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January 03, 2017

Eagles only 2017 NFL mock draft, version 1.0

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The Philadelphia Eagles' 2016 season is freshly over, and the Birds' front office will still have to decide on minor details such as who will stay or go on their own roster, as well as what free agents they wish to target this offseason. Still, with 114 days to go before the 2017 NFL Draft, that won't stop us from posting what everyone (OK, mostly everyone) loves to read... an Eagles-only mock draft.

Round 1: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee (6'3, 265)

Barnett is a shorter, thick, strong defensive end who reminds me a little of Brandon Graham. Barnett is equally effective against the run as he is as a pass rusher, and has been an impact player since his freshman year:

 Derek BarnettTackles Sacks TFL FF 
 201447 10 20.5 
 201544 10 12.5 
 201656 13 19 
 TOTAL147 33 52 

In just three seasons at Tennessee, Barnett broke the all-time career school sack record that was previously held by some guy named Reggie White. No big deal. Here are five of those sacks:

As we noted a month ago, Connor Barwin will count for $8,350,000 against the cap in 2017, $7,750,000 of which the Eagles can save if they cut or trade him, which feels like a no-brainer. The Eagles will need to add to their edge rusher stable, which should probably be a priority anyway, even at times when it's a position of strength.

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In Jim Schwartz's scheme, if the front four cannot create pressure without the help of blitzing, the rest of the defense suffers greatly. Here they would add a player who has proven he can get to the quarterback.

Round 2: Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan (5'10, 186)

Lewis is small, at 5'10, 186, and therefore he's likely to be drafted later than he should, but he is a great football player who could be a steal for someone. He would constitute excellent value in the second round in a draft loaded with excellent cornerback prospects. 

It's extremely difficult to get separation on Lewis, who is as sticky a cover corner as there is in college football. In 2015, Lewis had a ridiculous 20 pass breakups, many of which you can see here in a 14-minute highlight reel:

In 2016, despite opposing quarterbacks largely avoiding him, Lewis had 11 pass breakups. He also had this ridiculous interception:

Schwartz doesn't seem to care as much about size in his corners than other defensive coordinators. The most important attribute to Schwartz is competitiveness, and if you watch Lewis play, it's pretty easy to see that when the ball is in the air, he thinks it's his.

Round 3: Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington (6'2, 215)

Kupp's numbers at Eastern Washington were kinda decent: 

Cooper Kupp Rec Yards YPC TD 
 201393 1691 18.2 21 
 2014104 1431 13.8 16 
 2015114 1642 14.4 19 
 2016117 1700 14.5 17 
 TOTAL428 6464 15.1 73 

By comparison, former FCS player Jerry Rice had 301 catches for 4693 yards and 50 TDs during his four-year career at Mississippi Valley State. A highlight reel (if your retinas can handle Eastern Washington's awful red field):

Kupp isn't a burner, but as you can see in the highlight reel above, he makes catches that should otherwise be incompletions, and he's difficult to tackle once he has the ball in his hands. Assuming the Eagles sign a speed receiver in free agency (cough, DeSean, cough), Kupp could be a bigger receiver to complement him.

Ideally, this Cooper wide receiver isn't a Kenny Chesney fan.

Round 4: Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo (5'11, 225)

Over his four-year career at Toledo, Hunt has racked up almost 5,000 rushing yards:

 Kareem HuntRush Yards YPC TD 
 2013137 866 6.3 
 2014205 1631 8.0 16 
 2015178 973 5.5 12 
 2016262 1475 5.6 10 
 TOTAL782 4945 6.3 44 

On those 782 career carries, Hunt has a grand total of one fumble, which was in 2013. That's amazing.

Through his first three seasons at Toledo, Hunt wasn't much of a threat as a receiver, but as a senior he caught 41 passes for 403 yards and a TD. 

At 5'11, 225, Hunt is a short, bulky back with good speed and ability to break tackles. However, what really stands out when watching him is his balance:

In a running class loaded with talent, Hunt could potentially be available a little later in the draft than he should be. If he's still sitting there in the fourth round, that would be outstanding value.

Round 5: Erik Magnuson, OT/OG, Michigan (6'5, 305)

Doug Pederson loves him some versatile offensive linemen, and with good reason. In 2016, Pederson's offense suffered an assortment of injuries to his offensive line, plus a suspension to Lane Johnson. As a result, the Eagles were forced to shuffle their offensive line, often playing linemen like Allen Barbre, Isaac Seumalo, and Matt Tobin at multiple positions.

At Michigan, Magnuson was slated to be the Wolverine's left tackle, but that never happened. Instead, he started at guard and right tackle during his college career (RT in 2016), while getting reps at left tackle in practice. He is also thought to have the requisite intelligence to play center. Magnuson even played a little tight end, changing his jersey number for a short time to No. 81. He was used mainly as an extra blocker at TE, similarly to the way the Eagles used Tobin and Seumalo in jumbo sets this season.

Magnuson could be a player of interest in the middle rounds who provides good depth at multiple positions, with his ceiling being a starter at RT.

*NOTE*: Before you complain that the Eagles have two fourth round picks (the extra one coming from the Browns in the Carson Wentz trade), they do not. If the Browns receive a compensatory pick in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft when they are awarded at the owners' meetings, the Eagles will receive that pick, which would be at the tail end of the fourth round. If the Browns are not awarded a fourth-round compensatory pick, the Eagles will receive the Browns' fifth-round pick.

In other words, the Eagles a guaranteed a fifth-round pick that has a chance to move up a few spots.

Round 5: Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State (5'10, 190)

Kazee is a lesser known player on a very good San Diego State team who does a great job attacking the football in the air. Over the last two seasons, he has 15 interceptions. His career numbers:

Damontae Kazee Tackles (TFL)INT PBU FF 
2013 41 (3)
2014 58 (4)12 
2015 75 (5.5)
2016 46 (3) 
TOTAL 220 (15.5) 17 29 

But Kazee isn't just a ballhawk. Watch how he attacks ball carriers in the run game:

Schwartz may (wrongfully) see Jalen Mills as an outside corner. If so, the Eagles will still need to find help in the slot in addition to outside corners, as Ron Brooks will be returning from a serious injury. Kazee happens to have the exact same height and weight (5'10, 190) as Brooks. 

Even if Brooks can make a full return, the Eagles were forced to move Malcolm Jenkins to a slot corner position because they did not have enough cornerback depth to fill that role when Brooks went down. That negated Jenkins' impact as a playmaker to some degree this season.

Round 6: Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB, Tennessee (6'0, 225)

Reeves-Maybin is undersized at 6'0, 225, which seems to be less of a concern to Schwartz than it was in the Chip Kelly regime, much like at the corner position, as noted above. If you'll recall, the Eagles signed Schwartz favorite Stephen Tulloch, who is 5'11.

Reeves-Maybin's skill set more closely resembles Mychal Kendricks, although his enthusiasm for the game mirrors Tulloch's.

In high school, Reeves-Maybin was a stud running back, and in his recruiting profile, his position was categorized as "athlete." Tennessee initially played him at safety, before moving him linebacker.

In 2015, Reeves-Maybin led the Volunteers with 105 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and was second on the team with 6 sacks. He's a fun player to watch. He is a terrific blitzer, he does an outstanding job of recognizing and blowing up screens, and his play speed on the field is obvious.

So why might he be available this late? In 2016, Reeves-Maybin suffered an assortment of injuries, including a serious shoulder injury that made him miss nearly the entirety of the season. Obviously, he will be a player of interest during medical checks at the 2017 NFL Combine.

Here's a short highlight reel:

Kendricks' role in 2016 was limited to the base defense, and his snaps were way down. This offseason, the Eagles could explore a trade of Kendricks, if other teams around the league still see potential in him. Even if Kendricks stays for the 2017 season, the Eagles will need added depth at linebacker, and Kendricks' cap hit will be too much to justify in 2018, barring an unexpected jump in production. Reeves-Maybin could be a far cheaper replacement.

Round 7: Sam Rogers, FB, Virginia Tech (5'10, 228)

Doug Pederson wants a fullback on his roster.

"Down the road, as we go, if we can develop a fullback at some point, we will do that," said Pederson earlier this season. "We're constantly looking at that position, not only around the National Football League but on our roster."

Rogers is an interesting player. While he doesn't have great size at 5'10, 228, he was a useful cog in Virginia Tech's offense, as Rogers has 72 catches for 802 yards (11.1 yards per catch), and 6 TDs over his career with the Hokies. Here's his game against Tennessee to get a sampling of how they use him. Note that they lined him up all over the formation.

Rogers is a very good athlete for a fullback. He's very good in pass protection, keeping himself in between blitzers and the quarterback, and while he's not a punishing run blocker like Lorenzo Neal, he does a great job of moving his feet to get in the right position to block, more often than not getting the job done.

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