February 06, 2017
The Philadelphia Eagles' 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. But, with the 2016 season officially in the books, what the hell, let's do another Eagles only mock draft. We'll try not to bombard you with these - maybe once a month.
In case you missed our Eagles only mock draft version 1.0, you have some catching up to do.
Ever since the 2002 NFL Draft, when they surprisingly took Lito Sheppard, Michael Lewis, and Sheldon Brown with their first three draft picks when they already had Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor still on their roster, the Eagles have drafted 25 defensive backs. Those 25 draft picks were, uh, not so productive. The full list:
By my count, the Eagles have gotten nine combined seasons in which those players were clear, regular starters on the Eagles' defense. If you want to include slot corner as a starter, then go ahead an add three more for Brandon Boykin.
The point here is that the Eagles haven't found a home-grown, quality defensive back in the draft in almost 15 years, and as the chart above shows, they sure have tried.
The other thing they haven't done since 2002 is take a defensive back in the first round of a draft. This could be the year, as there could be a lot of high-quality corners that come off the board in round one of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Humphrey has great athleticism, and at 6'1, 196, he has great size. Is he physical? You tell me. Here's Humphrey's game against USC this season. It's a quick, two-minute video. Give it a watch:
I think I can see Jim Schwartz being interested in that guy.
There's some logic in the folks who believe a corner with similar ability could be had in round 2, so you may as well just wait for one there. There's also a lot of risk in that. In my view, the Eagles should not let an abundance of cornerback talent stop them from drafting one early, if indeed the top player on their board in round 1 is a corner.
A few weeks ago, we reported that the Eagles are considering moving on from Jason Kelce, which would prompt Isaac Seumalo to slide in at center in his place. We did not mention this in our report, but the Eagles are also potentially moving on from Allen Barbre, which would come as a surprise to some since Barbre can play a number of positions and isn't exactly breaking the bank.
If indeed the Eagles go that route, Feeney is a player who could be an out-of-the-box starter at LG.
In 2014 and 2015, Indiana got excellent production from their lead running backs:
The Indiana offensive line has had a lot to do with that, particularly Feeney. You can see a good film breakdown of Feeney by Alex Robbins of Crimson Quarry.
Feeney is among the best guard prospects in the country, and would allow the Eagles to get younger along an offensive line that is going to require several new starters over the next two years.
Smoot is a less heralded player in this year's draft class because his college team stunk, but he is an explosive, penetrating defensive end whose skill set would fit in well in Jim Schwartz's defense.
Smoot's numbers in 2016 weren't eye-popping. He had 56 tackles (15 for loss), 5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. A season ago, he had 40 tackles (15 for loss), 8 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles. Schwartz likes defensive linemen who can consistently find their way into opposing backfield and make tackles for loss, putting the offense far behind the sticks. Because Illinois was often getting blown out, Smoot didn't get as many opportunities to pin his ears back and get after the quarterback, but he has the ability to do it.
The Eagles will need help at defensive end, as they are almost certain to move on from Connor Barwin this offseason.
Here's Smoot's game last season against Nebraska, where he didn't have a sack, but made a slew of disruptive plays that won't show up in the stat sheet:
To note, Eagles scouts showed interest in Smoot at the Senior Bowl.
Gallman was the running complement to Deshaun Watson and Clemson's passing attack. He's a little leaner than preferred, and thus he's not much of a pile-pusher, but I love the way he runs. He is a physical, determined runner who breaks a lot of tackles in space, and looks to dish out punishment to would-be tacklers. His career numbers:
Gallman's yards per carry are low, but somewhat forgivable considering the level of competition Clemson saw. In the highlight reel below, watch his impressive cutting ability in the hole:
With 65 career receptions, Gallman also has some receiving ability. He does a nice job catching the ball with his hands and then immediately transitioning as a runner. That has to be a skill set that will intrigue the Eagles in the screen game. He and Wendell Smallwood could give the Eagles a nice 1-2 punch in the running game once Darren Sproles retires.
Despite his small size, Elder is a physical tackler who also contributes on special teams for the Hurricanes. Watch him hit:
In 2016, Elder had 76 tackles (4.5 for loss), 3 sacks, 1 INT, and 12 pass breakups. In 2015, he had 41 tackles (4 for loss), 2 sacks, 2 INTs, and 11 pass breakups.
Last offseason, the Eagles brought in Ron Brooks, a physical tackler at the slot corner spot who also contributes on special teams. Over the next two years, Brooks' cap numbers will be $2.1 million and $2.4 million. The Eagles would save $1.6 million if they move on from him this offseason. I expect them to do that. Elder could be a potential replacement for Brooks, especially if the Eagles plan to eventually move Jalen Mills to safety.
The slot corner spot -- not just outside corner -- is a very important need area for the Eagles, by the way. To begin, the Eagles' lack of depth at slot corner was exposed last season when Malcolm Jenkins was forced to drop down into the slot, negating his big play ability on the back end to some degree. Also, if you look around at the rest of the NFC East, the Cowboys, Giants and Redskins have three very good slot receivers in Cole Beasley, Sterling Shepard, and Jamison Crowder, not the mention that Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham often line up in the slot as well.
*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.
Over his college career Switzer has seven punt return touchdowns, most of which are shown here:
A list of the NCAA career leaders for punt return touchdowns:
Switzer also had two punt return touchdowns called back over his career. After a while, opposing teams simply stopped kicking to him.
As a receiver, Switzer has always been a contributor in the regular offense, but has not put up big numbers by any stretch until this season:
Darren Sproles has said multiple times that he believes 2017 will be his last year in the NFL. Switzer could be a guy who takes over for Sproles as the team's primary punt returner, while also providing more depth at receiver. He could also potentially give the Eagles a slot receiver they can rely on in 2018 and beyond if they are unable to get a new deal done with Jordan Matthews.
*NOTE*: Yes, I'm aware the Eagles' receivers stink, so you may be wondering why one doesn't appear here until the fifth round. Well, two reasons:
Roberts was a touchdown machine for Toledo last season, catching 16 TD passes for the Rockets. That was sixth in the nation among all players and first among tight ends. In fact, the next-closest tight end to Roberts for TD receptions had eight. Roberts' numbers the last two years:
Roberts isn't the fastest guy, so you're not going to get many big plays down the field from him, but obviously, has been very good in the red zone for Toledo. The Rockets also often used Roberts on occasion in something of a fullback-type role out of the shotgun, in which he'll line up two yards behind the offensive line and lead block for Kareem Hunt. There's some good, some bad with Roberts' blocking, but there's something to work with there. In pass protection, Roberts struggled a bit at the Senior Bowl, but he certainly has the size to hold up as a blocker if the Eagles can coach him up.
With Brent Celek potentially heading into his last year with the team, the Eagles could look to add a bigger tight end that they can develop as a blocker and red zone threat.
In the 2016 NFL Draft, the Eagles selected versatile offensive lineman Isaac Seumalo out of Oregon State in the third round. In the 2017 draft, they could have interest in another versatile Oregon State offensive lineman in Harlow.
In his freshman season in 2013, Harlow started nine games at RT. In 2014, he started the first five games at RT and the final seven at LT. In 2015, he started all seven games he played at LT before being lost for the season with a very serious ankle injury. Prior to the start of the 2016 season, Harlow considered redshirting this past season, but he eventually opted to play his senior season instead at less than 100 percent.
Throughout his career at Oregon State, Harlow has practiced at all five positions along the offensive line, and probably projects to guard or center at the next level. He is the son of former New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders offensive tackle Pat Harlow, who was selected 11th overall in the 1991 NFL Draft.
Harlow will be a player of interest during medical checks at the Combine, but he possesses the versatility the Eagles crave from their offensive linemen and would add depth to a unit that may move on from both Jason Kelce and Allen Barbre this offseason.
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