By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE – One of my favorite historical sayings: Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.
It may be more of a legendary myth – or a mythical legend – from the American Revolution, with scholars still debating over who commanded it … if it was ever actually commanded at all.
As the story goes, it was meant to save our gunpowder against the better stocked forces of the British Empire during a battle on Bunker Hill.
True or not, it has its place in our common vernacular, in terms of waiting until the last time – even if it seems up against deadline – to pull the trigger.
That’s what we are doing here, with one more into the breach with a Mock Draft.
Round 1 (Pick 12): Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Explanation: An alpha receiver, like LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, would have been ideal at pick No. 6. After GM Howie Roseman traded out of the spot for additional draft capital (a first next year). It was clear the focus had shifted to the dire need at cornerback. There are some good ones this year, and the opinion here is that Surtain is the complete, and polished, package. He has size (6-2, 200ish) and runs well enough (4.5 range) and has poise. He is also an excellent tackler for a corner (leading to some thought that, at some point in his career, he could wind up at safety). There is some talk, maybe too much talk, that the Eagles will have to trade up to get Surtain. In this computerized simulation, which only stopped for me to choose for the Eagles, Dallas traded back from 10 to 20 (and Chicago spent the No. 10 pick on Justin Fields) and Surtain was sitting there.
Round 2 (Pick 37): Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Explanation: It could be argued the Eagles didn’t need a linebacker this high, or at all, but Collins brings the size (6-4, 250-260) and athleticism that could relate to Leighton Vander Esch-type impact. When the history of this draft is written, Collins could easily be seen as the crop’s best linebacker.
Round 3 (Pick 70): Payton Turner, DE, Houston
Explanation: A late riser on draft boards, his size (6-6, 270) and athleticism could put him into an immediate Vinny Curry role as a defensive end who can line up inside. This pick will cause “Iggles” fans to breathe fire, but they will say they loved the pick 2-3 years from now.
Round 3 (Pick 84): Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
Explanation: The only debate with this long (6-2) and lean (185 pounds) defender is where he will play – corner or safety. A good problem. There is no debate that he will play, and play well, at the next level.
Round 4 (Pick 123): Caden Sterns, S, Texas
Explanation: A big (6-1, 210) and physical safety who looks for the big hit. He has 28 consecutive starts under his belt. It’s a streak that is likely to end in the NFL, as he will ride the learning curve while hunting heads as a rookie on special teams. Down the road, though, you could expect this head-seeking missile to be a starter.
Round 5 (Pick 150): Cade Johnson, WR, South Dakota State
Explanation: This long for a receiver? Yeah, this long. Johnson could be worth the wait, however, as he showed well at the Senior Bowl, where he put himself on most draft boards. He brings strong hands and skills as a return man.
Round 6 (Pick 189): Trey Hill, C, Georgia
Explanation: You could say that the Eagles could get by without drafting Jason Kelce’s possible heir apparent, especially since he could already be in the building (Luke Juriga, Ross Pierschbacher) or in the person of veteran Isaac Seumalo with Jack Driscoll or Matt Pryor sliding in at guard. Still, at this point of the draft, a mauler like Hill (6-3, 330) presents too much value to pass up. I was surprised to see him still here in this simulation, so I pounced. NOTE: There is some speculation is pick could be dealt to Chicago for slot receiver Anthony Miller. Even though I have no issues with Greg Ward, and even though Miller would be a one-year rental, I’d do it.
Round 6 (Pick 224): Simi Fehoko, WR, Stanford
Explanation: A Stanford receiver who doesn’t get great separation but wins jump balls? Where have we heard that before? Relax. In the sixth round, the risk of another J.J. Arecega-Whiteside (second round in 2019, with D.K. Metcalf on the board) diminishes. Plus, Fehoko plays with much more grit and could be a Mack Hollins-type on special teams. Also, he has the size (6-3, close to 230) to warrant consideration as a hybrid tight end/receiver.
Round 6 (Pick 225): Avery Williams, CB. Boise State
Explanation: Not only do I like this guy as a NFL role player, I love him for the Eagles. He may not be anything more than backup slot corner at a shade under 5-9 and maybe 180 pounds soaking wet, but he might be the best two-way return man (punts and kicks) – outside of Jaylon Waddle – in the draft class. He has also excelled in kick and punt coverage.
Round 7 (Pick 234): Briley Moore, TE, Kansas State
Explanation: Assuming that Zach Ertz is traded away, a tight end will be needed. Like at center, there are some in-house projects, but Moore offers another option. While he lacks ideal size (6-3, maybe 250), he is a reliable receiver. For those old enough to remember, think former Eagle tight end Keith Krepfle, who came from the Midwest (Iowa) and measured in at 6-3, 227.
Round 7 (Pick 240): Mustafa Johnson, DT, Colorado
Explanation: The only thing stopping Johnson from being drafted higher, which he would be in lighter drafts, is his perceived lack of girth for the position. Not only is Johnson 6-0, he is 290 pounds. However, players with a knack of making plays – 12 ½ sacks the last two years — find a way to adjust and remain productive.
Summary: If you notice a theme, it’s heavy on defense. There were points last season where, while calling for defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s head, I told anyone who would listen that I would mind a defense-only draft this year. That was a bit extreme, but only a bit.
Also, unlike my other mocks, there were no trades. There will be trades. Roseman will break out in a rash if he doesn’t maneuver around the board even a little. Also, while Ertz will likely be moved, it’s impossible to project to where for what. The hunch here is that it won’t be for much more than a Day 3 pick – something like Ertz and a sixth for a fourth – but we will just see how that plays out. We can always hold out hope he stays, has a productive year, becomes the franchise’s all-time leading receiver and then leaves in free agency (bringing compensation next year than might be better than what they get in a trade).
Because this was a defense-heavy draft, I was unable to tab a developmental quarterback or another running back. The Eagles just have to roll with Khalil Tate and/or an undrafted guy (i.e. Zac Thomas of Appalachian State) as the third QB and let Elijah Holyfield, the son of Evander Holyfield, fight it out with Jason Huntley and the infamous Adrian Killins – and maybe an undrafted entity (i.e. Caleb Huntley of Ball State; Otis Anderson of Central Florida) for the fourth running back job.
If Ertz is moved for a pick, perhaps it will be used for a quarterback like Kellen Mond (Texas A&M ) or Davis Mills (Stanford) or a running back such as Rhamondre Stevenson (Oklahoma) or Chris Evans (Michigan).