By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE – Today was supposed to be the day I put the pedal to the medal and came up with Mock Draft 5.0, which was the make the previous four seem like 90-pound weaklings eating sand at the beach.
However, I have become so enthralled by Mock 4.0 – one in which I was just swinging from the hip – that I have decided to let it stand as final stab in the darkness of what will really go down Thursday through Saturday.
No reason to go back and check it. This is one-stop service.
Here’s recap: First round (pick 21), Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor. Second round (pick 53), Prince Tega Wenagho, OT, Auburn. Third Round (pick 103), Nick Harris, C, Washington. Round 4 (pick 127), Kenny Willekes, DE, Michigan State. Round 4 (pick 145), Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Vanderbilt. Round 4 (pick 146), David Woodward, MLB, Utah State. Round 5 (pick 170), Cole McDonald, QB, Hawaii. Round 6 (pick 190), Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota.
I still think believe there is, at best, a 50 percent chance the Eagles pick at No. 21 in the first round. They may trade up for one of the top four receivers, or they made trade back a bit and get more picks (or maybe a disgruntled veteran).
It’s just impossible to predict what moves – up or down – other teams are going to make, and which teams would make ideal dance partners for the Eagles once there is a ripple effect.
We can only guess at scenarios. Truth be told, Howie Roseman can only guess right now. All the phone calls are made, but it’s all contingent on what others do.
How about this for a theory, annexed from my cranium? LSU’s Justin Jefferson (pictured below) probably the last of the elite receivers, somehow lasts until the 21st pick. While the Eagles would likely be elated, what if Cincinnati came in and played Vito Corleone and made an offer Roseman couldn’t refuse?
The Bengals would be aching to reunite Jefferson with likely No. 1 overall pick, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.
The compensation? The best the Bengals could do would be their second- and fourth-round picks, which means the Eagles would be without a first but would be kicking off Day 2 and Day 3. The Bengals could throw in disgruntled back Joe Mixon, giving the Eagles the thunder to pair with Miles Sanders’ lightning, and maybe the Eagles ship Rasul Douglas or Alshon Jeffery to the Bengals. A trade of Jeffery anywhere else would require the Eagles gagging on a chunk of his contract. Out of gratitude, maybe the Bengals are willing to at least split the cost.
There would likely be another a few of the second tier of receivers – including Mims — on the board to kick off Day 2. They could use that first pick of Day 3 to grab another receiver who slipped through the cracks of a loaded draft at the position.
Another move could be for disgruntled Jacksonville defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. There have been some wild deals proposed on the internet – some even want to ship tight end Zach Ertz out of town – but it may be as simple as the Eagles swapping their first for Jacksonville’s second (42nd overall). There would be other pieces and picks, but that would be the main thrust of it. Both teams would be – or should be – ecstatic. And, yes, one of that second group of receivers would still be there at No. 42.
But, until other dominoes fall, this is all speculation.
Instead, let’s get down to brass tacks here, with a position by position look at who the Eagles could theoretically target – along with when and why:
Quarterback: It is not necessarily a necessity to bring in another arm. I have sent a Day 3 quarterback to the Eagles in each mock draft, as they stunk up the joint last year with Clayton Thorson in the fifth round. Right now, the concern is No. 2 behind Carson Wentz. The idea of the team being 10-2 and him going down, meaning Nate Sudfeld becomes the starter, is disconcerting. That said, Sudfeld is better than a No. 3 at this point in his career. My guess is that, after the draft, they bring in a veteran. My money is on Joe Flacco, although I could see Jameis Winston on a one-year deal. Flacco, at this point, might be cool with a long-term role. I’m sure the Eagles did their due diligence on all the incoming quarterbacks and would pounce on one in Day 3, maybe as early as the fourth round, if one – maybe Jordan Love (Utah State), Jake Fromm (Georgia) or Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma, pictured below) — they had a higher grade on. If more Day 3 picks are acquired, then they could burn one on a guy like Hawaii’s flamboyant McDonald (Mock 4.0) or Washington State’s Anthony Gordon (Mock 3.0).
Running Back: Well, if they acquired Mixon – or even brought back LeSean McCoy for a final hurrah – the need is less. That aside, the depth behind Sanders and Boston Scott is nill. They are many who fit the bill who could be had on Day 3. I have mocked the likes of UCLA’s Josh Kelley, South Carolina’s Rico Dowdle and Vanderbilt’s Vaughn. Others often linked the Eagles are Florida’s Lamical Perine and Boston College’s A.J. Dillon, a 250-pounder (pictured below) who may not make it to Day 3.
Wide Receiver: There will be receivers taken, that much is certain. The questions are who and when? They could go for another position – like linebacker (see below) — in Round 1 and then hit receiver in Round 2 and again another time or two. At Pick 53, though, it’s a bit of a roll of the dice. The top four are – in no particular order – are the Alabama tandem of Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb and the aforementioned Jefferson of LSU. If the Eagles trade up, the word is that it is most likely to be for Lamb (unless one of the Alabama guys slip). Jefferson was almost universally mocked to the Eagles at No. 21, but his stock has reportedly risen a bit. The second tier of receivers would be a solid first tier most years. In addition to Baylor’s Mims, we are looking at – in no particular order – Laviska Shenault, Jr. (Colorado), Tee Higgins (Clemson), Jalen Reagor (TCU, pictured at top), Brandon Ayiuk (Arizona State) and K.J. Hamler (Penn State). Each brings different body types and skill sets. Shenault (6-2, 225), Higgins (6-4, 215) and Mims (6-3, 215) are bigger receivers who could replace what will be lost, whenever that is, by the departure of Jeffery (6-3, 215). While the Eagles are banking on a healthy DeSean Jackson this year, the others fit the mold of a deep threat. Ayiuk (5-11, 190, 4.4 speed), Reagor (5-11, 195, 4.4) and Hamler (5-9, 176, 4.37) each also add much-needed return skills. They would consider themselves lucky to have a choice between two of these players at No. 53, but the odds are that only Hamler would be left – and that’s not a certainty. That would mean a bad whiff on the elite receivers in this year’s crop, and I would say the draft is a failure without at least one of these nine (the elite four plus that strong second group) eating cheese steaks next year. Yes, there are others who could make impacts – USC’s Michael Pittman, Ohio State’s K.J. Hill among them – that would be Round 2 reaches but likely not around by late Round 3. In Round 4, receiver’s like Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden, the Texas duo of Devin Duvernay and 6-5 Collin Johnson or Central Florida’s Gabriel Davis could be added. They could also take a Day 3 gamble on small-school stud Antonio Gandy-Golden (pictured below) of Liberty.
Tight End: With the combination of Ertz and Dallas Goedert on the field together, defensive coordinators around the league are up at night. If they even want to carry three on the active roster, Josh Perkins (can also play receiver) and Alex Ellis (solid on special teams) are still on the roster. That said, just like quarterback, the Eagles wouldn’t be above spending a value pick – especially if more are acquired – on a tight end who slides a bit. Fitting that description would be Dayton’s Adam Trautman, Vanderbilt’s Jared Pinkney (pictured below), one from LSU – Thaddeus Moss (son of Randy) or Stephen Sullivan – or Charlie Taumponeau of Portland State.
Offensive Tackle: Because Jason Peters probably won’t be back — and should do the dignified thing and just retire — the Eagles might just be wise to dip into a talented pool that it is as a deep as that at receiver. I went for Auburn’s Tega Wanagho in Mock 4.0 on raw potential and his ability to play both sides, meaning he could be a third tackle for a while, but burning a second-round pick may not be realistic. They could still look to a player like North Carolina’s Charlie Heck (6-8, 307) or Missouri’s massive Yasir Durant (6-6, 343) later. There will be clamoring for Jon Runyan’s son (and dead ringer), Jon Runyan, Jr. (pictured below) of Michigan, but the 6-4, 313-pounder is more of a guard-tackle tweener without much projected upside.
Interior Line: The reality of eventual life without Jason Kelce creates interesting scenarios. The Eagles could look for a pure guard like Kentucky’s Logan Stenberg (6-6, 322, pictured below), and as early as Round 2 (or cross their fingers he lasts to Round 3, which is unlikely) and groom Isaac Seumalo to move from left guard to center (unless they see something in Nate Herbig, who made the team as a USDA out of Stanford last year), or they look at a pure center like Michigan’s Cesar Ruiz, Temple’s Matt Hennessey (the Eagles have not drafted a player from Temple since 2011), Washington’s Harris (Mock 4.0) or Wisconsin’s Rimington Award winner Tyler Biadasz.
Defensive Line: While set at tackle, and lieu of a trade with Jacksonville, the Eagles could go draft shopping here. If they traded back in the first round, picking up more draft capitol on Day 2 to address receiver, someone like 6-6, 280-pound A.J. Espenza (pictured below), who somehow still runs in the 4.75 range, comes into play in the latter part of the first round. Ditto for Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos. If LSU’s explosive K’Lavon Chaisson falls to 21, it would be tempting. On Day 2, in keeping with their history of Tennessee defensive ends (Reggie White, Derek Barnett), a player like Darrell Taylor would be a name to watch.
Linebacker: It would be a shock if the Eagles didn’t come away with at least one. Like receiver, it’s just another question of who and when. There is serious talk about Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray (pictured below) in the first round. Another player who might be too good to pass up, just on talent, outside linebacker Zach Baun of Wisconsin, although some see him more as a 3-4 outside linebacker, meaning he wouldn’t really be a scheme fit here. Murray or Baun he might be the best player available at No. 21, but it would leave them waiting until No. 53 — or later — on receiver, and pushing back other needs, like interior line and secondary (see below). If they hold off, there are still options — Logan Wilson (Wyoming), Malik Harrison (Ohio State), throwback Shaquille Quarterman (Miami) and Woodward (Mock 4.0) of Utah State. Another guy I mocked earlier, who I love — at least as a situational hybrid/special teamer — is Akeem Davis-Gaither of Appalachian State (6-1, 220). Roseman is often criticized for neglecting linebacker in drafts, but the secret reality is that the Eagles coveted Leighton Vander Esch, who went to Dallas in 2018.
Secondary: . With the acquisition of Darius Slay as that long-craved lockdown corner, the immediate need there is not pressing but not out of the question. Jaylon Johnson of Utah, Louisiana Tech’s Amik Robertson (pictured below) and Kristian Fulton of LSU would be solid Day 2 picks. Temple’s Harrison Hand would be a potential Day 3 heist, but he has the Temple hex working against him. With Malcolm Jenkins gone, the safety position may need a long-term solution beyond Will Harris and Jalen Mills (Rodney McLeod is locked in for the long haul). If they could pick up another second round pick, Division II standout Kyle Dugger, who can line up almost anywhere (via Jenkins), is a possibility. Jeremy Chinn of Southern Illinois and J.R. Reed of Georgia have also been linked to the Eagles. Another intriguing prospect is Marc-Antoine Dequoy of Montreal, should the Eagles maybe acquire a seventh-rounder.
Summary: The national crisis has cast a cloud over the draft as well. It is more cloaked in mystery in ever. Will teams play it close to the vest and base picks on college potential, in lieu of seeking upside? My guess would be yes, but I also guess life would be back to normal by now. As for the Eagles, as already stated, there are many ways to go. I saw a reputable mock today that had them going with Murray, the linebacker, in the first round and still coming away with Reagor in the second at No. 53. If that happens, without having to give up picks, maybe some of the Howie Haters out there would stand down.