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March 14, 2017

Eagles only 2017 NFL mock draft, version 3.0

Eagles NFL

The NFL's free agency period has been underway for four days now, and the Philadelphia Eagles' offseason plan has come a little more into focus. Since the Birds don't have much in the way of salary cap space left, any roster moves from here on out will be "bargain bin" guys, unlikely to affect their strategy in the draft.

And so, let's do another Eagles only seven-round mock draft. In case you missed our Eagles only mock draft version 1.0, or our Eagles only mock draft 2.0, you have some catching up to do. To note, we won't repeat any players that appeared previously.

Round 1: John Ross, WR, Washington (5'11, 188)

A few weeks ago, we noted that the Eagles' focus on free agency and the draft at the wide receiver position would be on speed. Sure enough, the Eagles poked around a bit on speedsters DeSean Jackson and Kenny Stills, before ultimately settling on Torrey Smith.

While Smith was a nice pickup and an upgrade over what the Eagles have on the outside, I suspect the Eagles don't want to stop there. The Eagles could look to find a long-term playmaker with top-end speed for their offense.

John Ross has top-end speed, and then some. At the 2017 NFL Combine, he ran an absolutely blazing 4.22, breaking the previous record of 4.24, which was held by Chris Johnson.

With that kind of speed, opposing defenses have no choice but to respect the prospect of getting beaten over the top, which would open things up underneath for guys like Alshon Jeffery, Jordan Matthews, and Zach Ertz.

MORE ON THE EAGLES: Eagles release QB Chase Daniel | Report: Eagles lose free agent DT Bennie Logan to the Chiefs | At long last, Philly has a team exec not trying to ram ‘Trust the Process’ B.S. down our collective throats | Eagles agree to terms with QB Nick Foles on two-year deal | Report: Eagles restructure Zach Ertz's contract | What they're saying about the Eagles: Free agent wide receivers edition

So, great, he can run fast. Can he play football?

Yes. In 2016, Ross had 81 catches for 1150 yards and 17 TDs. While his calling card is deep speed, Ross also has good hands, he can work the short-to-intermediate routes, and get yards after the catch. He was also a dangerous kick returner, taking four kicks to the house in his career at Washington. He's hardly a one-trick pony.

A highlight reel:

On the downside, Ross has an extensive history of injuries. 

The Eagles would have to feel comfortable with Ross' injury history to take him at 14, although I'd say a guy who can run a 4.22 probably has healthy legs. Ross will have shoulder surgery today to repair a torn labrum that will keep him on the shelf for a substantial period of time (roughly four-to-six months), but he should be ready for the regular season, and perhaps sooner.

Round 2: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida (6'0, 199)

While Ross is a player who saw his draft stock rise after his impressive Combine performance, Florida's Teez Tabor will see his drop substantially. Tabor ran a highly disappointing 4.62 40 at the Combine, which will turn a lot of teams off, and will probably keep him out of the first round.

His spider chart:


Still, Tabor can play, and he has the prerequisite confidence that Jim Schwartz loves in his corners.

"I feel like I'm the best overall player in the draft, not just the best corner," Tabor said when asked if he's the best corner in the draft at the Combine. "That just is the confidence I have in myself and my ability to play the game of football."

When asked why he came out a year early, Tabor said, "This has been a dream of mine since I was four years old. I always wanted to play in the NFL, and I was two-time first-team All-SEC, somewhere around 30 starts. And when you're the best at what you do, it's time to move up a level."

I don't know if that's being confident or cocky or delusional, but Schwartz will like it. A highlight reel (note what he does at the 1:31 mark):

Tabor was initially thought to be a potential play for the Eagles at 14, but they might actually be able to get him at 43.

Round 3: Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn (6'4, 304)

In watching a lot of SEC offensive linemen and running backs over the last three years during our "Grocery Shopping" series, one player who always seemed to flash on the other side of the ball was Adams. 

The reason he is so noticeable when you're not necessarily watching him is because his get-off at the snap is extremely impressive. His explosive first step allows him to get the upper hand to begin most snaps.

In Jim Schwartz's attack-style scheme, that quick first step is a major asset. While Adams has a ways to go in becoming a more polished player, Adams' impressive agility for such a big man is a good start, and he has a high ceiling. Watch this big boy run:

On the downside, Adams ends up on the ground far, faaaaaar too often. For example, if you watch his game against LSU last year, he's on the ground at least 15 times, which is maddening.

Still, at a minimum, Adams can be disruptive on the interior of the defensive line on passing downs. He could perhaps split time with the run-stopping Beau Allen.

Round 4: Desmond King, S, Iowa (5'10, 201)

King was once thought of as maaayyyybe a first-round pick, but after getting roasted all week at the Senior Bowl, it's fairly clear that he's going to have to move from cornerback to safety in the NFL. His height will also turn some teams off as an early-round possibility.

King has good ball skills, as he racked up 13 pass breakups and tied for second in the NCAA with 8 INTs in 2015. He had three picks (one for a pick-six) and seven pass breakups in 2016. He is also thought to be very smart, with outstanding football instincts. A highlight reel:

King was also Iowa's primary kick and punt returner, putting up decent numbers, but never taking one back for a touchdown. I don't think you'd view him as an answer at returner, but he'd be another guy who can do it.

With Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod locked in on the back end for the foreseeable future, King wouldn't necessarily have a home there as a starter, but he could be a good slot corner, while also serving as depth at safety.

Round 4: James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh (6'1, 233)

With the Eagles certain to release Ryan Mathews whenever he is able to pass a physical, Doug Pederson's offense could use a bigger back to add to a small group that includes Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles.

After a 2014 season in which he rushed for 1765 yards and 26 TDs, in Pitt's first game in 2015 Conner tore his MCL and was lost for the season. In December of 2015 he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. In May of 2016, Conner announced that he beat cancer.

His career numbers:

James Conner Rush Yards YPC TD 
 2013146 799 5.5 
 2014298 1765 5.9 26 
 201577 9.6 
 2016216 1092 5.1 16 

In a class full of bigger backs, Conner is among the biggest at 6'1, 233. In 2016, Conner also had his most productive season as a receiver, catching 21 passes for 302 yards and 1 TD. While he's not a player you're going to move around the formation to try to exploit mismatches against linebackers, he's competent enough as a receiver to catch screens and checkdowns.

A highlight reel:

Conner could be a short-yardage complement to Smallwood and Sproles.

Round 5: Marquez White, CB, Florida State (6'0, 194)

White was very good in 2015 at his corner spot in the Seminoles' defense. On the season, he allowed a grand total of just nine completions, 131 yards and no touchdowns on 28 total targets. In 2016, while he was still good, he didn't have quite as much success, as was overshadowed by sophomore Tarvarus McFadden, who led the nation with eight interceptions. White's numbers the last two years, via

 Marquez WhiteTargeted Comp Yards TD-INT 
 201528 131 0-1 
 201641 20 258 2-2 
 TOTAL69 29 389 2-3 

According to PFF after Week 10 in 2015, White was first in the country in yards allowed per coverage snap

The former four-star recruit is shutting people down. On 316 coverage snaps, he has allowed only 104 yards this season. There were eleven cornerbacks that gave up more than 104 yards last week. That is good for first in the country on a per snap basis. He also ranks first in coverage snaps per reception at 31.6. Opposing quarterbacks have an NFL-style rating of 31.4 when White is targeted. 

White's tackling will have to improve, as CFBfilmroom has him down for 27 tackles and 7 missed tackles in 2016. That won't be acceptable in the pros. Still, in a Florida State secondary that has been absolutely loaded with great defensive backs, White is flying under the radar a bit, but he could be a good coverage corner at the next level. 

Round 6: George Kittle, TE, Iowa (6'4, 247)

I only discovered this kid recently because he ran a 4.52 at the Combine, but he can play. Kittle has good hands, and obviously, good speed at 4.52. But in watching him, look at this kid's tenacity as a blocker. Here's his game last year against NDSU. Watch him drive defenders into the ground:

Kittle is only eight pounds lighter than Brent Celek. With Celek likely to be a cap casualty next offseason, Kittle is a guy the Eagles can try to bulk up a bit to be an inline blocker in 2018 and beyond.

Round 7: Dan Skipper, OT, Arkansas (6'10, 309)

The Eagles certainly aren't hurting for interior offensive line depth at the moment, but they could perhaps use some extra depth at tackle. In 2018, Jason Peters will probably be gone, with Lane Johnson moving over to LT and perhaps Halapoulivaati Vaitai sliding in at RT. 

At Arkansas, Skipper played both at LT and RT, which could make him useful as a swing tackle behind Johnson and Vaiati. Also, at 6'10, he would have some usefulness on the field goal block team. Over his college career, Skipper had 7 blocked kicks. Here's a blocked kick at the end of regulation against TCU that forced overtime, and an eventual Razorback win.

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