By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE – It’s easy to sit here and write all about who I would take in the NFL Draft – which begins next Thursday night (first round), then Friday (second and third rounds) and concludes Saturday (Rounds 4-7).
It’s equally easier to give the people – that’s all of “yews” – what they want as well.
But, if history as taught us anything, it is that de facto GM Howie Roseman and Co. are going to do what they are going to do without our input. It is likely to involve names we didn’t even kick around all this time in quarantine, while not even following the same thought process in terms of addressing needs.
Does that mean the brass is sometimes overthinking? Absolutely. Does it also mean we have no clue what is going on behind closed doors, in terms of which veteran players could be on the move or could be dealing with injury issues not known to the public? Hell, yeah. We also don’t know which players have caught their eye – at the combine and on film.
While my Mock Draft 1.0 featured an unrealistic overflow of receivers, specifically to quiet those of “yews” worried about that need, Mock Draft 2.0 had some trade scenarios that are impossible to predict. Now, for Mock Draft 3.0, it’s going to be a projection of what they very well may do that leaves us scratching our heads – at least until we get the “spin control” afterward.
Here we go:
Round 1 (Pick 21): Cesar Ruiz, C-G, Michigan, 6-3, 315
The Spin: It’s year to year with Jason Kelce, and center has become crucial to the offense because of his play. Ruiz is the best center prospect to come out in years, so they will say, so it’s best to grab him now and let him learn behind the All-Pro. How will Kelce take this? I don’t know. He might be offended, but he could also be relieved, as he has hinted at retirement for a while now. Also, it’s not like Isaac Seumalo is a burgeoning All-Pro at left guard. Ruiz could probably take that job and push Seumalo into the more comfortable role of a versatile sixth lineman. Moreover, the outcry over not taking a receiver – “we looked at it but the asking price was too high,” Roseman will say – will be mitigated by feel-good stories about Ruiz (pictured below) being a Camden native who always dreamed of playing for the Eagles.\
Round 2 (Pick 53): Curtis Weaver, Edge, Boise State, 6-3, 265
The Spin: Like Kelce, Brandon Graham isn’t getting any younger. Meanwhile, the long-term impact of recent DE picks – Derrick Barnett, Josh Sweat and Shareef Miller — remains uncertain. There will likely still be enticing receivers on the board, but they will say this is the guy they wanted all along and that they even considered him in the first round (eye roll). And, really, drafting an edge player is a springtime rite of passage going back to when Roseman went on coffee runs. May as well get it over with, right? Weaver (pictured below) may never be an every down player, but he has pass rushing specialist written all over him, as he had 13.5 of his 34 career sacks just last season.
Round 3 (Pick 103): Trey Adams, OL, Washington, 6-8, 306
The Spin: Those second-tier receivers that were still there? Guess what? They were all gone, with 10 picks to spare, with pick 103 came around. They stayed true to their board here, saying the game is won upfront and that you can’t have enough offensive linemen. Even though Adams is a solid prospect with upside, this will be the head-scratcher – at least on the surface. The reality, though, is that the tackle position is as rich in talent this year as wide receiver. It’s just not as glamorous. In another year, this starter of 45 straight games at left tackle would be a Top 50-75 pick. Because he has some serious injuries, which stoically battled through, he fell to the Eagles. Adams (pictured below) could be viewed as a hedge against last year’s first-rounder, Andre Dillard, or a top-end third tackle who could use a good 15-20 pounds on his frame and some technical work.
Round 4 (Pick 127): Lynn Bowden, WR, Kentucky, 6-1, 200
The Spin: They are going say they are lucky this under-the-radar guy fell to them, and it won’t be a lie. As is the case with Adams in the third round, depth at the position pushed Bowden into the Eagles’ lap. Bowden (pictured below) was forced to play quarterback for the depleted Wildcats, a selfless move which showed a lot of character. While going 6-2 as a starter under center, it also hurt his draft stock a bit by stunting his growth into being a Day 2 pick as a receiver. Still, Bowden has good speed (4.5ish), reliable hands and some return game skills. For the Eagles, assuming that DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery are back health – and that Greg Ward picks up where he left off in the slot (while J.J. Arcega Whiteside theoretically evolves) – they can let a guy like Bowden be a bit of a wildcard.
Round 4 (Pick 145): Shaquille Quarterman, ILB, Miami (Fla.), 6-0, 240
The Spin: Position of need (although they won’t admit that), and will be portrayed as an excellent value pick – even though this is just about where Quarterman (pictured below) is slotted by most so-called experts. Saved his best for last, earning All-ACC honors with 51 of 107 tackles being of the solo variety. Looks the part of a NFL inside linebacker, but the fear is that he may miss as many plays as he makes, which is a no-no that get you benched fast.
Round 4 (Pick 146): Devin Duvernay, WR, Texas, 5-11, 210
The Spin: They still got two receivers who were stellar college players while staying true to their board and addressing needs on Days 1 and 2. Duvernay (pictured below) had almost 1,400 receiving yards last season, and he runs a 4.4 40. Why, then, did he last this long? Although he could take the top of a defense in college, he is projected as just a one-trick pony — a slot receiver — in the big leagues. That doesn’t bode well for Ward’s long-term future, but it bolsters the overall depth in the stable for now. Duvernay, a sprint champion in high school, also has some return game experience.
Round 5 (Pick 170): James Morgan, QB, Florida International, 6-4, 225
The Spin: With the long-term future of backup quarterback uncertain beyond this year (Nate Sudfeld has a one-year deal and there seems to be no real interest on either side to make the relationship last beyond that), the door is open for another to be developed alongside of – or instead of – practice squad holdover Kyle Lauletta. Morgan (pictured below) had some impressive workouts before the lockouts, and he may have put himself into the draft – as opposed to being a priority UDFA – as a result. While the upside is there, as he can make the requisite throws, it is still raw.
Round 6 (Pick 190): Joshua Kelley, RB, UCLA, 5-11, 210
The Spin: Kelley (pictured below) was a productive workhorse in college, not only for the Bruins, but at FBS level at Cal Davis before transferring. This may have worked against him as a prospect, as NFL teams like running backs with less tread on their tires and a little bit more mystique. His highlight reel won’t wow anyone on YouTube, but Kelley’s style may translate better than scat backs who won’t be able to run away from anyone in the pros much anyway. While not really a dynamic runner, his meat-and-potatoes style – one that produced games like the one he had against rival USC (40 carries, 289 yards) – might make him a nice short-yardage fit with Miles Sanders as the go-to back and Boston Scott and the change-of-pace back. In addition to his production – two 1,000-yard seniors at UCLA – he has some kick return experience.
Summary: The first question will be about safety, and Roseman will say there were some they liked, but they stayed true to their board. And, with that, there will be the announcement that Avonte Maddox will get reps at safety. He will also tout the fact that he signed athletic freak Marc Antoine-Dequoy (pictured below) of Montreal (not a misprint), who is sure to become a folk hero (look at his hair) and could actually stick as a special teams guy while learning to play safety. While I fully expect more picks to be found, via trade, maybe by dumping one of the back-to-back picks at the end of the fourth round for two later on, most boxes were checked off. “Yews” will be a bit ticked off that, in a year of stud wideouts, we came away with guys who don’t float many boats. Time will tell on that one, as receiver remains one of the most difficult positions to project in the last decade. It very well could be that a Day 3 receiver, or someone signed after the draft, matches or exceeds the play of a big-name guy from a big-time program anyway. What will be unspoken – and unasked by the press hoard – is that they successfully navigated around taking a Temple player for yet another year.