NFL mock draft 2019: Eagles-only seven-round version 3.0

NFL mock draft 2019: Eagles-only seven-round version 3.0

We still have a couple months until the 2019 NFL draft, which means we have two more months of mock drafts! 

The Eagles are expected to have nine draft picks (including compensatory picks) in this spring’s draft. As for now, they have two second-round picks after trading out of the first round last year and two fourths. They lost their third when they traded it to Detroit for Golden Tate during the 2018 season. 

Let’s get to it:

Round 1: Greg Little, OT, Mississippi 

There’s some sneaky offensive tackle depth at the top of this draft class. There are as many as five or six offensive tackles who could go in the first round and Little is one of them. At 6-foot-6, 325 pounds, Little has all the physical attributes and athleticism to make it as a starting left tackle in the NFL. He’s the kind of guy Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland would love to get his hands on. 

I think Andre Dillard from Washington would be a great fit too, but I have a feeling he’ll be gone by the time the Eagles pick at 25. 

The Eagles have a big decision coming up. Even if Jason Peters is back for the 2019 season, he’s not going to be around forever. We don’t really know yet what they have in Jordan Mailata, so the Eagles probably need to draft an offensive tackle with one of their first three picks. Unless you think Halapoulivaati Vaitai is the answer … I do not. Little could step in and start immediately, but would still be a work in progress. Still, I think he could be the future of that position in Philly. 

Round 2 (from Ravens): David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State

The Eagles haven’t taken a running back in the first two rounds since LeSean McCoy back in 2009, but this could be the year. They absolutely need some help at the RB position and Montgomery (5-11, 219) is a great prospect. In his last two college seasons, he rushed for over 2,300 yards and also showed some ability as a receiver. That’s a heavy workload, but that shouldn’t scare off NFL teams. 

He’s the kind of back that I think would fit really well in the Eagles’ offense and could take over as the featured guy in their rotation. He projects as a true three-down back. 

Jay Ajayi is going to be a free agent, Darren Sproles might retire and Corey Clement is coming off a serious knee injury. The Eagles need to solidify the running back spot. It might not come in the first two rounds, but I’d be pretty surprised if they don’t draft one this year. 

Round: 2: Jaylon Ferguson, DE, Louisiana Tech 

In this mock draft, I have the Eagles waiting a bit to get some value from this deep defensive line class. I think there’s still a good chance they use their first-round pick to take a defensive lineman, but they can still find talent after the first round. Some think Ferguson might be a first-round pick, but I’m not sold on that. 

It’s hard to argue with his production, though. Ferguson filled up box scores in college. He had 17½ sacks his senior year to go along with 26 TFLs. In four years at LA Tech, he had 45 sacks and 67½ tackles for loss. That’s pretty incredible. At 6-5, 259, he’ll probably need to fill out some more, but I think his frame can handle it. 

It’s a good time for the draft to be deep with edge rushers because the Eagles might need a couple. Brandon Graham might leave in free agency and we don’t know what’s going to happen with Chris Long. The Eagles should bring back Michael Bennett and Derek Barnett, but they need more “fastballs,” as the team calls them. 

Round 4: Isaiah Buggs, DT, Alabama 

The 6-3, nearly 300-pound Buggs had a big week at the Senior Bowl, being named the top defensive lineman of the week. 

The junior college transfer had a big senior season, picking up 9½ sacks to go along with 13½ TFLs. He might be gone by the fourth round, but the DL depth in this draft and his lack of elite athleticism could possibly drop him into this range. He’s a big defensive tackle inside and would help fill the void next to Fletcher Cox, especially if Tim Jernigan isn’t back. 

The Eagles need to upgrade the DT spot next to Cox. They can’t have another season with guys like Destiny Vaeao, Haloti Ngata and Treyvon Hester. 

Round 4 (comp): Emanuel Hall, WR, Missouri 

There’s a pretty good chance Hall goes to the combine and runs his way into the third round or even into the second, but for now, this would be great value. During his college career, he averaged 20.8 yards per attempt and in the last two seasons was at 23.5 yards per reception. That’s the exact kind of deep threat the Eagles need. 

For the last two seasons, the Eagles have tried to find deep speed in any way they can. They’ve signed Torrey Smith and Mike Wallace, and they’ve drafted Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson. I don’t know if Hall would definitely be the answer, but I’d say it’s a safe bet that the Eagles are going to be looking for that speed guy again this offseason. 

Round 5: L.J. Collier, DE, TCU 

Another dip into a deep defensive line class for the 6-2, 272-pound defensive lineman. Not a huge body of work but had a good 2018 season, picking up six sacks and 11½ TFLs for the Horned Frogs. The Eagles will probably like his motor and relentlessness. He’s probably a rotational player, but sometimes that’s OK. 

Round 6: Chase Hansen, LB, Utah 

We’ve seen the Eagles like these safeties-turned-linebackers and Hansen could be another one. He moved to linebacker as a senior, so he’d have a jump on a guy like Nate Gerry, who didn’t make the switch until he got to the NFL. In recent years, the Eagles have rightfully prioritized finding linebackers who are athletic and can cover. Hansen would fit that requirement. 

Round 6 (comp): Alex Wesley, WR, Northern Colorado 

A bit of a surprise addition to the Senior Bowl, Wesley has a track background and could offer a team a late-round shot at finding cheap speed. In 2018, he averaged 18.4 yards per catch and went over 1,000 yards receiving on the season. At 5-11, 191 pounds, he doesn’t have the prototypical long body for a stretch-the-field receiver but his history in the 400 meters (he was a two-time Big Sky Conference winner) makes me think his speed will intrigue NFL teams. 

Round 6 (comp): Mark McLaurin, S, Mississippi State 

While his teammate Jonathan Abram could be a Day 2 pick, McLaurin could be a late-round guy. He had a better junior season, when he had 79 tackles and six interceptions. He didn’t have a pick in his senior season, but he did have eight over a two-year span in his sophomore and junior seasons. Reports on him say he misses some tackles, but he made big plays in college. In the sixth round, prospects won’t be perfect. 

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Eagles Mailbag: Faith in Nate Sudfeld, Vinny Curry signing, spreading it around

Eagles Mailbag: Faith in Nate Sudfeld, Vinny Curry signing, spreading it around

The offseason marches on with your questions. 

I already answered your first bunch, including questions on Sidney Jones, Jay Ajayi and running backs in the draft. Now, it’s time for Part 2 of 3. 

Let’s get to it: 

I got a few questions about Nate Sudfeld this week and I certainly understand why. He’s now the Eagles’ backup quarterback and Carson Wentz has finished the last two seasons on the shelf. I think there are legitimate reasons for concern. From the time the Eagles got Sudfeld, I thought he was a possible QB2. The problem here is that he is unproven; we haven’t seen much of him outside of summer practices and minimal game action. It’s somewhat of a gamble for a team with Super Bowl aspirations to go into a season with an unproven backup, especially because of Wentz’s injury history. 

But, to be clear, I like what I’ve seen from Sudfeld. He seems to be pretty athletic and has a big arm. The Eagles have shown how much they like him at every turn. This is one of those situations where I’m skeptical, but just kind of trust their evaluation. 

I don’t think the Curry signing affects Long’s decision as much as it tells us the Eagles are preparing for the possibility Long isn’t back. You have to remember, Curry can play inside and outside, so he might not take as many reps from Long as you think. We’ll see what happens soon with the draft. Long has said he doesn’t want to return as just a locker room guy and a high draft pick would take even more playing time away from him. The Eagles should hope he returns, though. Even at his age, he’s still a productive pass rusher. 

This is one of the big ideas I want to ask Doug Pederson about next week at the owners meetings. The Eagles now have a bunch of different pass catching options. They have a really talented trio of receivers to go along with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Even though Goedert is a really impressive young player, it’s hard to imagine he would be left out at times. The Eagles didn’t trade for DeSean Jackson to sit him on the bench and they aren’t pay Nelson Agholor over $9 million this season to be a spectator. And Alshon Jeffery is going to play. 

It’s a good problem to have, but Pederson needs to figure out a way to get everyone involved. It might be a nightmare for fantasy football owners, though, because I think the game plan will change based on the matchups from week to week. Some weeks they’ll go heavy 11 personnel, but I wouldn’t rule out heavy 12 personnel with Ertz and Goedert on the field sometimes too. 

I don’t. I do agree that running back and linebacker are their two most pressing needs, but I just wouldn’t use a top pick on a linebacker. Maybe they’ll surprise me, but I think it’s much more likely they leave the first two days of the draft with a running back instead of a linebacker. I still believe the Eagles will use No. 25 on a lineman (offense or defense) and will then look at running back with one of their second-round picks. I think they use a Day 3 pick on a linebacker unless they really think they found tremendous value. 

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Eagles are getting older, and that's a growing concern

Eagles are getting older, and that's a growing concern

Taken individually, all the Eagles’ moves so far this offseason make sense. 

Taken as a whole, they raise concern whether the Eagles are getting too old. More specifically, whether Howie Roseman is committing too many dollars to guys on the back end of their careers.

Jason Peters got another year. He’s 37. Jason Kelce got another year and is now signed through 2021. He’s 31. Brandon Graham got a pretty big three-year deal. He turns 31 in a couple weeks.

DeSean Jackson got a sizable contract for a guy who’s 32. Andrew Sendejo is 31. Vinny Curry turns 31 this summer. 

I’ve got no problem with any of the moves taken apart from the others. But the analytics make it pretty clear that older guys are more likely to get hurt or see their production diminish dramatically. 

We saw it last year with guys like Peters, Darren Sproles, Haloti Ngata and Mike Wallace. 

Now, young guys get hurt too, but the older you are as a team, the more you’re at risk. And when those older guys have high cap figures, it makes it tough to function when they start missing time.

According to pro sports salary cap tracker Spotrac, the Eagles had the 17th-oldest team in 2017, when they won the Super Bowl, and the ninth-oldest team last year, when they advanced a round deep in the playoffs. 

Today — and obviously rosters are nowhere near settled — the Eagles have the fifth-oldest team in the NFL.

The Eagles’ nucleus is guys in that 28-to-32 range. Alshon Jeffery, Malcolm Jenkins, Kelce, Nigel Bradham, Fletcher Cox, Zach Ertz, Jackson, Graham, Malik Jackson. 

Who are their best players under 28? Carson Wentz is 26, Nelson Agholor is 25, their promising young defensive backs like Avonte Maddox, Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones are all in their early 20s. Derek Barnett is only 22. 

But there are question marks about every one of them.

This is why Roseman, Joe Douglas and Co. have to nail this draft and the next couple drafts. This is a roster that really needs an infusion of young talent. 

When this current group of veteran stars moves on, who takes over?

Roseman has had only three drafts since being returned to power, and he’s taken only six guys in the first three rounds. Of that group, Wentz is a certified Pro Bowler and a star, although he still needs to show he can stay healthy. 

And Dallas Goedert certainly seems like a stud. 

But the others — Barnett, Jones, Isaac Seumalo and Douglas — are works in progress.

The Eagles have found one Pro Bowl defensive player in their last 13 drafts, and that was Cox in 2012. 

Their draft record has been better on offense, but the Lane Johnson/Ertz draft is now six years old.

The Eagles aren’t in the danger zone. Not yet. But things change quickly in the NFL and teams that can’t keep up in terms of young talent inevitably fall by the wayside.

The Eagles have three of the first 57 picks in next month’s draft, and as of now they have their own picks in the first four rounds of the 2020 draft, plus two 5’s in addition to the compensatory picks they’re stockpiling.

So the opportunity is there to get younger. To get faster and more durable. To find the talent to remain a perennial contender for a deep postseason run.

Right now, the Eagles have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. I see them as a legit Super Bowl contender.

But in the next few years, the face of the Eagles will change dramatically. 

To remain competitive, to remain elite, they need stars to emerge once guys like Peters, Graham, Jenkins, Jackson and Kelce either move on, retire or experience a downturn in their productiveness.

All they have to do is find them.

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