The annual Senior Bowl is the first step for over 100 NFL Draft hopefuls and it’s where the Eagles have found a lot of players.
In fact, 5 of their 9 picks last year were in Mobile for the event and since Howie Roseman has been back in power since 2016, over 35% of Eagles draft picks have been at the Senior Bowl.
I just got back from Mobile where I watched all these players in practices. Unfortunately, a few key guys, including LB Devin Lloyd and WR Jahan Dotson, pulled out of the event. It would feel like cheating if I included them in this exercise, so I’m leaving them out.
With that in mind, let’s have some fun and look at an Eagles-only mock draft that consists of only players from this year’s Senior Bowl:
1-15: Jermaine Johnson II, Edge, Florida State
Before going down to Mobile, I mocked Johnson to the Eagles at No. 19. At the time, he was considered by some to be a borderline first-rounder. But his performance in Mobile has established him as a first-round pick in April. During the week of practices, Johnson (6-4,259) was dominant, showing off his power, speed and pass rush moves.
Johnson has a unique backstory. He spent 18 months in junior college before going to Georgia. After two years with the Bulldogs and limited opportunities he transferred to Florida State and had a monster year in 2021 with 11 1/2 sacks, 17 1/2 TFLs and 70 tackles.
The Eagles need some help at the edge rusher position. In fact, I’d put that at the top of their list of needs. Josh Sweat became a Pro Bowler this year, but Brandon Graham is 34 and coming off an Achilles injury and Derek Barnett is set to become a free agent.
1-16: Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
McCreary (5-11, 189) was the top cornerback this year in Mobile, which also happens to be his hometown. He was as advertised this week. McCreary is one of a pretty long list of corners whom many have deemed first-round worthy. One knock on McCreary came at weigh in, when his arms measured at just 29 1/4 inches. But … he’s a really good player.
The Eagles will bring back Darius Slay for his third season in 2022 but Steven Nelson is scheduled to be a free agent and Avonte Maddox is better suited to play the slot position. After that, the Eagles have a bunch of young and unproven cornerbacks on their roster.
If the Eagles don’t want to use a first-round pick on a corner, there will be options in Day 2. The top Day 2 option at the Senior Bowl was Cincinnati’s Coby Bryant, who won the Jim Thorpe Award playing opposite Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner.
1-19: Zion Johnson, OL, Boston College
There was some competition for the top offensive lineman this week during Senior Bowl practices, but I’d give my vote to Johnson over Trevor Penning, the likely first-round tackle from Northern Iowa. Johnson (6-2, 314) showed off his skills all week and was consistently tough, even going against some very strong and powerful defensive tackles.
Johnson transferred from Davidson to Boston College, where he played tackle and guard. But a lot of his work in Mobile this week came at center, where he would be an intriguing fit for a lot of NFL teams. Versatility is always a valued trait and Johnson was working hard at center, even staying after practices to work on his snaps.
If Jason Kelce returns, the Eagles might not have a pressing need on the interior of their OL, even after Brandon Brooks’ retirement. They still have Landon Dickerson, Issac Seumalo, Jack Driscoll and likely Nate Herbig. But adding a player like Johnson to the mix can only help, even if he doesn’t start right away. And we know the Eagles will always value offensive linemen in the draft.
2-51: Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor
Speaking of versatility, some defensive coordinators will be drooling over the ways they could use Pitre, who shined all week in Mobile. Pitre (5-10, 196) is athletic, tough and rangy. He has the ability to make plays all over the field in a variety of ways and can cover too.
The Eagles’ two starting safeties from 2021 — Rodney McLeod and Anthony Harris — are set to become unrestricted free agents in March, which will leave Marcus Epps and K’Von Wallace as the top two safeties on the roster. The Eagles have never in their history used a first-round pick on a safety but the second round could be in play. And they definitely need an infusion of young talent.
3-83: Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
Maybe the Eagles won’t use a first-round pick for the third straight year on a receiver but if they’re looking for an ideal complement to DeVonta Smith, they might have one here with Watson. The NDSU receiver is 6-4, 211 pounds and was one of the most impressive receiver in Mobile this week.
In 12 games this season, Watson had 43 catches for 801 yards and 7 touchdowns. He did that at a lower level of competition but there was no question that he belonged with the rest of the group in Mobile. This might seem a tad high for him right now but I’m guessing he’s going to test very well at the Combine and have a real chance to be a Day 2 pick.
4: Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
This past season at Wyoming, Muma (6-2, 241) finished with 142 tackles. He made plays all over the field. While Muma is a tackling machine, he’s also a former safety with speed and decent cover ability. A couple years ago, Muma’s former teammate Logan Wilson went to the Senior Bowl and also proved he belonged with top competition. The Bengals drafted Muma in the third round and he’s about to start for them in the Super Bowl.
Many Eagles fans was them to draft a linebacker in the first round. If that doesn’t happen, getting Muma late on Day 2 or early on Day 3 would be a fine consolation prize.
5: Haskell Garrett, DT, Ohio State
The crop of defensive tackles at this year’s Senior Bowl was very impressive and with how much the Eagles value interior pass rushers, it wouldn’t surprise me to see one get taken. Garrett (6-1, 298) isn’t the biggest interior defensive lineman but he’s explosive and quick inside. And he also offers some versatility. He is most likely a 3-technique but could probably play a few different spots if the Eagles asked him to.
Garrett was injured during practice this week but is still expected to play in the game on Saturday.
The Eagles appear to be in a good spot at DT but Fletcher Cox is getting older, Javon Hargrave is entering the final year of his contract and Milton Williams showed promise as a rookie but is still somewhat unproven. And it wouldn’t be a bad idea to add another DT to the mix.
5: Dameon Pierce, RB, Florida
Going down to Mobile, one of the players I wanted to see most was Pierce. While Brian Robinson Jr. from Alabama was the best running back during the week, Pierce was a close second. At 5-9, 220 pounds, Pierce is a little battering ram who doesn’t go down easy after contact. He runs with an aggressive, run-you-over style that’s undeniable. It’s the kind of style that would really complement Miles Sanders and Kenny Gainwell in Nick Sirianni’s offense.
5: Dominique Robinson, Edge, Miami (OH)
Even if the Eagles take a defensive end early, there’s no rule saying they can’t come back and grab another in a later round. Robinson had a solid week in Mobile and the Eagles have been showing interest in him. Robinson didn’t play at the highest levels of competition but he has the type of athleticism that teams often look for on Day 3. Miami recruited Robinson as a quarterback but moved him to receiver before he moved to defense in 2020. Yes, this is a 6-4, 254-pound former wide receiver playing edge. He has a lot of upside.
6: Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State
You could certainly make an argument that the deepest position down in Mobile was tight end. There will likely be a couple tight ends from the Senior Bowl to get drafted before Kolar, but I like his upside. Kolar measured in at 6-6, 256 pounds and would be an ideal TE2 next to Dallas Goedert in the Eagles’ offense.
At Iowa State, Kolar was a very reliable target. As a senior, he caught 62 passes for 756 yards and 6 touchdowns. He’s somewhat limited athletically but as a TE2, he’d be a nice get.