Anything NBA or NFL? Sam is your man!
Anything NBA or NFL? Sam is your man!
The Philadelphia Eagles suffered an unceremonious collapse last season that saw the Super Bowl LII victors finish last in the historically bad NFC East with a 4-11-1 record. Early in the offseason, general manager Howie Roseman and team owner Jeffrey Lurie moved on from head coach Doug Pederson and franchise quarterback Carson Wentz.
New coach Nick Sirianni takes over a team in turmoil and faces arguably the most challenging task in the NFL: pleasing Philadelphia’s fanbase on draft day.
The Eagles have no chance of competing for a division title in 2021. Sirianni’s roster features a mix of aging Pro Bowlers battling injuries and youthful projects that haven’t made their mark on the NFL yet. The draft can’t balance such a poorly constructed roster, but it can provide hope for the future. That’s what the Eagles are fighting for this year; the future.
I used The Draft Network’s mock draft machine and Pro Football Focus’ mock draft simulator to justify each of my selections. At least one website had the chosen players available at their listed picks over several simulations. I didn’t create any trades and included an “ideal pick” after every selection for optimistic fans.
In the simulations I ran, Horn consistently went in the top-ten picks for TDN but remained on the board at 12 for PFF. DeVonta Smith was the only member of the top-four pass catchers remaining for TDN, while Kyle Pitts slipped outside of the top-ten for PFF. It makes sense when you remember PFF’s simulation accounts for positional value.
The Eagles should focus on fortifying their defense if the choice comes down to Horn and Smith. While the reigning Heisman Trophy winner had a fantastic 2020 season and an overlooked 2019 campaign, there are plenty of other talented receivers available later in the draft. The cornerback market dries up much quicker.
Philadelphia bought in on Darius Slay last year, but the former All-Pro only earned a 62.9 grade from PFF. Pairing Horn with Slay gives the Eagles a secondary option if the veteran never returns to form. This scenario works out even better if Slay gets back to All-Pro status.
Horn gets overaggressive in coverage, which leads to penalties, and he doesn’t play a role in run support. However, the former Gamecock has elite agility, explosiveness, length, size, and speed that make him a projectable star in all forms of coverage.
The “other” receiver behind Chase and Justin Jefferson, Marshall shot up draft boards after hauling in 48 passes for 731 yards and ten touchdowns in seven appearances last season. The latest star LSU receiver continued improving his stock with an impressive pro day performance. Marshall ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds despite weighing 205 lbs. at 6-3.
Marshall is only 20 years old, but he has the speed and release to beat cornerbacks early in his routes. He played outside and in the slot for LSU, which gives the Eagles their choice of where to line him up alongside Jalen Reagor. While he dropped several catchable passes in 2020, Marshall usually used his extraordinary catch radius to bail out quarterbacks.
Ideal pick: Landon Dickerson, IOL Alabama
Behind Werner’s unspectacular athletic profile and mediocre production is a solid Day 2 prospect capable of handling various assignments. He’s an every-down linebacker that sheds blocks in the running game and matches up with tight ends in coverage. Werner played every linebacker position at Ohio St. and was a significant contributor for three years.
Even after adding Eric Wilson, the Eagles don’t have much depth or talent at linebacker. Werner gives Philadelphia an agile linebacker that should thrive wherever he lines up.
Ideal pick: Jabril Cox, LB LSU
The Eagles still haven’t decided on Zach Ertz’s future. The 30-year-old is coming off his worst season as a pro, and the rumor mill had him as a likely trade candidate earlier this offseason. If Ertz’s time in Philadelphia is coming to an end, Long could step in immediately and see snaps behind Dallas Goedert.
Long isn’t a spectacular athlete or playmaker by any stretch of the imagination, but he did everything at Boston College. The 6-5, 253 lb. tight end produced while getting a high volume of targets per game. He displayed natural hands and enough athleticism to threaten defenses deep. Long also showed sound blocking fundamentals and enough speed to create separation.
Ideal pick: Paulson Adebo, CB Stanford
While I don’t view Green as a premier prospect in this year’s draft, he has some tremendous tape. Very few players are more fun to watch. Green was a three-year starter at Illinois, where he steadily improved each season. He saw snaps at guard and center, and he could fill either role in the NFL after a little time spent refining his technique.
Green’s explosiveness jumps out immediately when watching the Fighting Illini. He fires off the line of scrimmage and drives through defenders. Green does a great job getting into space, but he fails to capitalize and often misses on targets at the second level. He’s a much better run blocker than pass blocker right now.
Ideal pick: Walker Little, OT Stanford
Wiggins planted his flag in the college football landscape in 2018 when he intercepted four passes. Unfortunately, he suffered a torn ACL in 2019 and still looked uneasy this past season. The Eagles should check his medicals before investing a top-150 pick into the versatile safety.
Quick transitions gave Wiggins some issues in college, and he doesn’t have great deep speed. However, he’s phenomenal coming downhill against the run or on short passing plays. Wiggins explodes into ball carriers and has enough range to sit back in split coverages. He spent a lot of time in the slot for Cincinnati, but I think he’ll see fewer of those reps for the Eagles.
Ideal pick: Thomas Graham Jr., CB Oregon
Imatorbhebhe put on a show during his limited drills at Illinois’ pro day. The 6-1, 223 lb. receiver jumped 46.5 inches in the vertical, which ranks in the 100th percentile historically. While that athleticism never translated to elite production for the Fighting Illini, there’s hope Imatorbhebhe can put everything together at the NFL level.
There’s a chance Imatorbhebhe goes undrafted this year because he lacks any sort of refinement. He’s a pure athlete right now trying to play wide receiver. The right coaching can turn players like Imatorbhebhe into weapons, but there’s also a chance he never gets past the special teams unit.
Ideal pick: Chris Evans, RB Michigan
It’s hard not to like Ball from a value perspective in the sixth-round. Although, I always mention that he had an incident of dating violence while at Florida St., which could result in his removal from several draft boards. If we focus solely on his football profile, Ball is 6-7, 308 lbs. with 35-inch arms.
Ball has nimble, fluid footwork that routinely results in beating speed rushers to the top of their attacks. He’s also great working in space and on the move. However, he leans too far forward in pass sets and doesn’t have enough muscle to bang with polished NFL defenders. A year in the weight room could transform Ball into a possible starter.
Ideal pick: Ball
Lenoir is a physical cornerback that produced consistently over his four seasons with the Ducks. In 45 games, he intercepted six passes and swatted away 21. Lenoir played plenty of press coverage at Oregon and battled wide receivers for positioning throughout routes. Unfortunately, that style could draw penalties in the NFL.
Because Lenoir is only 5-10 and doesn’t have standout athletic traits, his best projection in the NFL comes as a slot cornerback.
Ideal pick: Jaelon Darden, WR North. Texas
Terry broke onto the national stage in 2019 by amassing 1,188 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. He’s nearly 6-3 and weighs 207 lbs. The concerns with Terry come from the limited route tree he ran for the Seminoles and his lack of twitch. He takes a long time to stop moving in routes, making it impossible to get separation coming out of cuts.
On the positive side, Terry scored five touchdowns of over 70 yards at FSU. He has legitimate deep speed and a large catch radius. Expect Terry to work on special teams for the Eagles and rotate in as a vertical route runner.
Ideal pick: Nick Eubanks, TE Michigan
Menet earned three years of starting experience with the Nittany Lions. He’s an efficient player with good body control and patience. However, he doesn’t have ideal length or the athleticism to make plays in space at the second level. Menet is on the lighter side at 301 lbs., but that’s more than current Eagles center Jason Kelce weighs.
Kelce’s career is nearing a close. Menet provides the team with a developmental lineman that could become the former All-Pro’s replacement.
Ideal pick: Zach Davidson, TE Central Missouri