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March 06, 2023

Eagles-only 2023 mock draft, version 2.0

In the latest NFL mock draft for the Eagles, the Birds go for Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez with the 10th pick.

Eagles NFL
030623ChristianGonzalez Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports

Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez

As you're probably aware, the Philadelphia Eagles have two first-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, and six picks total. While it's likely that Howie Roseman will move up and/or down the board as he usually does, we'll play it straight here and simply act as though the Eagles will stick and pick. In case you missed our Eagles-only mock draft 1.0, you can find that here. Let's just get right to version 2.0, post-Combine edition.

Round 1, pick 10: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (6'1, 197)

Gonzalez is a long, 6'1 3/8" corner who originally enrolled at Colorado but transferred to Oregon. In 2022, his production popped, with 50 tackles, 4 INTs, and 7 pass breakups. He can play physical man coverage at the line of scrimmage, and he also does a nice job of reading quarterbacks' eyes when in zone. This dude is good: 

We profiled Gonzalez back in December in our prospects series, and at the time I felt that he had a chance to go top 10 with a strong Combine performance. Well, he ran a 4.38 40, he vertical jumped 41.5", and he looked smooth in the drills. The question now is whether or not he makes it to pick 10.

But whether it's Gonzalez or Illinois' Devon Witherspoon, there's a good chance that the Eagles can sit and wait for one of the top two corners in the draft (apologies to PSU's Joey Porter) at pick 10, and be perfectly content with either player. The Eagles have major needs at corner, seeing as James Bradberry is highly likely to leave in free agency and Darius Slay just turned 32.

Oh, and it was recently revealed that the Eagles proposed to add jersey No. 0, which Gonzalez wears. Coincidence? 🤷‍♂️

Round 1, pick 30: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh (6'1, 281)

The first thing you'll notice about Kancey is that he is a 6'1, 281 defensive tackle, which makes him incredibly undersized for the position, and vulnerable to be moved at times in the run game. The tradeoff is that his speed and quickness allow him to absolutely dust interior offensive linemen as a pass rusher. When you watch Kancey's highlight reel, he has so many instantaneous wins that it looks like somebody "picked the right play" in Tecmo Bowl.

Over the last two seasons, Kancey has 64 tackles, 14.5 sacks, and 27.5 tackles for loss in 23 games, but he won't be for everyone. Teams looking for a three-down player at DT will be scared off by his size. However, for a team like the Eagles that has proven that they value depth at the position and will use premium picks for interior linemen not expected to be immediate three-down defenders, Kancey makes a lot of sense as a sub-package interior player in high-leverage situations that the team can also try to develop on the edge.

Even as a run defender, Kancey's deficiencies will probably be overstated. As you can see in the video above, he produces tackles for loss with his quickness against the run, and he plays hard on every down. With the Eagles certain to lose multiple interior defensive linemen this offseason, they need to reload.

Round 2, pick 62: Steve Avila, iOL, TCU (6'4, 332)

The Eagles love them some versatile offensive linemen and Avila has experience playing at C, LG, RG, and RT over his career for TCU. He moves bodies in the run game, and does not lose against power rushes.

You can also tell that he is smart, with polish, and has enough quickness to get to where he needs to be against speedier interior rushers:

Cam Jurgens is likely to start in 2023, whether that's at center if Jason Kelce retires (I'm not anticipating that), or at RG if Isaac Seumalo moves on to a new team. Avila is a player who can provide immediate depth at all three interior line positions with an eventual future as a starting guard. He can also be the long-term backup center, as I believe that the Eagles view Landon Dickerson as a foundational piece, but at guard only.

The Eagles usually make at least one boring OL pick on a guy unlikely to start immediately, so, you know, just prepare yourselves for that.

Round 3, pick 94: Sydney Brown, S, Illinois (5'10, 211)

Brown had a very productive 2022 season, making 60 tackles, 6 INTs (plus a pick-six), a forced fumble, and a fumble return for a TD. He makes plays:

Brown is also a very good athlete who ran a 4.47 40, vertical jumped 40.5", and put up 23 bench reps.

The Eagles' needs at safety should be obvious, especially if Chauncey Gardner-Johnson walks in free agency.

Round 7: Dylan Horton, DE, TCU (6'4, 257)

Horton entered the 2022 season without much production through his first four seasons with New Mexico and TCU, but he had a breakout season in 2022, notching 10.5 sacks and four batted passes. He had a monster game against Michigan in the college football playoff, with four sacks, as well as two sacks in the Big 12 Championship Game.

Horton has an explosive first step, which at a minimum makes him appealing as a late Day 3 pick, but he has a ways to go as a run defender, and will probably be unplayable for a while until he improves in that area.

Round 7: Bryce Baringer, P, Michigan State (6'2, 216)

Baringer averaged 48.4 yards per punt in 2021, and 49.0 yards per punt in 2022 at an outdoor, cold weather school. Do you want to watch punter highlights? Of course you do!

The Eagles seem to prioritize punters who excel at "pin them deep" situations over punters who are better in "open field blast off" punting situations. If so, they shouldn't, given their tendencies to simply go for it on fourth down when they are in their opponent's end of the field. Go get a guy who can mash. That's Baringer.

But most importantly about Baringer is that he wears goggles, which as you already know can improve punting performance by up to 38 percent.

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