We’ve made it into April and it feels pretty good saying the NFL draft is later this month.
Without wasting any more time, let’s get into my latest Eagles-only mock:
Round 1 (25): Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
Even after bringing back Rodney McLeod and signing Andrew Sendejo, safety should still be a draft need for the Eagles and they have a chance to take the top one off the board in the first round. Maybe it’s still more likely they take a defensive lineman in the first round, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of taking a safety either.
The biggest knock on Adderley is that he played for a small program, but he has all the traits teams want in an NFL safety. At 6-0, 206, Adderley has good range and played cornerback earlier in his college career. The Eagles always value versatility in the secondary. There’s also a discernible intensity to Adderley’s game. In 2018, he had 87 tackles, four INTs and seven PBUs for the Blue Hens and has been a return man. The Eagles were reportedly at Delaware’s pro day to get a closer look at him.
The Eagles have McLeod under contract for one more season, but he’s coming off a serious injury and his future after the 2019 season is up in the air. Malcolm Jenkins is 31 now. And Sendejo signed a contract for one year, but that’s not a reason to draft a safety. In fact, the Eagles could even cut Sendejo for a minimal cap hit if he doesn’t work out; that would also erase him from the comp pick formula, like Corey Nelson last season.
If the Eagles drafted Adderley, he would figure in immediately as the third safety when Jenkins plays linebacker or slot corner, which means he would get decent playing time as a rookie. He’d also be groomed to become a starter in Year 2.
Round 2 (53): A.J. Brown, WR, Mississippi
The more I watch Brown, the more I like him. I’m not convinced he’s not the better of the two Ole Miss receivers coming out this year. While D.K. Metcalf is built like a brick house, his agility numbers tell me he couldn’t limbo under a high jump. Meanwhile, Brown looks like the whole package. He has played in the slot, but he can play outside too. He has a little bit of everything. To me, he’s a much more complete player than his college teammate.
In his junior season, Brown caught 85 passes for 1,320 yards and six touchdowns. That came after a 75/1,252/11 campaign as a sophomore. He’s good enough that I’m starting to think he won’t be available at 53.
The Eagles have a ton of money tied up in receivers this season, but Brown would be a top backup/rotational player in 2019 and would replace Nelson Agholor in 2020. The Eagles are set with their top three receivers this season — Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Agholor — but they don’t have much depth right now. Mack Hollins, coming off a lost season, is their top backup. I think the Eagles will try to improve that depth with this draft. The Eagles have done their work on Brown.
Round 2 (57) L.J. Collier, DE, TCU
I wanted to put Michigan’s Chase Winovich here, but I have a feeling he’ll be long gone by this pick. Collier reportedly had a pre-draft visit set up with the Eagles, so they’re at least somewhat interested in him. Collier was an All-Big 12 selection but was a starter for just one season at TCU. In 2018, he had 42 tackles, 11.5 TFLs and six sacks.
Collier is a powerful edge rusher who could immediately help the Eagles in their rotation.
The Eagles will start Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett this season and will then have a rotation including Josh Sweat and possibly Chris Long, if he returns. The Eagles should definitely draft an edge rusher this season because of how deep the class is. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them end up with a few defensive linemen.
Round 4 (127): Khalen Saunders, DT, Western Illinois
The Eagles don’t have a third-round pick (for now), so I have them coming back to double dip at defensive line. Saunders gained fame for his back flip video and it’s that kind of athleticism at his size that makes him such an intriguing prospect.
At the combine, he ran a 5.01 in the 40 at 324 pounds. That’s the fastest 40 time at the combine for a player over 320 pounds since OL Greg Robinson in the 2014 pre-draft process. More importantly, his 7.57 is the best for a 320-pounder since Jarvis Harrison in 2015.
In the last 20 years, there hasn’t been another 320-plus pound defensive lineman to put up those numbers in the 40-yard dash and the 3-cone drill.
Even with Malik Jackson in the fold, the Eagles could still use some help at defensive tackle. Their top backup right now is Treyvon Hester.
Round 4 (138): Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma
If the Eagles choose to skip out on a running back in the earlier rounds, Anderson offers intrigue in the fourth or fifth. Anderson is too talented to last until the fourth round, but he’s been plagued by injuries during his college career. In his sophomore season in 2017 (his only healthy season), Anderson had 188 carries for 1,161 yards and 13 touchdowns, but then he played in just two games as a junior. It’s a shame too, because his 2018 season started with a five-carry, 100-yard game with two touchdowns against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 3; he tore his ACL the week later.
If Anderson can actually stay on the field, he’s a promising prospect with good balance and patience. He also seems to have some ability as a pass catcher out of the backfield.
The Eagles traded for Jordan Howard, but that could end up just being a one-year fix. Anderson could be a nice pickup to replace Howard in 2020 and complement him in 2019.
Round 5 (163): Beau Benzschawel, OL, Wisconsin
At 6-6, 309, Benzschawel is probably a little tall to project as a guard in the NFL, but the Eagles overlooked that when they drafted Matt Pryor out of TCU last year. The Eagles obviously value versatility and Benzschawel played a little tackle in college in addition to his time at guard. He played and started in 49 games with the Badgers, so he has a body of work.
After letting Stefen Wisniewski walk, the Eagles’ top interior backup right now is the unproven Pryor. It would make sense if they want to add more depth.
Round 6 (197): Gary Johnson, LB, Texas
This probably isn’t the way many Eagles fans want the Birds to handle the hole at linebacker, but I still have a hard time imagining them using one of their premier picks on one. Johnson is a JUCO transfer who was a full-time starter for his senior season in 2018. He led the Longhorns in tackles with 90 and had 16.5 TFLs. His 40-yard time of 4.43 was the second best among linebackers, tied with Devin Bush and just behind Devin White (4.42). But the rest of his numbers weren’t great.
The Eagles let Jordan Hicks take a big contract to join the Cardinals this offseason, so they’ll need to replace him. Nigel Bradham, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry, L.J. Fort, Paul Worrilow and B.J. Bello are still on the roster.
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