NFL mock draft 2019: Eagles-only seven-round version 2.0

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NFL mock draft 2019: Eagles-only seven-round version 2.0

We still have a few months to go before the NFL draft and the combine in Indianapolis will go a long way to deciding where all these prospects will end up. 

But for now, it’s fun for everyone to guess and I don’t want to be left out of the fun. 

Here’s my latest shot at an Eagles’ seven-round mock draft: 

Round 1: Zach Allen, DE, Boston College
With how much talent there is in this draft at defensive line, I don’t think the Eagles should wait to take one. Allen would be a good pick at the bottom of the first round out of BC. Allen (6-5, 285) had 6 1/2 sacks as a senior, but also proved to be very good against the run and creating negative plays. In his last two college seasons, Allen had 30 1/2 TFLs. The Eagles love pass rushers who get after the quarterback, but they need their ends to stop the run too and Allen can do both. 

Allen’s best game of the season came against Temple. He had two sacks, four TFLs and two batted passes. The one thing that stands out about Allen is his effort. It’s always there. 

Brandon Graham is set to be a free agent, so if he leaves this offseason and if Chris Long retires, the Eagles need to replenish their defensive end rotation. Sure, they have other needs, but getting a pass rusher should be up there. 

Round 2 (from Ravens): Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia 
There’s a chance Cajuste will already be gone when the Eagles make this pick, but there’s a chance he lasts into the second round and then if the Eagles want to make a move to get up there and get a borderline first-round talent, why not? 

A three-year starter, Cajuste (6-5, 308) missed his 2016 season with an ACL tear, but came back to start 24 games over the last two seasons as he enters the draft. He’s a big and powerful offensive tackle and the Eagles are never shy to take players from West Virginia. 

Even if Jason Peters is back for the 2019 season, the Eagles need to start thinking about life after he’s gone. This would be a good time to draft his replacement. If they don’t get an OT in the first round, they ought to think about snagging one in the second. 

Round 2: Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State 
He’s just 5-10, 190, so I understand the hesitance about Hill, but he’s been an extremely productive player in college at that size. In three years, he averaged 5.6 yards per carry and also showed the ability to be a receiver out of the backfield, something obviously important to the Eagles. 

I’m looking forward to seeing what he does at the combine, but he’s an elusive, quick player in space. He has a burst and lateral quickness the Eagles have been missing at running back. 

The Eagles haven’t taken a running back in the top two rounds since they took Shady in the second round back in 2009. So maybe it’s still not likely. But they definitely need an infusion of talent at that position, so maybe this is the year — with two second-round picks — to make it happen. Same goes for another running back too, so if David Montgomery is still on the board and you like him or Devin Singletary, fair enough. It’s about finding the right one. The Eagles haven’t had luck doing that with the running back position recently. 

Round 4: Khalen Saunders, DT, Western Illinois
At the Senior Bowl, Saunders made headlines as his fiancee went into labor while he was in Alabama. Saunders was thrilled to be a father but stayed in Mobile and it paid off because he reportedly had a pretty good week there, being named a Player of the Week. 

You might know him as the big defensive tackle who can do a backflip, and he can. 

But he can play too. Saunders (6-1, 320) is a great athlete for his size and would be a great fit in Philly. Maybe he performed too well and will be long gone by the fourth round. That’s possible, but with such a deep defensive line class, some guys are going to fall. 

Round 4 (comp): Terrill Hanks, LB, New Mexico State 
Another small school guy, Hanks was apparently one of the big standouts from the Senior Bowl, where he put himself on the radar for several NFL teams. He weighed in at 6-2, 234, which might sound small, but he’s a linebacker built for this NFL. He has a defensive back background and the cover skills to match. Based on reports out of Mobile, he consistently impressed with his ability to cover running backs out of the backfield. 

Remember, the Eagles like the idea of linebackers with cover skills like this. Just a couple years ago, they drafted Nate Gerry to play linebacker after he played safety at Nebraska. Getting a guy like Hanks would make sense, because he’s at least already been playing LB in college. We have to remember he played at a lower level, but his highlights are really fun to watch. 

The Eagles are going to be forced to make a decision with Jordan Hicks this offseason as he faces free agency. After that, they still have Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill, but they could use some more talent in that room. 

Round 5: Terry Beckner Jr., DT, Missouri
There was a time not that long ago when Beckner (6-4, 305) was a much more sought after prospect. But he had two knee surgeries in college, so it’ll be interesting to see what teams find in their medical exams at the combine. I wanted to see what he would have done at the Shrine Game, but he skipped it. 

The good news is that after those two knee injuries earlier in his college career, he played in 26 games in 2017 and 2018 and played well. He has 10 1/2 sacks as a junior and senior and 22 total TFLs. 

Beckner wouldn’t likely come into the NFL as a starter, but he could sure be a rotational player. 

Round 6: Hunter Renfrow, WR, Clemson 
I’m not exactly sure what to make of Renfrow. He’s tiny (5-10, 185) and doesn’t explode athletically, but he’s a good player. He was productive at Clemson and catches everything thrown his way, even with his 7 3/4-inch hands. It’s pretty impressive. 

He’s a really solid player and he had a good week at Senior Bowl. Does he fit the Eagles’ need for top-end stretch-the-field speed? No. But they could do a heckuva lot worse in the sixth round than a receiver I’m confident could at least play a role. He projects as a slot guy because of his size, but he could be a productive slot guy. 

Round 6 (comp): Lukas Denis, S, Boston College
After picking off seven passes as a junior, Denis (5-11, 181) decided to return for his senior season. It was a good year, but he had just one interception and missed a few big tackles. But he still seems to have a knack for making plays and is a football magnet. 

Sometimes when a team is watching one prospect, another guy pops up. That’s sort of what I’m thinking could happen here. Allen is a player who would make a ton of sense for the Eagles, but Denis keeps showing up on the film. 

Round 6 (comp): Easton Stick, QB, North Dakota State
I think the Eagles are going to bring in a developmental quarterback this draft season. They haven’t drafted one since Carson Wentz in 2016 and with Nick Foles’ likely departure, they could afford to use that roster spot on a young passer. How about a guy they should have plenty of intel on? 

Stick, who took over for Wentz at NDSU is a mobile passer, who put up impressive numbers through the air and on the ground during his college career. At 6-2, Stick isn’t nearly as big as Wentz and he’s a different kind of player, but having him in the QB room wouldn’t be a bad thing.

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Starting today, Eagles can franchise tag Nick Foles ... but will they?

Starting today, Eagles can franchise tag Nick Foles ... but will they?

The NFL’s annual game of tag begins today. 

That doesn’t mean the Eagles are going to play. 

Today marks the first day that NFL teams can slap a franchise tag (or transition tag) on a pending free agent, which basically gives that player a one-year deal at a pretty high salary for a season (average of the top five players at that position). The Eagles really only have one candidate for the franchise tag this year and it’s quarterback Nick Foles. 

The idea here is that the Eagles could possibly slap a franchise tag on Foles and then trade him to get back better compensation than they’d eventually get from a compensatory pick for 2020. The tagging window runs through March 5. 

If the Eagles were to use a franchise tag on Foles, they would have to be extremely confident in their ability to trade Foles; more likely, they would need to have a trade worked out. So don’t just expect the Eagles to tag Foles and then see what happens. 

Later this month, the NFL combine will take over Indianapolis. That seems to be the most likely time for Eagles VP of football operations Howie Roseman to work something out. And Roseman would probably really love to trade Foles because the former Super Bowl MVP does have value. 

But I still think it’s unlikely to happen. Here are three reasons why: 

1. It’s technically against the rules 
My colleague Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk did a good job digging this up (see story). In the CBA, it says if a franchise tender is extended, the club must “have a good faith intention to employ the player receiving the Tender at the Tender compensation level during the upcoming season.” 

So it would seem pretty obvious to all of us that the Eagles don’t plan on employing Foles to be a backup quarterback with a price tag of around $25 million in 2019. Slapping a tag on him for the purpose of a trade would violate the spirit of the franchise tag rule. Florio thinks if the Eagles tagged Foles, the QB could still become a free agent by March 13 by fighting it with an expedited grievance. 

There is some gray area here, though. Because while it sure seems obvious the Eagles don’t want to pay Foles $25 million, we’d be expecting the NFL to decipher the intentions of a team, which certainly isn’t an absolute. 

2. It would take salary cap space 
Since the Eagles already exercised Foles’ option and Foles paid back $2 million to buy his freedom, his contract will come off the books at the start of the new league year, making the Eagles cap compliant. If the Eagles tag him and Foles signs the tag — even if they just want to trade him — they’d have to fit his entire salary (approximately $25 million) under the cap. Basically, Foles has to be on their books before they trade him. The Eagles are in a tight cap spot right now, so that would take some maneuvering. They could get there, but it would be a little more complicated. 

3. Foles has all the leverage 
To me, this is the big one. It seems pretty clear Foles will want to become a free agent. Why would he want the Eagles to dictate where he ends up? If you’re thinking it doesn’t matter what Foles wants — the Eagles should trade him anyway! — think about this: What team would trade for a QB who doesn’t want to be there and who won’t sign an extension? And why would Foles want to strip his new team of assets (players or picks) before he gets there?

The Eagles would also be in a position where any trade partner knows they need to trade Foles. That doesn’t necessarily make it harder to trade him; but it does hurt his value. We have no way to know for sure, but we kind of assume Foles will bring back a third-round compensatory pick in the 2020 draft, so any compensation in a trade now would need to be greater than that. 

— — — 

Just after the season ended, Roseman, when asked about the Foles situation, said the Eagles ultimately needed to do what was best for them. But he also admitted there’s a “respect factor” when it comes to players like Foles. If that’s true, the Eagles should have open communication with Foles and his agent. And maybe Roseman is able to work some magic and get him on board with a trade, but I just can’t see it. 

If the Eagles don’t tag Foles by 4 p.m. on March 5, he’ll become a free agent on March 13. To me, that still seems like the most likely ending to this story. 

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NFL mock draft 2019 roundup 5.0: Does cornerback even make sense?

NFL mock draft 2019 roundup 5.0: Does cornerback even make sense?

We’re still weeks away from the start of free agency, which will inform how a lot of teams draft, particularly in the first round. 

But that hasn’t stopped the flood of mock drafts. So many mock drafts. 

Honestly, I’m getting a little worried about the guys from CBS Sports. Blink twice if you’re locked in a room, being forced to fill out mock after mock. 

Anyway, here’s the latest roundup to see who the Eagles might take at 25: 

ESPN, Mel Kiper Jr.

Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson 

Here’s what they said: “Injuries in the secondary really hurt the Eagles in 2018, as the defense couldn’t match the play that led it a Super Bowl LII victory. And with Ronald Darby possibly leaving in free agency, cornerback is a spot to target here or with one of their two second-round picks. Mullen had an inconsistent 2018 season, but he has some excellent 2017 tape. And at 6-foot-2, 186 pounds, he’s a big corner. He should test well in Indianapolis.”

My take on Mullen: Oh, a corner? I’ve seen several mock drafts where the Eagles take a corner. Yeah … I’m not sold on that idea. The Eagles have some decent depth there and I’d imagine they’d rather try to develop some of the young talent at that position. They still have Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones, Cre’Von LeBlanc. If there was a corner that was wayyyy ahead as BPA, maybe they’d do it. But I doubt that will happen. As for Mullen, he’s a long corner with good cover skills. He might be a reach at 25. 

San Diego Union-Tribune, Eddie Brown 

Byron Murphy, CB, Washington 

Here’s what they said: “The secondary remains the weakest link of this team for various reasons. Murphy is an athletic playmaker with great instincts and an active tackler, especially against the run.”

My take on Murphy: Another corner, Eddie? We already got into the position above, so let’s take a closer look at Murphy. I really like him despite his lack of size and unlike Mullen, I think he’s a better first-round prospect. Some teams will want him to play inside because of his height, but he’s good enough to play outside. Maybe the Eagles want another Washington corner, but there are more pressing needs.  

TheDraftNetwork, Benjamin Solak 

David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin 

Here’s what they said: “David Edwards was recently featured in a piece on overrated prospects from Bleacher Report, which I found mighty interesting — because nobody really talks about him that highly in this class. He’s a borderline Top-5 OT, and that’s mostly on upside.

“Philadelphia is fine with that trade, however: they need an OT to start in 2020, not 2019, the last year of Jason Peters’ deal. Edwards has elite athleticism for the tackle position, and a good foundation of technical skills given his limited years playing offensive tackle for the Badgers.

“Within a couple years of NFL ball, you expect him to be a starting-caliber player, with a sky-high ceiling.”

My take on Edwards: I think offensive tackle would make quite a bit of sense for the Eagles in the first round. It’s time to think about life after Peters and none of us know what Jordan Mailata will become. There’s some sneaky OT depth in this draft; I think five or six will go in the first round. As for Edwards, he’s a fine prospect, but there are several other tackles in this class I like more and there were a couple of them available in this mock when Edwards went. But still, decent idea. 

CBS Sports, Chris Trapasso 

Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame 

Here’s what they said: “Defensive line is a sneaky need for the Eagles, and Tillery can play anywhere up front and create pressure with his towering frame.”

My take on Tillery: I don’t dislike this pick. Tillery is a huge guy at 6-foot-7, 305 pounds and could be plugged in next to Fletcher Cox. He had seven sacks in 2018 and proved to be a pretty good pass rusher mainly with his power. He might get into the first round after Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons tore his ACL. 

NFL.com, Maurice Jones-Drew

Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson 

Here’s what they said: “Lawrence is a big, talented player who will alleviate pressure on Fletcher Cox.”

My take on Lawrence: He’s been a pretty popular pick for the Eagles and he’s a good player, but I want a little more pass rush from a DT in Round 1. He’s known more as a big ol’ run stuffer.  

CBS Sports, Ryan Wilson

Jachai Polite, DE, Florida 

Here’s what they said: Polite was one of the most exciting players we watched last season. There will be questions about his size (he's listed at 240) and his one year of production, but if teams are OK with both, he could be a top-15 pick.

My take on Polite: First, I’ll say I like Polite as a prospect and think he’ll be off the board well before the Eagles pick at No. 25. I think with his size, he’s a better fit to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4. In the right system, I think he could become a dynamic pass rusher. Not the best fit in Philly, but still worth thinking about if he’s available. The Eagles should seriously think about taking an edge rusher in Round 1. 

CBS Sports, Pete Prisco 

Brian Burns, DE, Florida 

Here’s what they said: "They will likely lose Brandon Graham in free agency and they need to get a young pass rusher to go with Derek Barnett. Burns has big-time speed."

My take on Burns: Burns is tall and skinny. He’s 6-5 and around 230 pounds, which isn’t exactly ideal size for a 4-3 DE. Remember when the Eagles drafted Josh Sweat out of Florida State last year? He’s 6-5, 250. But Burns is a really intriguing prospect who had 23 sacks in three years at Florida State, including a 10-sack campaign in 2018. He’s a really good pass rusher but lacks power as you might anticipate. We’ll see if he puts on weight for the combine and keeps his speed. Like I said above, though, defensive end should be right at the top of the list for the Eagles in this deep defensive line class. 

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