By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE — I’m baaaaaack!
Consider yourself lucky that you don’t have to endure me on Zoom while I do twice as many Mock Drafts leading up to Thursday’s first of three days of drafting that we in Eagle Nation can only hope don’t turn into a mockery of a sham.
Before we begin, let’s review the first three:
Mock 1.0) – There was a drill in proving that the Birds could go receiver-heavy, as I took four. I know they won’t take four, but it was fun to speculate.
Mock 2.0) – I was like a Jewish person eating pork on this one, as I did something that is against my Draftnik religion. I factored in some trade scenarios. It’s not like there won’t be trades. I suspect there will be, but it’s so impossible to say with which team and what will be the return. As such, I never bothered. This year, while sheltered in place, I bothered.
Mock 3.0) – Otherwise termed a “joke” by one of the mental midgets on an Eagles Facebook page, the small print clearly stated that it was a new exercise in taking the wind of the sails of we in Eagleville by showing not what I would do or what Joe Blow would do, but would be oh so Eagles to do (i.e. wait until Day 3 to address the receiver need while addressing the trenches).
Since I plan to reveal my serious Mock within 24-36 hours of the actual draft, why not try to sneak in a bonus.
The goal here will be simple. While not going the trade route, I will be staying put and drafting players I have not already tabbed in the three previous Mocks – all while addressing the same obvious needs.
Let’s call this the “Look, Ma, No Hands” Mock.
Ready? Let’s Mock (How did I need think of that before?):
Round 1 (Pick 21): Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor, 6-3, 215
Rationale: I honestly don’t see the Eagles staying at No. 21, especially now that LSU receiver Justin Jefferson is not expected to make it past No. 18. They could move up to get Jefferson or Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, but it’s more likely they move down to pick up extra picks and still grab a receiver. It could be Miami at No. 26, Green Bay at No. 30, Kansas City at No. 32 or Cincinnati at No. 33 (first pick of Round 2) – or some other team altogether that is desperate to jump in front a division rival. If and when that happens, there will still be plenty of receivers – including the athletic but somewhat unrefined Mims (pictured below) – on the board. They just can’t afford to fixate on any one player. Mims, Colorado’s Laviska Shenault, Arizona State’s Brandon Ayiuk, TCU’s Jalen Reagor and Penn State’s K.J. Hamler all have strengths and weaknesses but something special to offer to a team with a receiving corps that will look vastly different beyond 2020. There has been some talk of going in another direction in Round 1 and then addressing receiver. That could always happen – what the Eagles do is out of our control, and what other teams do is out of their control – but getting one secured early allows for other needs to be addressed.
Round 2 (Pick 53): Prince Tega Wanagho, OT, Auburn, 6-5, 305
Rationale: This seems like a luxury pick, but only on the surface. While a three-year starter at left tackle, this man-child has also played the right side. That makes Tega Wanagho (pictured below) the ideal candidate to be molded into a third tackle by offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland without having to bring back Jason Peters at three times the salary. Ironically, the general consensus is that his pro comparison, if one believes in such things, is the future Hall of Famer, Peters, himself. Why not take a clone? If not for a deep class at tackle, he’d likely be gone early as the late first round in other years.
Round 3 (Pick 103): Nick Harris, C, Washington, 6-1, 302
Rationale: The fan base will go apoplectic with the choice of yet another lineman, but my projection is that runs at other positions will push this ideal fit to eventual replace Jason Kelce into the Eagles’ laps. Harris (pictured below) is not a power blocker, but the two-time All-Pac 12 selection is known for getting to the second level, much like Kelce. Additionally, he brings some experience at guard, giving him value as a non-starter.
Round 4 (Pick 127): Kenny Willekes, DE, Michigan State, 6-3, 260
Rationale: As soon as I saw his last name, I knew he was destined for Philly, as it will be spelled wrong more than it is spelled right. That’s the bad news. The good news is that this overachiever is likely to make enough of an impact, even if it is only a role player making the most of his situational snaps on passing downs. Willekes (pictured below) won the Burlsworth Trophy, which is awarded to the college player who began his career as a walk-on. He finished his career with 51 tackles for a loss and 26 sacks. As expected from the fact that he was a walk-on, Willekes is technically sound and works hard but will need to add strength and some moves to his arsenal.
Round 4 (Pick 145): Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Vanderbilt, 5-10, 215
Rationale: Vaughn (pictured below) is an interesting story. After running for a little over 1,000 yards combined in two years at Illinois, he transferred to Vanderbilt and ran for over 2,000 yards the last two years (although he fell a bit short of a grand last year as a sole running option on a three-win team in a tough conference). He brings to the table some traits that NFL scouts value – compact frame with good vision and burst, natural hands, plus the ability to make tacklers miss in tight spaces. Guys who can do that find places in running back stables around the league, even though his collegiate travels have him entering the circuit at age 23.
Round 4 (Pick 146): David Woodward, MLB, Utah State, 6-0, 235
Rationale: Another Mock, another inside linebacker. This time, I’m going with the guy who might be so underrated that he may end up being overrated and going higher than this point. Woodward (pictured below) fell off the radar a bit because he missed five games last season due to injury. Coming from the same program that produced Bobby Wagner and others at the position, Woodward is lauded for his natural instincts, which allow him to play the position with the patience needed to not look foolish in the NFL. While he will need to show he is healthy and can play at full speed, expect a rookie to bolster special teams put of the gate.
Round 5 (Pick 170): Cole McDonald, QB, Hawaii, 6-3, 190
Rationale: Another Mock, another developmental quarterback. But, wait, hold up a second. I kind of like this one, and might just return to it in the final version. McDonald (pictured below) took advantage of running a passer-friendly attack the last two years, accounting for around 8,000 yards and 69 passing touchdowns. He is also a running threat (11 rushing touchdowns). While it’s easy to put up numbers for the Rainbow Warriors, the tape shows applicable skills for the next level – accuracy on throws outside the numbers, decisiveness, mobility and noble willingness to stand in and take a hit. Why, then, is he projected as a Day 3 pick? At 190 pounds, there is a legitimate fear about his health and well-being. He has also rarely played under center and doesn’t really have a rifle for an arm. Then again, he is favorably compared to Gardner Minshew, the same Gardner Minshew who displaced the beloved Nick Foles as a rookie last year in Jacksonville. Don’t get excited out there. He wouldn’t be supplanting Carson Wentz, but maybe – just maybe – he could be an OK No. 2 after Nate Sudfeld pushes on in 2021.
Round 6 (Pick 190): Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota, 6-2, 205
Rationale: This isn’t the sexiest pick, but this highly productive receiver will find a place in the league somewhere. Why not let it be here? Johnson (pictured below) hauled in 199 passes for 3,164 yards and 32 touchdowns in the last three years. What is he still doing here this late in the draft? For one, he is not a sexy pick. It is almost as if he peaked and, with limited tools, reached his ceiling already. Plus, his 40 time is slightly north of 4.5. A little bigger and a little faster, and he’d like go late in Day 2 instead. Just keep in mind that an annual rite of passage are receivers everyone fawns all over who don’t make it while guys like Johnson do. Not saying it will be him who defies the odds this year, but the risk-reward in Round 6 is worth it.
Summary: I was just having fun here and throwing caution to the wind without overthinking it. You know what? I kind of like what I did here. I would be fine with this haul when the dust settles. Yay, me!