February 29, 2016
The Senior Bowl and NFL Combine are in the books, which can only mean one thing... a new seven round Eagles-only mock draft! Here's our version 3.0.
In the 2015 NFL Draft, there was never a doubt that Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota were going to be drafted No. 1 and No. 2 overall, and that is exactly what happened. In the 2016 draft class, there are no sure-fire slam dunk No. 1 or No. 2 overall-type of quarterback prospects, although there are some very intriguing passers who are going to be taken in the first round.
But there's no way Carson Wentz will make it to the Eagles at pick number 13 overall, right?
Recent history says that quarterback hype this time of year does not match up with reality. We took a look back at mock drafts that were published in February of 2013 and 2014 to see where the experts projected Geno Smith, Teddy Bridgewater, and Johnny Manziel to be drafted.
For that exercise, we selected ESPN, NFL.com, CBS, FOX Sports, USA Today, and Sports Illustrated, which were the biggest football media outlets I could think of.
Let's start with 2013, when Geno Smith was the QB flavor of the month in February. Here's where the experts projected Smith to be drafted:
|Analyst||Media outlet||Geno Smith projection|
|Pete Prisco||CBS||1st overall|
|Daniel Jeremiah||NFL.com||1st overall|
|Don Banks||Sports Illustrated||4th overall|
|Todd McShay||ESPN||8th overall|
|Peter Schrager||FOX||8th overall|
|Tony Pauline||USA Today||8th overall|
Smith would eventually be drafted 39th overall by the Jets.
In 2014, the top QB names were Teddy Bridgewater and, of course, Johnny Freaking Football. First, let's look at Bridgewater:
|Analyst||Media outlet||Teddy Bridgewater projection|
|Peter Schrager||FOX||1st overall|
|Todd McShay||ESPN||3rd overall|
|Daniel Jeremiah||NFL.com||4th overall|
|Don Banks||Sports Illustrated||4th overall|
|Nate Davis||USA Today||4th overall|
|Pete Prisco||CBS||5th overall|
Bridgewater landed in Minnesota after the Vikings traded up to get him with the last pick in the first round (32nd overall).
And of course, Manziel:
|Analyst||Media outlet||Johnny Manziel projection|
|Don Banks||Sports Illustrated||1st overall|
|Nate Davis||USA Today||1st overall|
|Daniel Jeremiah||NFL.com||3rd overall|
|Peter Schrager||FOX||4th overall|
|Pete Prisco||CBS||4th overall|
|Todd McShay||ESPN||5th overall|
Manziel was drafted 22nd overall by the Browns. As it turns out, Blake Bortles wound up being the first QB taken, at 3rd overall by the Jaguars.
The moral of the story (and I'll include myself in this): We (the media) don't know jack in February.
That said, Wentz is big, he has a good arm, a quick release, he's surprisingly athletic, and he has a good feel for the game. However, he will encounter concerns about the level of competition he faced at North Dakota State, and the amount of time he actually played there. We did a thorough review of Wentz's overall game way back in December.
Wentz had his season interrupted by a broken bone in his wrist on his throwing arm, but he competed at the Senior Bowl and looked the part of a franchise quarterback. He also performed well at the Combine. The Eagles have had extreme instability at the quarterback position since they (rightfully) traded Donovan McNabb, and they aren't winning anything until they get it fixed. Wentz could be a guy who may need a year before he's ready to play, but that patience could pay off in the form of long-term quarterback stability, no matter what happens with Sam Bradford.
Jones was the 20th ranked high school recruit in the country by Rivals.com when he committed to Mississippi State in 2013. Jones is short on production, as he had 99 career tackles, 8.5 sacks, and 18 tackles for loss. He was not the impact player over his career that Mississippi State thought they had when they got him to commit, but he played well his senior season. Watching him, there are times when he looks dominant, and there are other times you'll see some really bad moments when he's not hustling to the football.
However, despite that lack of statistical production, Jones is strong, and a very athletic player for his size, with the versatility to play anywhere along the defensive line. Because of his raw size, strength, and athleticism, Jones would normally not be available in the third round in any normal year. However, in a year in which the draft is absurdly stacked with defensive line talent, there could be a few interior defenders available this late who might have otherwise been second round picks.
Turner isn't very athletic (he ran a 5.58 40), and is likely going to have pass protection issues early in his career in the NFL, especially when teams move quicker edge rushers inside on obvious passing downs. However, Turner would give the Eagles something they don't currently have on their roster – a road-grading interior offensive lineman who can move defenders off the line of scrimmage against their will.
Tuerk is a great fit for the Eagles for his versatility. His primary position before he went down with an ACL tear last season was at center, but he has also played left tackle, left guard and right tackle. He's a rare player you can plug in to play all five positions along the offensive line.
At the center position for the Eagles, Jason Kelce has rare athleticism, but he has had a disappointing follow-up to his first Pro Bowl season in 2014. He tore his ACL in 2012, and he missed a chunk of last season after having surgery for a hernia. Kelce returned from both injuries in impressive fashion, so it's too early to call him injury prone, or injury-damaged. The worst case scenario is that Tuerk could serve as a backup both at center and other spots along the OL. The best case scenario is that he earns a starting job somewhere else along the line, perhaps at guard.
Running back is somewhat of an underrated need for the Eagles this offseason. DeMarco Murray is likely to be back with the team in 2016, however, the Eagles can move on from him and save $4 million off their cap in 2017. Barring a monster comeback season, the Eagles will likely jump at that opportunity.
Meanwhile, Darren Sproles will turn 33 in June and Ryan Mathews is effective when healthy, which is rare. The Eagles don't have an obvious immediate need for a new back, but they will. The Eagles don't want to be left with the cupboard bare at running back if all or most of their backs are no longer with the team in 2017.
If Pederson's offense is anything like Andy Reid's, he'll want his running back to be a weapon in the passing game. Prosise was moved to wide receiver from safety early in his career at Notre Dame, before eventually landing at running back. Over the last two seasons, he racked up 55 catches for 824 yards, a 15-yards-per-catch average. Prosise has receiver skills, but not a lot of experience in the backfield, as he had just 166 career carries in college. However, he made the most of his time at RB, gaining 1,158 yards (7.0 yards per carry), and 12 TDs.
As a player new to the position, the biggest concern teams will have with him will be in pass protection, which is a must have skill in a West Coast-type of system. Prosise would make a ton of sense as a mid-round guy the Eagles could develop for 2017 and beyond.
Here's another offensive lineman with positional versatility, although not to the extreme like Tuerk above. At Washington State, Dahl played both at guard and tackle. He'll almost certainly move back to guard in the pros.
While Dahl does not have great athleticism, he's a good "try hard" player. For example, if you care enough, watch his game against Oregon this year. At the 0:22 mark, watch him miss the block on a linebacker in space, and then come back and bury him, opening up room for his back to run. Meanwhile, he held up well going up against a potential top 10 overall pick in DeForest Buckner. You'll also see just how pass-heavy the Cougars' offense was, so Dahl has more than his share of reps in pass protection working as a blind-side blocker.
Obviously, the Eagles need to reload along the offensive line, which Howie Roseman acknowledged at the Combine. Dahl would be offensive lineman number three here.
Driskel was Rivals.com's number one quarterback recruit in the country in 2011. He was heavily recruited before landing at Florida. After a very disappointing career at Florida, he transferred to Louisiana Tech, where things started to click for Driskel.
His 2015 numbers: 281 of 450 (62.4%), 4033 yards (9.0 YPA), 27 TD, 7 INT.
Unfortunately, there is only one of Driskel's games on DraftBreakdown.com, shown below:
What you can see in that one game is good arm strength, a quick release, very good athleticism, and a guy who does a good job setting his feet before he throws. He absolutely has traits that will appeal to teams patient enough to give him time to develop. The knock on Driskel is his accuracy.
In the Eagles' case, we noted that it might be wise for them to double-dip on quarterbacks in this draft.
As long as you're developing one rookie quarterback, possibly in the early rounds, you may as well go ahead and try to develop two simultaneously. "Young QB2" can push "Young QB1" (and vice versa) from a competition standpoint, while being able to lean on each other from a learning perspective.
This draft, in particular, makes a ton of sense to go that route. While there are no sure-fire No.1 overall-type quarterback prospects, there could be as many as four taken in the first round, and around possibly 15 or more taken overall. It's not extremely top-heavy, but it is deep.
Driskel has similar size and many of the same physical attributes as Wentz, so the Eagles wouldn't have to drastically alter what they do offensively if they had the need to go from Wentz to Driskel in the future.
Obviously, attending school at Harvard isn't exactly the same as attending Arizona State. There is a heavy focus on academics, which means that players have to balance their time between studies and football. At other schools, the focus is more heavily slanted on football.
When asked what he needs to improve most as he enters the NFL, Toner said that he needs to get stronger. "Strength," he said. "That’s something I need to improve on. Everybody needs to get stronger to get into the league, but me especially. It’s not for a lack of effort. I work hard in the weight room. We all do at Harvard, but it’s just a lot of sleepless nights with homework. And nutrition wise, we don’t have a training table, so we eat at the regular dorms."
If the Eagles still believe in their sports science program post-Chip Kelly, Toner could be a player they begin to develop in the weight room. At Harvard, Toner played LT and RT, and he said that he has begun working on snapping in case NFL teams see him as a potential fit center. Doug Pederson has already stated that the Eagles will prioritize versatility in their offensive linemen, and Toner could be a late-round developmental player who can pay multiple positions.
And yes, I'm aware this is offensive lineman No. 4.
*Also, to note, I haven't watched a second of Toner or this next guy.
Who's Cody Core? Personally, I hadn't heard of him until the Combine. His numbers at Ole Miss were not impressive:
But... he's 6'3, he has 10 3/8" hands, he ran a 4.47 40, and he was a special teams standout. He could be a developmental project who can potentially make the roster by contributing on special teams, with free agent Seyi Ajirotutu potentially moving on.