March 23, 2023
On Monday we published our third Philadelphia Eagles-only mock draft of the offseason. If you missed that, go read that first, please and thank you. Done? Cool. Today we'll take a peek around at some of the national guys and see who they have going to the Birds at 10th and 30th overall.
Pick 10: Lukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa: The Eagles always focus on the line of scrimmage, and Van Ness has the versatility to play inside or outside. Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox both were re-signed this offseason, but they’re playing on one-year deals.
Pick 30: Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Edge, Kansas State: The Eagles double down on defensive linemen. Anudike-Uzomah is a gifted edge rusher and posted excellent numbers over the last two seasons. GM Howie Roseman doesn’t believe you can have too many pass rushers.
JimmySays: I haven't watched anything more than just highlight reels of Van Ness, so I don't yet have a strong opinion of his worthiness of the 10th overall pick. I will say though that if the Eagles draft an edge rusher at 10, they're probably not taking another one at 30. Even if you're projecting Brandon Graham to retire in the near future, how is that guy getting on the field behind Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, and then whatever edge you take at 10, assuming that guy pans out?
Pick 10: Peter Skoronski OT/OG, Northwestern: Center Jason Kelce will be back, but the Eagles just lost right guard Isaac Seumalo in free agency. Could they take the prospect some teams consider the best guard in the class? Skoronski excelled at left tackle for the Wildcats, but his arms are slightly shorter than average for tackles (32 1/4 inches), so he could instead move inside. Philadelphia drafted interior lineman Cam Jurgens in Round 2 last year; he's the favorite to replace Seumalo, but taking Skoronski would ensure versatility and competition. The Eagles haven't shied away in previous years from trying to stack strength on strength in the draft.
I also thought about defensive line here, as Adetomiwa Adebawore (Northwestern) or Lukas Van Ness (Iowa) could fit next to 2022 first-rounder Jordan Davis. Fletcher Cox is back for one year, but Javon Hargrave left for a huge deal in San Francisco, so Philadelphia could address the position with its choice at No. 30 overall.
Pick 30: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh: I still see Kancey as the ideal choice here, slotting in next to 2022 first-rounder Jordan Davis for years to come and solidifying the Philadelphia defensive line. General manager Howie Roseman and the Eagles, who have two first-rounders thanks to a deal with with New Orleans last year, believe in investing heavily in the defensive line, so this is a pick to continue the trend.
Kancey had an elite workout at the combine, though he's not going to be perfect for every team. At 6-foot-1, 281 pounds, he needs to go to a team that plays a 4-3 and allows him to penetrate past interior linemen and create chaos at the snap. Keep an eye on safety for this pick, as C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps are both gone.
#JimmySays: It's fine and good if a guy like Skoronski can play guard in the short-term, but if he doesn't have high upside as a offensive tackle down the line, then he is not a justifiable option at pick 10. Kancey at 30 would be good value.
Pick 10: Myles Murphy, DE, Clemson: They are bringing back Brandon Graham on a one-year deal, but they need a young pass-rusher to be ready in a year to take his place. Myles Murphy has those tools.
Pick 30: Brian Branch, S, Alabama: They lost Chauncey Gardner-Johnson to the Lions in free agency, so Brian Branch would be the ideal replacement. He can play down in the slot and also at safety like Gardner-Johnson has done for the Eagles.
#JimmySays: I expect the Eagles sign a veteran safety, but they could still add another on the first two days of the draft. Branch does indeed offer a similar skill set as CJGJ.
Pick 10: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon: Howie Roseman’s M.O. with a pick this high is to target a player or two for a small trade-up to ensure he lands a difference-maker, especially with expectations of not picking this early again in the near-term future. But neither Anderson nor Carter fell within range, leaving the Eagles to choose between a cornerback, an edge rusher like Nolan Smith or another offensive lineman to place in the Jeff Stoutland University apprenticeship program.
It might look like the cornerback need is lessened by the re-signing of James Bradberry and extension for Darius Slay, but both players are over 30, and Slay is not assured of being on the team in 2024. Enter Gonzalez, the top-rated cornerback on Dane Brugler’s board, who backed up an impressive college career with a standout performance at the combine.
Pick 30: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson: The Eagles always prioritize the lines of scrimmage, and Bresee is one of the top defensive tackles available. Early in the draft process, you could find him in the top half of the first round in many mock drafts. That’s because the former top recruit has the type of tools to be a difference-maker. He’s 6-foot-6 and 298 pounds and runs a 4.86-second 40-yard dash. His college production was tempered by injury, including a torn ACL in 2021 and a kidney infection in 2022. But the Eagles could be enamored by the upside and see a potential long-term complement to Jordan Davis.
#JimmySays: This was a mock draft in which of the The Athletic's NFL beat writers made the picks for the teams they cover. Bo made pick 10 and made pick 30 for the Eagles. Both make sense. As Bo notes, cornerback isn't the immediate need it was perceived to be a couple weeks ago, but it remains a long-term need.
As for Bresee, it's worth noting that the Eagles have targeted devalued players in free agency with injury histories. Bresee is perhaps a draft version of that.
Pick 10: Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia: Smith is a bit undersized but he makes up for it with truly elite explosiveness off the edge. The Eagles have had a lot of success living by the maxim that there’s no such thing as too many good pass rushers, and they grab a guy here who can figure into the edge rotation early in his career.
Pick 30: Brian Branch, S, Alabama: With C.J. Gardner-Johnson departing in free agency, the Eagles look to further bolster their defensive backs group. Branch is undersized but makes up for it with incredible instincts and versatility.
#JimmySays: I too had Smith as the Eagles' pick at 10th overall in my Eagles-only mock draft, version 3.0, so congratulations to Danny Kelly for knowing ball. I also almost had Branch at my pick at 30, but ultimately concluded that they just value corners a hell of a lot more than safeties. I do like Branch's fit though, for the reasons noted.
Pick 10: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas: A three-down back with his talent and speed – Robinson clocked a 4.46 40 at the combine while showing off velvety soft hands – would have been a surefire top-five selection 20 years ago ... but might still be the first top-10 RB since Saquon Barkley in 2018. Admittedly, taking Robinson here doesn't seem like a typical move by Philly EVP/GM Howie Roseman, who frequently opts for linemen atop the board. But does it really feel like RBs Kenny Gainwell, Boston Scott and (oft-injured) Rashaad Penny are going to offset the loss of departed Miles Sanders? The NFC champs very much seem to be in their championship window, and a team that ran the ball more than any club in the NFL save two could very much use a bell cow who had more than 3,300 yards from scrimmage over the past two seasons while averaging 6.7 yards per touch for at least the next four or five years. Robinson could well be the missing Lombardi piece here.
Pick 30: Felix Anudike-Uzomah, DE, Kansas State: For starters, this feels like the kind of pick Roseman typically swaps for future capital. But Anudike-Uzomah could be among the alternate options for a team that values quality and depth in the trenches. He had 19½ sacks and 25½ TFLs over the past two seasons and could up the ante for a pass-rushing corps that hasn't gotten much from Derek Barnett in recent seasons.
#JimmySays: We almost make it through without someone mocking Robinson to the Eagles at 10.
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