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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Why new onside kick alternative would give Eagles an advantage

Why new onside kick alternative would give Eagles an advantage

NFL owners are expected to vote Thursday on an onside kick alternative that would give teams the option to go for a 4th-and-15 from their own 25-yard line to retain possession. 

If this passes, it’ll be good news for the Eagles. 

Because while the rule is reportedly gaining steam among many NFL teams, there’s a reason the Eagles were the team that proposed this rule change. 

It will give them an advantage for two main reasons: 

1. The Eagles have an aggressive-minded head coach willing to buck convention 

During his four years as head coach of the Eagles, Doug Pederson has gone for more 4th-down attempts than any other team. The Eagles have 99 total 4th down attempts in four years; the next closest team has 91. The Eagles have converted on 52.5% of those fourth down conversions. 

And during the four years with Pederson as head coach, the Eagles have also gone for a league-high 28 two-point conversions. Pederson and the Eagles don’t care about conventional wisdom in the NFL; in fact, the organization believes a lot of league-wide thinking is outdated. 

All this aggressiveness from Pederson is a combination of using analytics and pairing them with his gut feel depending on how his offense is performing. 

If the Eagles didn’t think the analytics would tell them to go for an onside kick alternative at times, why would they propose it? 

2. They have a quarterback with the ability to extend plays and make tough throws 

Pederson and Carson Wentz have been together now for four seasons so, first, Pederson should have a perfect understanding of the kinds of plays to use with Wentz in these situations. 

The great thing about Wentz, though, is his ability to create when a play breaks down. To pick up plays of 15-plus yards when the defense knows you need to gain 15 yards isn’t easy. But with a quarterback like Wentz, there are multiple chances on the same play. His ability to scramble and buy time will give his receivers chances to get open down the field. And Wentz then has the arm strength to get the ball to them in a hurry. 

During his career, Wentz has gained first downs on 6 of 50 passing attempts on 3rd or 4th-and-15+, but those situations are different than this hypothetical one. We admittedly don’t have a ton of data to support the idea that he’ll be great in these situations. But use the eye test. He has a skillset that should allow him to make these plays. 

• • • 

There are a few important notes and details about this rule proposal you need to know. These come from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero and they will determine the way teams use this alternative if it passes. 

• Teams can use the alternative onside kick twice in regulation and it doesn’t matter if they’re leading, trailing or tied. 

• But no overtime. You can’t decide to forgo kicking off in OT, trying to keep the ball to win the game. 

• It’s an untimed down but there is a play clock of 25 seconds. 

• If the offense converts, it’s a first down and the drive keeps going. If the defense stops them, they get the ball back at the dead-ball spot. 

• If a penalty occurs during or after a score (let’s say there’s an unsportsmanlike conduct) and it was scheduled to be enforced on the kickoff, it can be enforced on this untimed down. So if there’s an unsportsmanlike penalty, the kicking team could attempt a 4th-and-15 from their own 40-yard line instead of their own 25. 

• If an offensive penalty occurs during the play, the kicking team can’t then change their mind and kick off. So if there’s an offensive holding, it could be 4th-and-25 from their own 15. 

• • •  

We’ll find out soon enough if this proposal and some of the others on the docket pass this week. But in my mind, there’s no reason to prevent this rule from passing other than desire from some teams to keep things status-quo. This rule would be fun. 

And, at least for now, the Eagles would probably be able to use it to their advantage. 

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Dak Prescott’s contract impasse with Cowboys a win-win for Eagles

Dak Prescott’s contract impasse with Cowboys a win-win for Eagles

The Dallas Cowboys are at an impasse with quarterback Dak Prescott. And no matter how things work out for the 26-year-old and two-time Pro Bowler, the Eagles should benefit.

The Eagles’ main division rival slapped the franchise tag on Prescott back in March. If he signs the tag deal, it would pay him $31.4 million for the 2020 season, and leave him free to seek out the highest bidder afterward. Prescott and the Cowboys have been in quiet negotiations since, attempting to hammer out a long-term deal ahead of the July 15 deadline, a deal that will likely make him among the highest-paid players in the game, if not the highest.

Carson Wentz’s contract extension signed with the Eagles last June was a four-year deal worth $128 million, with $66.5 million guaranteed. No matter how you feel about Prescott in relation to Wentz, Prescott will certainly be asking for north of $32 million a year. It’s just the way of the NFL. Just three months after Wentz signed his deal, Rams QB Jared Goff signed a four-year extension worth $134 million, with a whopping $110 million guaranteed.

According to multiple reports, the main sticking point between Prescott and the ‘Boys is the length of the deal. Prescott wants a four-year contract like the one signed by Wentz. The Cowboys want to lock him up for five years. If Prescott does sign a five-year contract with Dallas, you can expect the value of that fifth year to be substantial – in upwards of $42-45 million. In addition, the guaranteed money in his deal, if he agrees to five years, will certainly be north of $100 million, and could approach, if not exceed, Goff’s record guarantee.

I certainly believe the Cowboys and Prescott will work something out. Probably a four-year deal worth somewhere between $37-40 million per season and with guaranteed money right around the $110 million included in Goff’s deal.

You can see how a contract like this could limit a team from a salary cap standpoint. The Cowboys will pay WR Amari Cooper $22 million a year from 2021-2024. Running back Ezekiel Elliott’s 2021 cap hit is $13.7 million, and $16.5 million in 2022. If Prescott were to sign a contract worth, say, $38 million a season, Dallas will be committing more than one-third of its cap space to their “Triplets.”

So, there are two possible scenarios that exist for the Cowboys: A. They sign him to a long-term deal and go cheap on defense/tight end for the next few seasons, or B. They don’t sign him, he walks after the 2020 season, and Dallas has to start their franchise QB search all over again. 

Both of those scenarios should leave Eagles fans smiling for years to come.

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