Draft season is about to kick it into high gear this week at the combine in Indianapolis. I’m flying there later today.
So this is the first Eagles-only mock draft since the compensatory picks were announced and it’s the last before we see which players tear up the combine drills.
Round 1 (25): Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
I know, I know. “Oliver is going to be long gone by then.” And, I think you might be right. But in his mock draft, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein — whom I really trust — had Oliver going at No. 28. It’s possible the NFL is hesitant to make him a top-10 pick. If Oliver is on the board when the Eagles pick, someone in an Eagles shirt should run a 4.4 getting this pick in. Zierlein has Oliver going so late because he “lacks prototype size,” so we’ll start there. Oliver is 6-foot-2, 290 pounds (that 290 might have been a stretch for part of his time at Houston), which is obviously not ideal for a DT in the NFL. It will probably be a big concern for some teams.
If you can overlook his lack of weight, Oliver has elite athletic ability and I have a feeling he’s about to go to Indianapolis and crush the on-field drills. His speed, burst and footwork are great.
Even if Oliver isn’t on the board at 25, if he’s there around 17, 18, the Eagles should seriously think about trading up to get him.
Defensive tackle is an area of need for the Eagles this offseason. Tim Jernigan has a ridiculous $13 million cap hit, which isn’t going to work. And even if Jernigan is back, can the Eagles count on him? They desperately need to get better play out of the DT position next to Fletcher Cox and Oliver would immediately provide that. He also has the quickness to play on the edge.
Round 2 (53): Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis
The last time the Eagles had the 53rd pick, they drafted LeSean McCoy, so maybe it’s time to find another feature back. And maybe Henderson is that guy.
While I admittedly like David Montgomery more, I think Henderson is a really intriguing prospect. He’s definitely more explosive. Sure, the Eagles have been burned by small running backs before and Henderson is 5-9, 200, but he has the chance to become a true three-down back in the NFL.
In his junior season at Memphis, he gained over 1,900 yards on the ground with 22 touchdowns and showed the ability to be a receiver out of the backfield in college too. That’s an important requirement for the Eagles at running back.
The Eagles haven’t drafted a running back in the first two rounds since Shady back in 2009, but they definitely need to upgrade that position. They’ve had five different leading rushers in their last five seasons and they just need some stability. Henderson could offer them that.
Round 2 (57): Oshane Ximines, DE, Old Dominion
In a different year, a pass rusher like Ximines would definitely get into the first round, but like you’ve heard, this is a really deep class of defensive linemen. At the Senior Bowl, he measured in at 6-3, 241 pounds. That’s obviously a little on the light side for a 4-3 end, so he might be viewed as an outside backer in a 3-4. But if he can put on weight, he has the pass rush repertoire to become a good pro. If he gets drafted by the Eagles, he’ll need to beef up and then show he can stop the run. That’s important too.
In his time at Old Dominion, he picked up 32 1/2 sacks, including 11 1/2 his senior season in 2018. He also had 18 tackles for loss in 2018.
The Eagles need to get younger at defensive end. Brandon Graham might be leaving as a free agent, while Michael Bennett and Chris Long are well on the wrong side of 30. The Eagles have Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat, whom they’ve drafted over the last couple of years, but it’s time to do it again.
Round 4 (127): Chuma Edoga, OT, USC
I’ve had the thought that the Eagles could target a tackle in the first two rounds, but if they don’t, Edoga (6-3, 300) might provide a nice option in the fourth round.
He went to the Senior Bowl last month and had a really good showing. He was named the overall practice player of the week. The Eagles for many years have shown a strong interest in Senior Bowl week.
At USC, Edoga primarily played right tackle but was moved to left tackle for the Senior Bowl week. That was important, for him to show he can play on that side of the line. If the Eagles were to draft him, he might become a left tackle with Lane Johnson already established as a Pro Bowler at RT.
The Eagles need to start thinking about replacing Jason Peters, even if it doesn’t happen this year. Drafting an OT in the fourth round might mean one more year of Peters and then letting that draft pick and Jordan Mailata battle it out to be his replacement.
Round 4 (138): Diontae Johnson, WR, Toledo
At 5-11, 180, Johnson isn’t a huge receiver but he has plenty of speed and separation ability to become a deep threat in the NFL. He averaged 16.6 yards per catch at Toledo and averaged 17.3 yards per catch in 2017 as a sophomore. That was his best college season. He had 74 catches for over 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns. His production in 2018 dropped. He had just 49 catches for 761 yards and eight touchdowns. That drop in production could actually help NFL teams find value.
Aside from his ability as a receiver, he also proved to be a really good kick returner and eventually a good punt returner in college. The Eagles could certainly use help there.
Check out his six-catch, 119-yard, two-touchdown game against Miami from last season:
Alshon Jeffery will be back in 2018, but then the Eagles face some questions at the receiver position. What will they do with Nelson Agholor? Will they bring back Golden Tate? Will they sign a different veteran?
Round 5 (163): Evan Worthington, S, Colorado
The 6-2, 210 pound Worthington was once suspended for a year for violating team rules and actually rejoined the team with a different name when he came back (here’s more of his background).
In two years on the field, Worthington played in 21 games and had 10 passes defensed and four interceptions. He’s a little raw because of his lack of experience but is versatile and the Eagles love versatile defensive backs.
The Eagles brought back Rodney McLeod at a discount, but they need to bring in another young safety and Worthington would make sense.
Round 6 (197): Terrill Hanks, LB, New Mexico State
At 6-2, 230, Hanks is small, but he could fit as a linebacker in today’s NFL. He was a productive player for four seasons, going over 100 total tackles in each of his last three college seasons. He also had eight picks in four years to go along with seven forced fumbles and three recoveries.
Jordan Hicks is set to be a free agent and it’s unclear if the Eagles will bring him back. That means Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill might be the two starters in 2018 and a younger player — Nate Gerry or a draft pick — could be the third.
Round 6 (208): Jonathan Ledbetter, DE, Georgia
At 6-4, 277, he wasn’t a premier pass rusher in the SEC. Heck, he had just 4 1/2 sacks in his college career. But he was good against the run and could at least be a serviceable rotational player in the NFL. He had a couple alcohol-related arrests during his college career, but was named a captain for the 2018 season.
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