EAGLES

Eagles snag a 1st-round QB in latest mock draft

EAGLES
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When I put together my initial 2022 mock draft four weeks ago, the Eagles were sitting at No. 3, 8 and 9. Three picks in the top 10, and I had them landing some elite talent, all on the defensive side.

Things have changed. A lot.

Since that mock appeared on Nov. 2, the Dolphins are 5-0, the Colts are 4-1 and the Eagles are 3-2, and the Eagles have gone from three projected top-10 picks to none.

The Dolphins’ projected pick has dropped from No. 3 to No. 13, the Colts’ pick has plummeted from No. 8 to No. 17 and the Eagles’ pick has gone from No. 9 to No. 12.

So the Eagles have lost a total of 22 spots in the draft in a month.

At least they know they almost certainly have the Colts’ 1st-round pick. But three picks between 10 and 20 is a far cry from three between one and 10 when you're trying to replenish the roster with elite talent.

How does that affect the Eagles’ projected picks? Let’s take a look!

1. Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan

I’m a believer. After watching Hutchinson train-wreck Ohio State, I’m moving him up into the top spot ahead of Kayvon Thibodeaux. Nothing against Thibodeaux, but Hutchinson looks like the best player in the country. He had 14 ½ tackles for loss and 12 sacks this year, 4th-most in the BCS, but it was the Ohio State game that catapulted him into the No. 1 overall spot and into the Heisman conversation. Hutchinson had 3.0 sacks and seven tackles in Michigan’s 42-27 win over the Buckeyes in Ann Arbor. Hutchinson is going to provide instant pass rush and playmaking ability to whoever drafts him.

 

2. Jaguars: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon

The Jaguars are one of a few teams in the NFL worse than the Eagles at generating pass pressure – they had only 20 sacks through 12 games – and Thibodeaux will come in and change that in a hurry. Thibodeaux has had a big year for the Ducks, with 7.0 sacks, 12 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. Although Hutchinson may have snuck past him on our mock draft, Thibodeaux is still a monster talent with an explosive first step. It’ll be fun watching both these kids because the comparisons are going to be impossible to avoid.

3. Texans: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

The 6-foot-7, 360-pound Neal is an athletic freak. He began his career at guard but now projects as the top tackle in the draft. He helped Mac Jones become a 1st-round pick last year and has been even better this year protecting Bryce Young as part of a Crimson Tide offense averaging 43 points per game. Let’s be honest, the Texans need help everywhere, and they really have no choice but to go best available at No. 3.

4. Jets [from Seattle]: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

Sitting here with two projected top-five picks will allow Joe Douglas to address both sides of the ball with potentially elite players. And if you watched that Eagles-Jets game Sunday you know the Jets have needs across the board. Stingley can come right in and help fix a pass defense ranked 29th in the league, allowing 263 yards per game, and last in the NFL with just four interceptions. The best corner in a very good cornerback draft, and he brings the kind of swagger and attitude the hapless Jets desperately need.

5. Jets: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State

After locking up Stingley, Joe Douglas addresses the defensive line and selects Ekwonu, who may lack a bit in consistency but makes up for it with incredible power and a nasty edge. Ekwonu could project as a guard in the NFL but will be a plug-and-play starter somewhere for whoever picks him. The Jets have taken an offensive lineman in the 1stround in each of the last two years, but Douglas – who played offensive line at Richmond – definitely subscribes to the Andy Reid School of Drafting and won’t hesitate to go o-line for a third straight year. The Jets certainly need it.

6. Giants: George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue

The Giants haven’t drafted an edge rusher or defensive end in the first round in 11 years, since Jason Pierre-Paul back in 2010. Azeez Ojulari has 5 ½ sacks this year and is only 21, but edge pressure remains a huge need, and Karlaftis, although he hasn’t put up huge sack numbers in college, projects as a big-time NFL pass rusher with his size, speed and strength trails. Karlaftis has 14 career sacks for Purdue, including 4 ½ this year, as well as 29 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles.

7. Giants [from Chicago]: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

I’ve got the Giants going defense-defense with their two 1st-round picks, and even though they looked like a great defense against the Eagles, they haven’t been against the rest of the league. The Giants are in the bottom 10 in the NFL both against the pass and the run, and they need help across the board. Dean is the best linebacker in college and the best player on a ridiculous Georgia defense that’s allowing less than a touchdown per game. Dean has really broadened his game this year. He’s always been a stout run defender, but he’s got 5.0 sacks this year (he had 1 ½ in his first two years in Athens), 7 ½ tackles for loss (he had 3.0) and two interceptions, the first of his college career. He’d sure look good in an Eagles uniform, but I don’t think that’s happening.

 

8. Falcons: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

Another stud from that peerless Georgia defense, Davis is a massive 6-foot-6, 340-pound interior lineman who’s never going to be a big sack guy but is so powerful and such a force that it’s virtually impossible to run on the Bulldogs, who are allowing just 2.5 yards per carry. Davis does have 10 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks (and a rushing touchdown!) in his career in Athens, but to truly appreciate his talent you have to watch teams try to run the ball on Georgia. It can’t be done. The Falcons are 23rd in the NFL in rush defense this year, allowing 125 yards per game. Davis is a perfect fit for a Falcons defense that needs high-end young talent.

9. Panthers: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

I had the Eagles taking Hamilton at No. 3 in my mock draft in early November, but things have changed, and the way things are going with the Eagles, Dolphins and Colts, Hamilton will be long gone by the time they pick. Imagine a young playmaking safety like Hamilton in a revamped secondary along with Darius Slay, Avonte Maddox and whoever else they find to play corner and safety? Alas. I love Hamilton’s game. He’s so smooth, tough, tackles, covers, rushes. Safeties rarely go in the 1st round, especially this high, but Minkah Fitzpatrick, Jamal Adams and Derwin James all have in the last few years, and they’ve all been 1st-team all-pros. The Panthers could go QB here, but it’s probably a little early. There’s no such thing as a can’t-miss, but Hamilton looks like a future star.

10. Vikings: David Ojabo, Edge, Michigan

Another Michigan pass rusher? Yeah, Ojabo is that good. He might not have the resume or reputation of more famous teammate Aidan Hutchinson, but Ojabo has played his way into the top of the first round with his relentless play. Ojabo is a fascinating story – grew up in Nigeria, moved to Scotland when he was 7, then moved to New Jersey and played football at Blair Academy in Warren County. He didn’t play as a freshman, had one tackle as a sophomore but busted out this fall with 11 sacks and 11 tackles for loss, as well as five forced fumbles, 2nd-most in the BCS. Ojabo and Hutchinson were among just 11 BCS players this year with at least 11 sacks and 11 tackles for loss. This is a strong draft for edge rushers and he makes perfect sense for a Vikings defense ranked 30th in the league this year.

 

11. Saints: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

This draft projects as the fourth in the last six years without a top-10 wide receiver, but Wilson will be close, as will his teammate Chris Olave. Which one is the better prospect? Depends who you ask. Olave has been the more consistent of the two, but Wilson is more prone to show up on a highlight reel with a spectacular catch. Olave is the safer pick coming off three straight big-time seasons. He’s averaged 54 catches for 835 yards and 11 touchdowns over the last three seasons and that sort of resume is huge. But Wilson won’t have to wait long to hear his name called.

12. Eagles: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt

OK, in my first mock I had the Eagles taking three defensive players, and maybe there’s some recency bias at work here because I’m writing the Giants game is Jalen Hurts’ most recent game, but I do now believe the Eagles may go QB with one of these three 1st-round picks. Hurts has done a lot of good things, and he’s a very impressive kid. But when the Quarterback Factory asks itself whether he can be a Super Bowl-winning type of quarterback I’m not sure the answer will be yes. I don’t think trading assets for a veteran is the answer, and I have a hunch Pickett is a Howie Roseman kind of guy. Pickett has played himself into the top-10 and the Heisman conversation with his performance this year – 68 percent accuracy, 40 TDs, 7 INTs, over 4,000 yards for the 10-2 Panthers. He’s got good size, he’s smart, he moves well enough to keep plays alive, and he’s clutch. He also grew up in Ocean Township, N.J., which is just a few miles down Rte. 18 from Marlboro, Roseman’s hometown. There are questions about Pickett. He doesn’t have a rocket launcher arm, he’s only had one big-time season and at times he hasn’t dealt well with pressure. But there’s a lot to like, and if the Eagles do decide to go QB in the draft Pickett makes a lot of sense.

13. Eagles [from Miami]: Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn

The No. 2 corner off the board, McCreary would have been a fairly high pick if he came out last year, but he stayed in school and really helped his draft stock with an outstanding senior season for the Tigers. McCreary is a tough, physical corner who likes to mix it up with receivers, both at the line of scrimmage and down the field when he can get away with it. He’ll get his share of DPIs but he’ll more than make up for it with playmaking. Steve Nelson hasn’t been bad, but his contract is up, and you know Roseman would rather build with a young guy on a rookie contract than keep trying to find corners in free agency. The Eagles haven’t drafted a defensive back in the first round since Lito Sheppard in 2002, and Darius Slay and McCreary would give the Eagles a legit 1-2 cornerback punch.

 

14. Broncos: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

The Broncos have been searching for a franchise quarterback since Peyton Manning retired after the 2015 season, but whether it’s Drew Lock, Trevor Siemian, Teddy Bridgewater, Joe Flacco or Case Keenum, the results have been the same. Bad. The last four QBs the Broncos have drafted in the first two rounds – Tim Tebow, Brock Osweiler, Paxton Lynch and Lock - won a combined 23 games in a Broncos uniform. It’s time to try again. Corral is certainly not a lock, but he can make every throw, he’s been a two-year starter at a high level, he’s accurate and he moves around very well and is a threat running the ball.

15. Raiders: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

The second WR off the board after the Ohio State pair, Burks has terrific size at 6-foot-3, 225 yards, and he’s versatile to line up anywhere, even averaging 8.0 yards on 14 runs from scrimmage. Burks has 67-for-1,123 with 11 TDs, and he’s gotten better each year he’s been in Fayetteville. Burks has the size and wingspan to go up and high-point the ball, and he’s aggressive and physical fighting for the football. Blocking is an issue and probably the only thing keeping Burks out of the top half of the first round. But as a receiver, he’s as good as anybody coming out.

16. Browns: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

The run on wide receivers continues with Wilson, who has 70 catches for 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns this year and 143-for-2,213 with 23 TDs in three years in Columbus. Ohio State has really developed into a breeding ground for NFL receivers (Michael Thomas, Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Parris Campbell), and Olave and Wilson look to continue that trend. With Olave off the board, the Browns snag Wilson, keeping him in Ohio. Wilson runs great routes, is fast and athletic and strong to the ball. The Browns desperately need some firepower for Baker Mayfield, and Wilson will help immediately.

17. Eagles [from Colts]: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia

The Eagles need help across the board on a defensive line that’s been a big disappointment this year. Other than Javon Hargrave, everybody on the d-line has underachieved and even though Brandon Graham should be back who knows what to expect from him at 34 years old and coming off an Achilles injury. Clearly Derek Barnett and Ryan Kerrigan won’t be back, and the Eagles need to find a way to generate pass pressure. This Georgia defense is loaded, and Walker is the kind of player the Eagles love because he can line up anywhere inside or outside and he can even drop back in coverage. He’s powerful enough at 6-foot-5, 275 pounds to stuff the run but athletic enough to play on the edge and get after the quarterback. This Eagles defensive line is going to look very different in 2022, and Walker is the sort of elite building block this team needs on the defensive side.

 

18. Steelers: Kenyon Green, OT, Texas A&M

The Steelers are on pace to rank 20th or lower on offense and defense for the first time in franchise history, which is pretty wild, and it helps explain why the Steelers are in danger of suffering their first losing record since 2003. So the Steelers need to go best available, but Kenyon Green is not only the best available player, he’s a guy who will help the Steelers restore their offense next year no matter who the quarterback is. Green is just a big, strong, powerful, athletic lineman who may not be a world-class technician yet but makes up for it with sheer power and strength. The Steelers haven’t drafted an offensive lineman in the first two rounds since 2012, and it’s past time for them to address the o-line.

19. Dolphins [from 49ers]: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

Miami’s improbable resurgence has come with Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback, and Jalen Hurts’ former Alabama teammate has been sharp during the winning streak, completing 78 percent of his passes with five TDs and one INT and a passer rating over 100 in his last four starts. Now the Dolphins have to surround him with more talent, and the 6-foot-7, 340-pound Penning is a solid starting point. Penning is a record-setting weight lifter, a terrific athlete and already has very good technique.

20. Washington Football Team: Charles Cross, OL, Mississippi State

Cross is an unusually lean 6-foot-5, 300 pounds, but that doesn’t mean he’s a finesse player. Cross is a mauler both in the run game and the passing game for Mike Leach’s high-powered Bulldog offense. Cross has not allowed a sack this year and has allowed only five pressures, and that’s the sort of production that NFL teams love. Washington is likely to lose Charles Leno to free agency, and Cross would give Ron Rivera a stud left tackle to build around.

21. Bengals: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa

The Bengals have had one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines for years, and this year is no different. They’re 28th in sacks allowed (after ranking 25th last year, 22nd in 2019, 17thin 2018, 22nd in 2017, 26th in 2016 and 18th in 2015), and Joe Burrow has been sacked a whopping 36 times, 2nd-most in the league (behind only Lamar Jackson). Priority No. 1 for the Bengals this offseason has to be protecting Burrow, and Linderbaum is one of the top interior linemen in the draft this year. Center Trey Hopkins probably won’t be back, and Linderbaum is a perfect fit for the Bengals.

22. Chargers: Drake Jackson, Edge, USC

The Chargers are another team that hasn’t generated the type of pass pressure they should considering Joey Bosa’s presence. Without a second legit pass rusher, Bosa has been double teamed all year. Uchenna Nwosu has just 12 sacks in four seasons since he was a 2nd-round pick, so Jackson can come in and take some pressure off Bosa. Jackson hasn’t had elite college production – 12 ½ career sacks, including 5.0 this year – and that might scare off some teams. But at 6-foot-4, 250 with a good combination of speed and power, he has all the traits you want in an edge rusher.

23. Bills: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

Don’t be tricked by Elam’s numbers. He only has one interception and five pass knockdowns for the Gators. But that’s largely because teams just don’t bother throwing his way very often. He’s that good on a middle-of-the-road defense. Tre’Davious White’s torn ACL illustrated the Bills’ lack of depth at cornerback, and Elam can step right in and be CB2 across from White whenever he’s healthy. Elam is a tough, smart, athletic corner and at 6-2, 195, looks like a Sean McDermott type of player.

 

24. Lions [from Rams]: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

The Ohio State transfer found a home in his first year in Tuscaloosa, with 68 catches for 1,445 yards and 15 touchdowns. He’s 5th in the BCS in receiving yards and second in touchdowns. The only Albama players who’ve ever had more yards in a season than Williams are DeVonta Smith and Amari Cooper. Pretty good company. The Lions don’t have a receiver with 500 yards this year, and their need for an outside playmaker is desperate. When you’re 1-10-1 you have a lot of needs, but the Lions can’t compete without upgrading big-time at wide receiver.

25. Cowboys: DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M

The Cowboys are 8-4 and on their way to the playoffs for the first time since 2018 but that’s largely due to the No. 1 offense in the league. Their defense is ranked 27th, and Jerry Jones knows the Cowboys will never be a legit contender for anything unless they fix the defense. Leal grew up in San Antonio and played college football in College Station, so the Cowboys can keep him in Texas and add a big piece to their inconsistent defensive line. Leal has the power and strength to line up inside but is athletic and quick enough to play outside. Leal racked up 8 ½ sacks and 12 ½ tackles for loss this year playing for A&M and showed the type of improvement from very good player last year to stud this year that gets NFL teams’ attention.

26. Chiefs: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

They’ve been significantly better recently, but the Chiefs still have a bottom-10 pass defense and as gifted as Pat Mahomes is, the Chiefs have found themselves in too many shootouts this year, unable to put teams away because of a leaky pass defense. Enter McDuffie, another in this strong cornerback class. McDuffie doesn’t have the size of some of the top corners in this year’s draft, but he’s a smart, polished, fiesty corner that won’t hesitate to mix it up with top receivers, and he should provide immediate help to a leaky Chiefs secondary.

27. Ravens: Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State

His career in Columbus started of a little slowly, but once Petit-Frere finally earned a starting spot last year the improvement came quick, and by this fall he had established himself as a potential 1st-round pick. Petit-Frere stands 6-foot-5, 315 pounds and he has the frame where he can add a few pounds once he gets into the NFL. What will intrigue NFL scouts is Petit-Frere’s pass blocking. He’s a polished and powerful pass blocker and considering that Ohio State averaged 40 pass plays a game under one-time Eagles assistant coach Ryan Day, he really had a chance to show he’s NFL-ready.

 

28. Buccaneers: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

If Lloyd had declared for the draft last year, he would have been a fairly high pick. But he bet on himself, had a huge season and is now a likely 1st-round pick. Lloyd has 7.0 sacks and four interceptions, which is tremendous production for a linebacker. The only other BCS player with at least four interceptions and sacks is Hawaii safety Khoury Bethley. When you get down this late in the draft, teams are in pure BPA mode, and you know Todd Bowles would love to get his hands on a young, versatile playmaking linebacker like Lloyd.

29. Titans: Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

Gardner is the fifth corner we have going in the first round this year, but after Stingley the order could certainly change based on pro days, interviews and the combine. It wouldn’t surprise anybody if Gardner goes in the first half of the draft with an impressive offseason. Gardner was a late bloomer but by last year had developed into a prototype NFL corner and at 6-3, 190, he sure looks the part. Gardner has three interceptions, four tackles for loss and three sacks for the undefeated Bearcat (who are 33-4 in his three years as a starter), who are ranked 4th in the nation in defense. Even though they’re 8-4, the Titans have the 26th-ranked pass defense in the league, and Gardner could help fix that in a hurry.

30. Packers: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

It remains to be seen whether Davante Adams and/or Randall Cobb will be back in Green Bay next year, but it’s safe to say whatever happens the Packers will be in the market for a young wide out at the bottom of the first round. Dotson came a long way this year and had a career year with 91 catches, 1,182 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s 9th in the BCS in receptions, 14th in receiving yards and 6th in TD catches, the best season by a Penn State WR since Allen Robinson in 2013. Dotson is a polished route runner, has great hands and is also a capable returner. The Packers haven’t drafted a WR in the first round since Javon Walker out of Florida State in 2002, and Dotson could be the guy to end that streak.

31. Patriots: Darian Kinnard, OL, Kentucky

You start with his 6-foot-5, 340-pound frame, but the next thing you notice is how athletic he is at 340 pounds. Kinnard needs some work on his technique, like a lot of young offensive tackles, but his combination of size, power and athleticism make him an intriguing prospect. As well as the Patriots and rookie QB Mac Jones have played the second half of the season, the Patriots are still in the bottom half of the league when it comes to protecting the quarterback, and Kinnard would give Bill Belichick and Co. a big-time o-line prospect who could help keep Jones safe and sound moving forward.

32. Cards: Drake London, WR, USC

With Christian Kirk set to become a free agent, the Cards need to make sure Kyler Murray has plenty of weapons, and London would be USC’s first 1st-round wide receiver since 2015, when the Eagles took Nelson Agholor. London suffered a season-ending ankle injury in late October, but he had already established himself as one of the top receivers in college football, with 88-for-1,084 and seven TDs in just eight games. With his unique size – 6-foot-5, 210 pounds – and basketball background – he actually played a year of hoops at USC – London has an enormous catch radius and ability to come down with contested catches. The Cards have only drafted one WR since Larry Fitzgerald in 2004, and that was Michael Floyd in 2012. London is a perfect fit for Kliff Kingsbury’s high-octane offense.