Andrew Kulp

2020 NFL mock draft: Eagles fill a glaring need in this 1st round mock

2020 NFL mock draft: Eagles fill a glaring need in this 1st round mock

There's still one college football game remaining, and the NFL draft order isn't even set. Yet, with the offseason already a week old for the Eagles, it's not too early to look ahead.

In Version 1.0 of our first-round mock, we're taking a close look not only at team needs, but also the tendencies of their front offices. And while we're not formally projecting any trades, we identify a spot in the top five that's worth watching.

Of course, we have the Eagles' pick — currently scheduled for No. 21 — though with the combine and free agency still ahead, this is more a rough approximation than it is a prediction.

1. Cincinnati Bengals
QB Joe Burrow, LSU

They'll listen to offers, and EDGE Chase Young is a consideration here as well, but passing on Burrow would be a huge mistake after he produced possibly the greatest season by a college quarterback ever with a 77.6 completion percentage, 5,208 yards, 55 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions.

2. Washington
DE Chase Young, Ohio State

Not only is Young arguably the best prospect in the draft at 6-foot-5, 265 pounds and coming off a 17-sack season. He also fills a need with Washington switching to a 4-3 defense and EDGE Ryan Kerrigan turning 32 in the final year of his contract.

3. Detroit Lions
DL Derrick Brown, Auburn

A case can be made for CB Jeff Okudah here, as Darius Slay's future with the team is up in the air. However, GM Bob Quinn has a history of prioritizing D-linemen, and Detroit's pass rush was abysmal in 2019 — second only to Miami for fewest sacks. 6-foot-5, 318 pounds, Brown can wreak havoc up the middle, but possesses the athleticism to attack the edge as well.

4. New York Giants
LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson

Wouldn't be surprised to see an offensive tackle creep up here given the premium on the position and Giants' investment in QB Daniel Jones. GM Dave Gettleman often gravitates to physical specimens though, and Simmons' freakish athleticism — 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, 4.4 speed — would benefit the league's 30th-ranked scoring defense, whether he ultimately plays linebacker or safety. This might be a prime trade-down spot too, because...

5. Miami Dolphins
QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

This sets up nicely for the Dolphins, provided nobody jumps ahead of them. If QB Ryan Fitzpatrick returns — he's under contract for another year — there's no pressure to rush Tagovailoa's recovery from a hip injury. And should another team trade up, Justin Herbert is still on the board. No matter what, Miami gets its franchise quarterback.

6. Los Angeles Chargers
OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia

Early indications are Philip Rivers could be back under center in 2020. If not, a veteran replacement seems plausible, as there's a good enough core already in place to return to the playoffs next season. Either way, the Chargers need to protect their quarterback better, so the top offensive lineman on the board is their man.

7. Carolina Panthers
QB Justin Herbert, Oregon

Cam Newton's health is a legit concern right now, yet David Tepper's unwillingness to commit to the former league MVP is notable. New owners often like to put their stamp on the franchise early, and with a new coaching staff in place, a new signal-caller is the logical next step — and Herbert's big arm would complement the Panthers' existing skill players nicely.

8. Arizona Cardinals
WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma

What incredibly good fortune the Cardinals have their pick of wide receivers at this stage of the draft. Second-year QB Kyler Murray needs a reliable weapon on the outside. Lamb can handle the volume, finishing his three-year college career with 173 catches, 3,292 yards and 35 touchdowns, not to mention he's a perfect fit for HC Kliff Kingsbury's system. 

9. Jacksonville Jaguars
CB Jeff Okudah, Ohio State

This roster has so many holes, it's difficult to identify the biggest. It probably isn't cornerback, either, but Okudah is the best player remaining here — perhaps even a steal at No. 9 — with the added bonus the Jaguars effectively get to undo the Jalen Ramsey trade. Fortunately, they have another first-round pick, too.

10. Cleveland Browns
OT Jedrick Wills, Alabama

The Browns hired a new coach and GM, but regardless of regime, protecting QB Baker Mayfield will be paramount. Since it's Andrew Berry from the Eagles front office reportedly running the front office along with an offensive coach, you can bank on bolstering the O-line being the first order of business.

11. New York Jets
WR Tee Higgins, Clemson

The NFL's worst offense needs playmakers, so receiver is a no-brainer here. Tiggins is 6-foot-4, 215 pounds — a build GM Joe Douglas seems to prefer — and posted 115 receptions, 2,051 yards and 25 touchdowns over the last two seasons.

12. Las Vegas Raiders
WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama

Longtime owner Al Davis may be gone, but his old saying "speed kills" lives on in this pick. The Raiders need receivers, and Ruggs runs in the 4.2s. He could flourish in coach Jon Gruden's offense, as venerable deep threat Joey Galloway did with the Buccaneers in the 2000s.

13. Indianapolis Colts
DL Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina

For better or worse, the Colts appear to be stuck with QB Jacoby Brissett for the time being. No sense investing in receivers then. Instead, assembling a great defense is the focus, and plugging the 6-foot-6, 310-pound Kinlaw in the middle would reap immediate benefits.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
S Grant Delpit, LSU

LB Devin White was such a hit in 2019, the Bucs decide go right back to the LSU well. Tampa's defense is young and improving, but ranked 30th against the pass. Delpit brings a big body (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) and versatility to the secondary.

15. Denver Broncos
WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama

After winning four of five to start his career, there will be a lot of pressure on QB Drew Lock to cement himself as the franchise quarterback in Denver. GM John Elway can give him some help, especially if Jeudy — arguably the best receiver in the class — somehow slides this far.

16. Atlanta Falcons
DE A.J. Epenesa, Iowa

GM Thomas Dimitroff and HC Dan Quinn bought themselves another year with a stellar finish, but it's only a stay of execution if they don't improve the defense, particularly a pass rush that tied for the second-fewest sacks in the league. The 6-foot-6, 280-pound Epensea registered double digits the last two seasons.

17. Dallas Cowboys
CB C.J. Henderson, Florida

The Cowboys have so many key free agents, it's impossible to say what their needs will be come April. Owner Jerry Jones likes to make a splash though, and Henderson's long arms and 4.3 speed not only project well at the next level, but the pick will make headlines, too.

18. Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh)
OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa

After getting their quarterback at No. 5, it's time to protect him. The Dolphins use the pick they got from the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade to upgrade one of the worst offensive lines in football with Wirfs, who's ready to start from Day 1. And Miami still has one selection left.

19. Las Vegas Raiders (via Chicago)
CB Kristian Fulton, LSU

A former DB himself, this is where GM Mike Mayock's presence is felt. Fulton is somebody a defensive coordinator can man up on the opposition's best receiver and forget about him. If he lasts this long, the Raiders' pick should be in within three minutes of being on the clock. The pick, by the way, comes from the Khalil Mack swap.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LA Rams)
DE Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State

The Jaguars continue going about writing the wrongs of the Tom Coughlin era, this time using the pick from the Ramsey trade. After wasting Dante Fowler and potentially running off free agent-to-be Yannick Ngakoue, Gross-Matos is another impressive physical specimen (6-foot-6, 264 pounds, 4.4 speed) for the revolving door at end.

21. Philadelphia Eagles
WR Laviska Shenault, Jr., Colorado

Cornerback is certainly on the radar here should Henderson or Fulton drop, or if Paulson Adebo rises. But receiver is obviously a need too, and Shenault can do it all. He's a big, strong target at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds with impressive hands, yet athletic, capable of gaining yards after the catch and lining up outside, in the slot or pretty much anywhere in the formation. And with receivers going quickly, the Eagles may not want to wait for Round 2.

22. Buffalo Bills
DE Curtis Weaver, Boise State

23. New England Patriots
S Xavier McKinney, Alabama

24. New Orleans Saints
CB Trevon Diggs, Alabama

25. Minnesota Vikings
DT Raekwon Davis, Alabama

26. Miami Dolphins (via Houston)
RB D'Andre Swift, Georgia

27. Seattle Seahawks
DT Marvin Wilson, Florida State

28. Baltimore Ravens
LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma

29. Tennessee Titans
OLB K'Lavon Chaisson, LSU

30. Green Bay Packers
WR K.J. Hamler, Penn State

31. Kansas City Chiefs
RB J.K. Robbins, Ohio State

32. San Francisco 49ers
CB Paulson Adebo, Stanford

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Brandon Brooks shares optimistic timeline for 2020 return

Brandon Brooks shares optimistic timeline for 2020 return

After suffering a season-ending injury for the second year in a row, Eagles right guard Brandon Brooks was once again optimistic he’ll be ready for Week 1 — if not much sooner.

Brooks is scheduled to undergo surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder on Thursday, and the three-time Pro Bowler put his timetable for return around summertime, possibly even “toward the end of OTAs.”

“For a couple days, it was like, ‘Damn, another injury, another rehab,’” said Brooks a day after the Eagles were eliminated from the playoffs. “But in the grand scheme of things, I had an Achilles that was much worse, and people were telling me I wasn’t going to come back and do what I did with an Achilles."

“If I had to come back every offseason, if I had the same year I had this past year, I would do it.”

The timing of Brooks’ injury was eerily similar to last season, when he tore his Achilles during the Eagles’ postseason loss to the Saints. This time, he was injured in Week 17.

Brooks explained the dislocated shoulder occurred during a field goal try.

“My arm got bent backwards. When it got bent backwards, it came out of socket and broke the bone at the bottom,” said Brooks, adding doctors could not put it back in place on the field.

The description garnered some sympathetic groans from the throng of reporters huddled around his locker. As bad as it sounded, however, Brooks maintained it’s not as serious as what he went through before.

“I tore my Achilles,” said Brooks. “This is way easier than that. It’s not a big deal.”

Indeed, Brooks’ Achilles injury and the timing so late in the year led many to predict he would miss the start of the 2019 season, if he made it on the field at all.

Already a two-time Pro Bowler, Brooks said at the time the injury only intensified his focus and proclaimed all along he would be in uniform and starting at right guard for the Eagles Week 1. He not only achieved his goal, but arguably played better than any offensive lineman in the NFL this season.

While missing the Eagles’ playoff game was tough for Brooks, he knows what it takes to regain an elite form.

“Injury, surgery, rehab, recovery,” said Brooks. “The timetable is a lot shorter, but for the first two or three months, it’ll be about the same.”

The shoulder is perhaps a tad more significant than Brooks is letting on. The surgery must fix both the bone and additional damage caused by the dislocation.

“A little piece of bone, basically they’re gonna put it back on, suture, place two sutures in the front and kind of rope it,” said Brooks. “The bone itself will grow back, and the labrum they’ll just repair and rehab in a couple months.”

Perhaps the biggest difference this time around — besides the injury itself, of course — is Brooks won’t face nearly as many doubters about his ability to come back and play at the highest level.

“Obviously, it’s not something that I want,” said Brooks. “But if it drives me the way it did last season, it’s not all bad.”

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Malcolm Jenkins makes clear he needs a new contract

Malcolm Jenkins makes clear he needs a new contract

Less than 24 hours after the Eagles’ season came to an end, safety Malcolm Jenkins made it perfectly clear he will not be back with the team in 2020 unless his contract is addressed.

“I won’t be back on the same deal,” Jenkins said in front of his locker on Monday. “That won’t happen.”

Jenkins has one year remaining on his current contract, but already approached the club about an extension last spring. The three-time Pro Bowler skipped voluntary spring workouts with the team before showing up for mandatory minicamp, vowing to focus on the season at hand.

He was all business, as usual, playing all 1,098 of the Eagles’ defensive snaps – plus special teams. Jenkins’ ironman streak extends to the 2017 playoffs, and he’s seldom come off the field since signing with the team in 2014.

“I’ve reached a point where I’ve done what I can,” said Jenkins. “At this point it’s up to my agent and management.

“I let my soul bleed every time I touch the field, sacrifice myself, do whatever I’m asked to do, so I’m content with doing my part. The rest will fall where it does.”

Jenkins is currently owed a base salary of $7.6 million in 2020. With over $3 in remaining prorated bonus money, plus per-game incentives worth an additional $250,000, his cap hit rises to over $10.8 million.

Seven NFL safeties currently carry a higher cap hit for 2020. Eight are owed a larger base salary. And of those players, only one other is entering the final year of his deal.

“You set your value on the market,” said Jenkins. “The market’s good for safeties right now. I consider myself to be in the top tier of that group and I’d like to be compensated for it.”

While Jenkins wants to be paid like one of the top safeties in the NFL and have the security of a multi-year deal, he acknowledged there’s a balance between making as much money as possible and being in the right situation.

“I want to be valued, I want to be compensated for what I think I’m worth, but I want to win, I want to be in a good locker room,” said Jenkins. “I’m a prideful person who enjoys to compete and win, but I’m not a dummy either.

“At this point in my career, I weigh all those things before I make any decision.”

It’s unclear how Jenkins intends to force the Eagles’ hand, though he made it sound as though a holdout is potentially on the table. If he refuses to rejoin the team and the front office is unwilling to reach an extension, it’s possible he could be traded as well.

“Something will happen,” Jenkins said. “I don’t know what it will be. Obviously there’s a lot of different ways it could go.

“All the things are kind of open, but at this point I feel like I’ve put together a good season. I’ve done everything I could to try to prove my worth and hopefully that works out.”

The problem, as the Eagles may see it, is Jenkins turned 32 in December. While he had another fine year, finishing with 90 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 8 pass breakups and 4 forced fumbles, naturally there’s concern his abilities are on the decline.

Jenkins admits he’s always pondering his future, but has managed to stay relatively healthy and doesn’t sound like somebody who’s close to retirement.

“I just finished 11 (seasons),” said Jenkins. “I told myself I would make it to 10 and go year to year after that as long as my body felt good, the money was what I wanted and the team was a team that I enjoyed being on.

“I’ll play for as long as I can, and right now I’m physically able, I still love the game. I’d love to be here, but I understand this is a business, so I’m good right now.”

The Eagles must also manage nostalgia while gauging whether Jenkins can viably live up to a new contract for the next few years. After the 2008 season, the organization left Hall of Fame safety Brian Dawkins leave as a free agent to Denver, where he played at a high level for another three years.

Jenkins isn’t quite in Dawkins territory, but he’s meant a lot to the Eagles the last six seasons. Still, there’s no sense that owner Jeffrey Lurie is pushing for a deal that allows him to retire with the team.

“Usually you don’t talk to ownership about contracts,” said Jenkins. “I have a great relationship with Mr. Lurie, but no, me and him personally haven’t talked about any contract since the spring.”

The two sides enter the offseason at an impasse but Jenkins is confident somebody in the league will see his true value.

“I’m not one to beg and I’m a very prideful person, so I feel like what I put out there this year, what I put on tape, what I’ve given to this team is more than enough,” said Jenkins. “I can’t do anymore, so for me, I feel good about that, that that will be good enough for me to go into this offseason with certainty that I’ll be fine.”

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