By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE – Crank up the Aerosmith.
Not talking about that newer crapola.
Not into dudes who look like ladies.
Talkin’ old School …
I’m back in the saddle.
Time for my Eagles-only 2021 NFL Mock Draft 2.0 Edition
This time around, I accepted more trade offers. The only ones I rejected were those where the Birds, with so many holes to fill, were asked to give up more picks than received. For some teams, that makes sense. For our Eagles, at this place in time and place, it did not.
You will also not that I did not take a tight end, as I’m now trying to cling to the hope that Zach Ertz mends fences with the front office and returns. It would be mutually beneficial for both sides. In a year where there might not be a lot of positives, there is the PR plus of him becoming the franchise leader in receptions. Also, with a solid season (doesn’t need to be spectacular), he can then sign elsewhere (and bring a decent compensatory pick, which would about the same value that the Eagles would get in a trade now anyway).
Also, with the signings of stopgap linebacker Eric Wilson and big back Jordan Howard, I reassessed those positions as well.
OK, ready to rock?
Let’s dream on …
Round 1 (Pick 19): Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
Explanation: In a lot of the mocks I have been doing, Kyle Pitts is there at 12. We know that is not going happen. He may not get out of the Top 5, and definitely not the Top 10 (in this one, he goes to Dallas at 10). The top three receivers – LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase and both Alabama receivers, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle – were also gone. There were a few offers to move down, but the one that made the most sense was from NFC East rival Washington. In exchange for the 12th pick, used for Mac Jones, the Eagles get the 19th pick and a first in 2022 (meaning at least three, if not four). The choice came down to Newsome, who has nice size (6-1, 190) and rising up the draft boards from initially being viewed as a solid Day 2 pick, or Minnesota receiver Rashod Bateman. Tough call, but I went with Newsome, who has the type of maturity to not be as flustered as a rookie put out on an island and has sound ball skills.
Round 2 (Pick 37): Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
Explanation: Not much to say here. The best at his position in a strong draft has to be the choice. When I saw his name sitting there, I honestly did not even look at who else was available. The Eagles may have done some temporary patchwork at the position for now, but you don’t want to look back 3-5 years from now and get sick to your stomach over passing on a perennial Pro Bowler.
Round 3 (Pick 88): Tommy Togiai, DT, Ohio State
Explanation: If you are wondering how we got to Pick 88, put down the aspirin. A lot wheeling and dealing, from Pick 70 to 74 and then 74 to 84 and 84 to 88. You will also see a plethora of picks in the fourth and fifth rounds as a result of these deals. There are just too many holes to plug and too many quality players to not go and pick up more picks in the guts of the draft. GM Howie Roseman may do some of this, but not to this extent. I did a lot of it and, as it turned out, I’m glad. There is a glaring need at defensive tackle. Fletcher Cox is still very good, but not as a consistently dominant, and the persistence of “stinger” injuries is worrisome. Javon Hargrave is OK, at least for now, but a third player is needed to rotate in while being groomed for a larger role. Togiai (6-1, 300) is stout at the point of attack and, while he may still have some rough edges, is clearly a future starter. He’ll never be a premier pass rusher from the inside, but he will be consistently solid against the run.
Round 3 (Pick 103): Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis
Explanation: While this is a deep running back class, it was not as deep in power backs. Bringing back Howard, who was inexplicably underused by Doug Pederson last year after being plucked off waivers, alleviates that need and opens up the field – literally and figuratively – to someone with a more unique skill set. Gainwell (5-11, 195) is more of an offensive weapon – a chess piece – than a traditional running back. After opting out last season, he was able to nudge his speed under 4.4 and he consistently outruns the angles to the outside. In addition to running for 1,469 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2019, he often lined up in the slot and had 610 receiving yards and three scores on 51 grabs.
NOTE TO NAYSAYERS: You will see picks coming up on Day 3 that were not originally the property of the Eagles. They are result of trading back from the third round, and a little bit more in the fourth round. In a few packages, all of which were offered to me, I had to include the two seventh-round picks.
Round 4 (Pick 118): Tutu Atwell, WR, Louisville
Explanation: Like Gainwell, Atwell may never be an every-down player, but he will still create ulcers for opposing defenses. He is 5-9 (maybe) and 170 (maybe) but legitimately runs a notch under 4.4 and can take the top of the defense. He has added value for gadget plays, as he was a heavily recruited dual-threat quarterback out of high school.
Round 4 (Pick 127): Ambry Thomas, CB, Michigan
Explanation: This is a result of minor swap of Day 3 picks offered by the Colts, but he would have been the choice at No. 123 anyway. The only real knock on this corner with requisite size (6-0, 185) is that he is too aggressive and needs to be refined a bit. Because we have Newsome to play more right away, we can live with the learning curve. You can’t teach size or speed (4.35), and Thomas has both.
Round 4 (Pick 136): D.J. Daniel, CB, Georgia
Explanation: Sense a pattern here? Another corner who may not be shovel-ready on Day 1 but who also has the requisite size (6-1, 185) and speed (4.4) to play on Sundays. The only question is game experience, as he was a junior college transfer who answered the call in 2019 as junior before injuries set him back last season. It might take a year of playing special teams, or not even being active on game day, but this could end up as an absolute steal.
Round 5 (Pick 147): Rodarius Williams, CB, Oklahoma State
Explanation: A four-year starter who took a licking in pass-happy conference and kept on ticking, eventually emerging as one of the best defensive backs in the Big 12. He is not quite as long (5-11) as our other CB picks — and he runs in the 4.5 range — but he is an excellent tackler who will help on special teams and could get a look at safety if corner doesn’t work out.
Round 5 (Pick 150): Cade Johnson, WR, South Dakota State
Explanation: I don’t really see the dire need at receiver as other do. Back in the fold are Greg Ward (led the team in receptions) and Travis Fulgham (led the team in yardage) and all three of last year’s draft choices. However, Johnson is similar to Atwell in that he can bring some part-time juice to the picnic. In addition to some ability as a return man, he is solidly built (just under 5-11, 185 pounds) with some short-range burst on reverses. After a solid career at a lower level, Johnson put himself on the radar with a nice showing at the Senior Bowl. His best trait is that he is has sure hands. Johnson primarily projects a slot receiver, which is good news for all you Ward haters out there.
Round 5 (Pick 158): Jamie Newman, QB, Georgia
Explanation: After the news that the Eagles are moving street free agent Kahlil Tate away from receiver and back to quarterback, where he excelled at Arizona before a forgettable senior season, you could make a case that another undrafted QB to compete with him is all that is needed for now. However, Joe Flacco is only here for a year. Someone like Newman could end up as the eventual No. 2 behind Jalen Hurts and he plays the same style, meaning the whole offense would not have to be reworked if and when there is a quarterback change in 2022 and beyond. Newman has requisite size (6-3, 230) and excellent running ability for a bigger guy. While not possessing a cannon for an arm, some work on mechanics can help him get the best out of what he has in his arsenal. Even if Tate shows some potential, it will be raw and he would be an easy practice squad stash.
Round 5 (Pick 163): Trey Hill, C, Georgia
Explanation: Hello, Newman (see above)! You will have your college snapper to work with while he is potentially groomed to replace Jason Kelce. Unlike some other centers in this class, Hill possesses excellent size (6-3, 330) and plays a pure power game. He also has some experience at guard, which is another plus (bye Sua Opeta). There are some medical questions, as he put off knee surgery to play in pain last season, but Hill can always be redshirted for a year. Kelce coming back allows for that luxury.
Round 5 (Pick 165): Charles Snowden, LB, Virginia
Explanation: I know I said I was going to lay off of linebacker, at least in the early rounds, but this is a true value pick. Considering some are mocking him as high as the third round, it seemed like the value was too good to pass up on here. Snowden stands at an imposing 6-6, meaning there is some room to grow into his 240-pound frame. He shows some NFL-level explosion as a pass rusher, assuming the new Eagles’ strength staff won’t follow the pattern of the previous one and leave players with season-ending and career-altering torn triceps and biceps muscles.
Round 5 (Pick 175) Camryn Bynum, CB, California
Explanation: Yes, another corner. And he won’t be the last. The reality is that most safeties around the league were college corners anyway (just like second basemen in the majors were shortstops at the lower levels). Bynum is a high-character player who was a two-time team captain and started 48 straight games (with 28 passes defended and 6 interceptions). He also has good corner size (6-0, 200) but his timed speed (4.55) may see him end up at safety. Think Jalen Mills — without the green hair.
Round 6 (Pick 189) Thomas Graham, CB, Oregon
Explanation: Graham is another excellent value pick, as this productive four-year starter is often mocked as high as the late third or early fourth round. What makes him different from the plethora of other corners selected here? At 5-10 (195 pounds) with 4.5 speed, he is likely to be relegated to the slot at the next level, even though he played outside for the Ducks. If not, he would require safety help over the top (unless he also gets a look at safety).
Round 6 (Pick 203) Avery Williams, CB, Boise State
Explanation: Another corner? Really? Well, not exactly. Williams need not take a snap in the secondary, at least for now. At 5-9 and in the range of 190 pounds, he has the build of running back and those skills show up in the return game, where he is one of the best – if not the best – in the whole draft class. And, Williams brings back both kicks and punts with equal acumen (some do one but not the other). While I may have overdone it here in this mock at corner out of disgust with the current depth chart and a dire need to create real competition (not just for starting jobs, but for roster spots), this pick is primarily to bolster what has been a DOA return game for far too long.
Round 6 (Pick 224) Chris Rumph II, Edge/OLB, Duke
Explanation: In about 90 percent of the mocks I do, this guy follows me home like a lost puppy. He had a sound college career (17.5 sacks, including 8 in 11 games last season) for the Blue Devils. Rumph doesn’t seem to have a set position, though. With his size (6-3, 235), Rumph is not hefty enough for defensive end and his speed (4.75), while quite good for a defensive end, is marginal for an outside linebacker. The guess here is that he is bulked a bit and turned into a pass-rushing specialist, which may take some time and patience. That would have to be case here in Philly, where a 4-3 defense is deployed.
Summary: Again, if you read this far, I picked up yet another first-round pick in 2022 and then traded back for extra picks (mostly on Day 3) and loaded up on the secondary after getting more immediate help there in the first two rounds. We also got some Swiss Army knife types for the offense (Gainwell, Atwell, Johnson), a center of the future (Hill), project QB (Newman), an interior defensive lineman who can help now and start later (Togiai) and a linebacker with upside (Snowden). My only regret is not adding an edge rusher sooner than the last pick (Rumph). Like my first mock, it’s not the sexiest haul (unless you get one of the top receivers, or Pitts, it won’t be), but having the discipline to trade back plugged more hole. Having 11 picks should do it, but the sad truth is that more were needed.