If the NFL season ended today, the Eagles would have picks No. 5, 10 and 15.
It’s time to build through the trenches.
Here’s our latest mock draft:
1. Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
He’s become the early consensus top pick in this year’s draft. The Lions need help pretty much everywhere, but they continue to build in the trenches. Thibodeaux joins former Oregon teammate and Lions 2021 first-rounder Penei Sewell in the Motor City.
2. Texans: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
DeShaun Watson figures to be on the move one way or another, so the Texans tab Corral to become the face of the franchise. He had some ball security issues over the weekend against Texas A&M but still led the Rebels to a win against one of the country’s top defenses.
3. Jets: Derek Stingley, Jr., CB, LSU
They don’t hand out the No. 7 jersey to just anyone in Baton Rouge. Stingley is the latest in a long line of elite defensive backs at LSU. While, he hasn’t played since September 18 due to a foot injury, he still figures to be a top-5 pick. The Jets have a grand total of two interceptions this season and could use a playmaker in the secondary.
4. Jaguars: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Urban Meyer would love to get his hands all over a sexier pick, but there just isn’t that type of talent at the top of this draft. He opts for a dance partner who is a flat-out grinder and can protect Trevor Lawrence’s blindside for the next decade.
5. Eagles: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
A familiar tale as the Eagles pass on an elite safety prospect for an edge rusher from Michigan. Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton plays the part of Earl Thomas to Hutchinson’s Brandon Graham in a move that is sure to not sit well with the fan base initially. I believe it will pay off in the long run, though. The organization isn’t going to change their philosophy overnight, and it’s been proven right over the years: Build your team from the inside out. Defensive end is certainly a position of need for the Eagles. Derek Barnett is set to become a free agent and Graham will be 34 and coming off a torn Achilles.
Plus, Hutchinson is an absolute game-wrecker. Just ask James Franklin and Penn State. The senior racked up three sacks and forced a fumble against the Nittany Lions on Saturday. He’s drawn comparisons to former Falcons Pro Bowler Patrick Kerney, who racked up 82.5 career sacks, including four seasons with double-digits. I think Hutchinson will be even better. He has a relentless, Watt-like motor, plus the frame, power, and speed to make him a perennial All-Pro.
6. Giants: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
For the sake of everyone else, I hope Dave Gettleman is still making the calls for the G-Men, but regardless, Hamilton is the best player on the board at this point and should be the pick. A do-it-all safety, he’s been sidelined with a knee injury. There’s been some speculation that he’s sitting out to protect his draft stock, but Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly said last week that Hamilton has yet to be cleared by team doctors. Even if he doesn’t suit up again for the Irish, he’s shown enough to be picked this high, if not higher.
7. Jets (via Seahawks): Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
By the time the April rolls around I anticipate Davis ends up as a top-10 pick. He’s a massive dude at 6-4, 340 pounds and anchors the best team in the country. Joe Douglas got some help on the back end with Stingley, now he gets a people mover up front.
8. Giants (via Bears): Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M
While there’s talk that the Eagles will control the draft with their three first round picks, the Jets and Giants both have a pair of top-10 selections in hand. I could see Big Blue being major players for any available quarterback in the trade market should Daniel Jones fail to make in-roads the rest of the season. Barring that kind of franchise-changing move, they need help up front. Green is versatile, having played just about every position along the O-Line and would be a day 1 starter.
9. Washington: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt
Howie Roseman was part of a large contingent of scouts and GMs that had a bird’s eye view of Pickett’s performance in an overtime win against North Carolina last Thursday. A fifth-year senior, Pickett will turn 24 before playing in an NFL game, but he’s got poise in the pocket and elite ball placement. With the weapons already in place for the Football Team, Pickett finally gives them a franchise QB.
10. Eagles: DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M
Once again, Howie Roseman stays true to his philosophy in the trenches. With Fletcher Cox’s tenure as an Eagle getting closer to an end, the Eagles snag a defensive lineman from the SEC to take his place. Much like Cox, Leal plays with violent hands, and can disrupt the pocket from the interior. He also offers the versatility of being able to line up on the outside on early downs then shift inside on passing downs.
At 6-4, 290 pounds, he’s an explosive athlete for a lineman who should be able to add on weight without sacrificing anything. A former 5-star recruit, Leal is the centerpiece of the Aggie’s elite defense. The junior has been a starter since his freshman year and has racked up 6.5 sacks so far in 2022. Leal and Hutchinson join Josh Sweat and Javon Hargrave to give the Eagles the makings of a special defensive front for years to come.
11. Dolphins (via 49ers): Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Miami seems destined to trade this pick as part of a deal for DeShaun Watson, but for now, I’ll give them another QB with massive upside in Willis. He’s got elite talent that hasn’t been totally showcased at Liberty. Get him in an NFL offense built to his strengths and he could be electric.
12. Falcons: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
If Atlanta wasn’t going to take a quarterback while picking fourth last year, I don’t see them reaching for one here, especially with Corral, Pickett and Willis already off the board. So instead of drafting Matt Ryan’s replacement, they double down and get him another weapon. Top wideout Calvin Ridley has stepped away from the team to better his mental health. If he returns to join Olave and Kyle Pitts, the Falcons will have an elite set of playmakers.
13. Vikings: George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue
After watching their defense deteriorate in 2020, the Vikings brought back Everson Griffen to bolster the pass rush, and it has paid dividends. But he’s 33 years old and they’re in need of long-term answers along the defensive line. Enter Karlaftis.
14. Broncos: Carson Strong, QB, Nevada
The John Elway influence won’t die! The Broncos draft yet another big-bodied quarterback who hopefully won’t bust out like Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch. I like Strong best among the 2022 class of signal callers. He’s fourth in the country in passing yards and has thrown 28 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions. In his three seasons as the starter for the Wolfpack his TD-to-INT ratio is 66-18.
15. Eagles: Tyler Linderbaum, OL, Iowa
I highly doubt Howie Roseman uses all three picks without making any trades. Barring a blockbuster, I’d anticipate at least one move down to build up future draft capital. But if he stands pat, I would not be surprised to see all three used in the trenches. While Jason Kelce is putting another All-Pro-caliber season on his Hall of Fame resume, he’s seriously contemplated retirement after each of the past two seasons. Even if he comes back, you need a long-term replacement. Perhaps they still plan to move Landon Dickerson to center, but he’s been a mauler playing at left guard this season and as we’ve seen before, plans change. Lane Johnson was drafted to eventually slide over to left tackle and replace Jason Peters but he’s still on the right side nine season later.
Linderbaum is another undersized center who possesses rare speed an athleticism for an interior offensive lineman, much like Kelce. In fact, both are listed at 6-3, 290. Linderbaum started his career playing defensive line for the Hawkeyes before moving to center as a sophomore. Now as a junior, he’s a front-runner for the Remington trophy, awarded to the nation’s top interior offensive lineman.
In all, the Eagles walk away with Hutchinson, Leal, and Linderbaum. They might be considered “safe” picks but they all have very high ceilings. Three foundational pieces on which to build a dominant team, much like Graham, Cox, and Kelce once were.
16. Browns: Drake London, WR, USC
With Odell Beckham, Jr.’s departure, the Browns have a void at receiver. They also have a question mark at quarterback, with Baker Mayfield’s rookie deal set to expire after this season. It seems likely they simply pick up his 5th year option without adding on a long-term extension, so getting him some weapons for that prove-it year would be a smart play.
17. Bengals: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Last year the debate was whether the Bengals should get Joe Burrow some protection (Penei Sewell) or a weapon (Ja’Marr Chase). I’d say pairing the QB with his former LSU teammate has worked out okay thus far. This time around they opt for protection.
18. Raiders: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
The Raiders recent run of first round picks in the Mike Mayock era has been a disaster for a litany of reasons. 2019 first rounder Clelin Ferrell is no longer a starter and Josh Jacobs is down to a time-share with Kenyan Drake. Both 2020 first rounders, Henry Ruggs and Damon Arnette, were released within the past month for well-documented off-field issues. Last April’s first rounder, Alex Leatherwood, has struggled so much at tackle they moved him to guard. Dean at least seems like a safe bet to give them some return on investment.
19. Panthers: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Another team that will be active on the quarterback acquisition front. The Panthers failed to land Matthew Stafford last offseason and ended up with Sam Darnold. Suffice it to say that hasn’t worked out. While Cam Newton’s return is a great story, he’s probably not the long-term answer in his second go round in Charlotte. Without great options, Carolina at least bolsters the protection for whoever they eventually find to play under center.
20. Chargers: David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
One of the fastest risers in this year’s crop, Ojabo has been a terror playing opposite Aidan Hutchinson. He didn’t start playing football until his junior year of high school and is going to end up as a first-round pick. Put him on the other side of Joey Bosa and watch them wreak havoc.
21. Saints: Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
Sean Payton got great production out of Jameis Winston before he tore his ACL. Based on the QB’s recovery timeline and pending free agency, it’s likely they’ll be looking in another direction at the position come next season. While Ridder hasn’t put up the numbers many expected, he still has the Bearcats on the cusp of an appearance in the College Football Playoff.
22. Patriots: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
The Patriots have tried and failed miserably to find receivers in the draft under Bill Belichick. Dotson is an electric playmaker that can help Mac Jones take his game to another level. He’s already registered 80 catches for nearly 1,000 yards and 9 touchdowns this season for the Nittany Lions.
23. Chiefs: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
The track record of Florida corners taken early has been ugly of late. C.J. Henderson, Duke Dawson, Quincy Wilson, Teez Tabor, and Vernon Hargreaves were all selected in the first or second round since 2017. None of them are still with the team that drafted them and have all failed to make any impact in the NFL. Elam should prove good enough to break that mold.
24. Buccaneers: Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
The Super Bowl champs returned everyone from a season ago and could still make a run at another ring. But they’ve been banged up in the secondary and overall could use some help there. McCreary has 6 career picks for Auburn. Fun fact: his uncle, Angelo James, played corner for the Eagles back in 1987.
25. Steelers: Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
The Steelers tend not to overthink these things. They take big-time players from big-time schools. The last time they used a first-round pick on a player who didn’t play in a power five conference was 2004 when they took Ben Roethlisberger out of Miami (Ohio). They’ve been missing that edge rusher opposite T.J. Watt since Bud Dupree left in free agency. Walker fits the bill.
26. Ravens: Ikem Ekwonu, OL, North Carolina State
Just two seasons ago the Ravens had perhaps the best offensive line in football with Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown on the outside, and Marshall Yanda on the interior. Yanda retired, Brown forced his way out and is now a Chief and Stanley is on IR for a 2nd straight year. They need to invest in protection for Lamar Jackson.
27. Lions (via Rams): Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
The first of three first-round picks coming the Lions way from the Matthew Stafford trade gets used on Lloyd, who has 85 tackles, 6 sacks, 3 interceptions and a forced fumble this season. He’s a flat-out playmaker.
28. Cowboys: Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State
Tyron Smith finally hit 30 years-old and it might be time to start shopping for a replacement. While he’s still a top talent when he’s on the field, he hasn’t played a full 16 games in six years. He’s missed a total of 27 games in that span, including Sunday’s win over the Falcons. Despite his relatively young age, Smith is in year 11 in the NFL and who knows how many more he has left.
29. Bills: Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State
I’m not a huge fan of spending first rounders on a running back, but I think the Bills offense could go to an even higher level with an elite rusher. Zach Moss and Devin Singletary are fine players, but Walker is a stud. He’s firmly in the Heiman mix with nearly 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns. When you have a Super Bowl window, sometimes it’s worth it to spend on a luxury.
30. Cardinals: Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
Arizona has invested heavily in its pass rush. Chandler Jones is still an absolute wrecking ball, but he’ll be 32 by draft time. JJ Watt is already out for the season and will have played single-digit games in four of the last six seasons. They need some youth at the position.
31. Titans: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
The Julio Jones acquisition simply hasn’t worked our as planned. The Titans traded for the future Hall of Famer thinking he would fill in nicely opposite A.J. Brown and alleviate some pressure off Derrick Henry. But Jones has been in and out of the lineup and just landed on IR. Wilson can take his place and give them another game-breaker.
32. Packers: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
The Packers have been immune to drafting receivers in the first round with Aaron Rodgers at the helm. It would only be fitting if they broke protocol and finally gave the position a shot in the arm with Rodgers’ exit seeming likely following this season.
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