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January 10, 2023

2023 Eagles mock draft: Stacking up on linemen

In a new mock draft, the Eagles are targeting a Clemson defensive lineman with their top-10 pick.

With the Eagles on the bye and unaware of who their divisional round playoff opponent will be, let's have some fun. 

The Birds are in the ultra-rare position of being a Super Bowl contender while also having a top-10 pick in their back pocket. This franchise set up to compete both now and later. It's the best of both worlds: watching meaningful late-January football while also getting to know the best of the best when it comes to the prospects for the 2023 NFL Draft. 

Armed with two first-round picks, this will be a buzzy draft cycle for the Eagles. I'm dusting off the mock draft simulator and getting after it.

My overall draft philosophy for this mock is as follows...

Know why the Eagles have almost always been good in the 21st century? They prioritize the trenches. Coaches have come and gone, but the offensive line has perennially been one of the best in football for two decades. Their defensive line continues to be stacked with big names who put up big numbers. 

Though Howie Roseman first became general manager of the Eagles in 2010, he had been with the team since 2000 in at least some sort of front office role. The beginnings of the Joe Banner-Andy Reid partnership created an organization edict that was built on getting the best linemen possible. Whether it was Chip Kelly or Doug Pederson or now Nick Sirianni at head coach, that draft ideology continued. 

Since 2000, the Eagles have made 20 first-round selections. 13 of those picks have been either an offensive lineman, a defensive lineman or a pass rusher. They wear their draft plans on their sleeves. Time to get after it...

Note: I used Pro Football Network's Mock Draft Simulator

Round 1, Pick 10: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

6'5", 300 lbs

This, obviously, is the pick the Eagles received in a pre-draft trade with the Saints last year. When will New Orleans stop trading with the Birds? C.J. Gardner-Johnson says hi!

Bresee was formerly the No. 1 high school recruit in the Class of 2020. He didn't quite live up to that hype for the Tigers, but he's still going Round 1.

Nick Sirianni and the entire coaching staff have harped on the need to be "multiple." That includes getting flexible players who can handle a lot of their plate and perform in a host of different situations. Bresee has done work as three-technique DT (lining up on the outside shoulder of an offensive guard). Jonathan Gannon's defense doesn't always utilize that with its varied fronts, as we saw with Fletcher Cox's criticism of the defensive scheme in 2021. Still, the versatility and pure physical traits give me confidence he can succeed wherever Gannon (or a successor if he gets a head coaching gig) lines him up. 

Here's him getting a sack as a three-tech on a quick stunt against Justin Fields and Ohio State:

Lining up on the outside shoulder of the offensive tackle as the five-tech lineman, here's Bresee stopping the run against that same Buckeyes team:

Bresee has missed some time due to injury at Clemson, lowering his counting stats (nine sacks and 15 tackles for loss in 28 games over three years), but whenever he's out there, he's causing havoc. 

If a guy played in the SEC, Big 10 or at Clemson, I have no qualms drafting him. 

Round 1, Pick 31: O'Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida 

6'5", 347 lbs

If there's a pick that Eagles fans have an issue with here, I'm sure it's this one. 

I get that taking a guard in the first-round isn't the sexiest pick in the world and there are other avenues they could pursue that would be fine, but go back to my linemen takes. What I said is true.

There's a splitting of the hairs when it comes to first-round picks that are in the 30s, too. The Birds drafted Landon Dickerson with the 37th pick in 2021. That pick was uninspiring to people because it was a high second rounder and he played along the interior offensive line. Well, he was named a Pro Bowl starter in his second NFL season and the Eagles have a top-three offense in the sport.

I'd say that worked itself out! 

For his final collegiate season, Torrence transferred from Louisiana to Florida. The jump in competition level didn't bother him at all. He was named First-Team All-SEC and a consensus All-American. He was a mauler in a run game for a Gators team that averaged more than 200 yards on the ground per game.

If Isaac Seumalo walks in free agency, the Eagles have a hole at right guard. The offensive line doesn't magically stay good forever even though o-line coach Jeff Stoutland seems like a wizard. Add big-time talent up front and this offense is going to keep humming. 

By the way... you know Howie loves his Florida guys. 

Round 2, Pick 63: Mekhi Garner, CB, LSU

6'2", 218 lbs

My gut tells me that that James Bradberry will be gone in 2023. That's a blow for a guy who'll likely be an All-Pro choice. A new starting corner is needed.

Garner, another guy who transferred from Louisiana and then held his own in the big bad SEC, is huge for a corner at 6'2" and 218 lbs. He brings a physicality to his game:

While he'd work in both coverages, I'm leaning towards zone being a better fit. That may work to the benefit of Gannon's scheme or whatever DC takes over for Gannon and continues to build upon his system (defensive pass game coordinator Dennard Wilson maybe?). 

Still, with that size, he should be able to make do in man-to-man press coverage, too. 

Round 3, Pick 95: Zach Evans, RB, Ole Miss

5'11", 195 lbs

I have doubts Evans will ever be a true No. 1 go-to back, but if Miles Sanders is playing elsewhere this fall, the Birds need reinforcements in the backfield. Evans, a transfer from TCU, rushed for 936 yards on 6.5 yards per carry in the SEC in 2022. 

He runs angry:

Bowling ball mode:

Everyone's uncle who wears a Seth Joyner jersey on Sundays will adore this guy. He's not much of a receiver (30 catches in 28 career games), but would mesh well in a running back rotation that includes Kenny Gainwell and Boston Scott. 

Round 7, Pick 197: Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, UCLA

6'1", 205 lbs

The Eagles finally draft a Chip Kelly quarterback! Everyone's 2015 dream comes true. 

Gardner Minshew is gone this offseason. Ian Book is currently the QB3 "developmental" guy. The Eagles can, and will, do better than that. As we've seen over the last handful of weeks, backup QBs will forever be important in Philadelphia and the organization knows this. I could see them going after a vet in free agency and looking for an upgrade down the depth chart on Day 3 of the draft.

Thomson-Robinson is going to take time to acclimate to the pro game, but he has pure talent. If the offensive complexion looked different with Minshew running the show against the Cowboys and the Saints without Jalen Hurts, the Eagles may be able to replicate some of the things Hurts does well with DTR. 

DTR is an improving passer and posted a career-best completion percentage of 69.6% this past year to go along with 27 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. He's also a force in the run game, racking up 645 yards and 12 TDs on the ground in 2022. 

He showcases Hurts vibes on this one: 

Maybe the Birds sign a vet QB this offseason who can be QB2 for a year or two and then Thomson-Robinson can step into that role in 2024 or 2025. 

If nothing else, he'd make the dull affair that is a preseason game entertaining. 

Round 7, Pick 227: Riley Moss, CB, Iowa

6'1", 193 lbs

Moss is a bigger style corner like Garner. Iowa played a lot of zone defensively, which would bode well for his fit on the Birds. 

It's not as if you're expecting a Round 7 guy to be a big-time defensive presence, of course. On that note, the Eagles' special teams unit stinks. I've seen Big 10 DBs come to the pros and excel on special teams. Maybe Moss could do that at least while providing depth on the back end. 

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