could be a bit of a No Man’s Land for the Eagles. They don’t have the picks to move up, unless they want to dip into next year’s stash.
Instead, in this scenario, we moved back – to No. 30 and then into the second round – but picked up the coveted Ngakoue to make the defensive end rotation – with Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat – as lethal as that of the one inside (Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Malik Jackson, Hassan Ridgeway).
I guarantee two receivers out of Shenault, Mims, Ayiuk, Hamler, Reagor or Hill and a defensive back – Dugger or Igbinoghene.
Other needs – linebacker, running back, offensive line, secondary depth and developmental quarterback — were met on Day 3, and don’t forget that, while Howie Roseman takes heat for draft misses, his record with UDFAs is pretty strong.