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April 23, 2019

Eagles-only mock draft, final version

The 2019 NFL Draft is now only a couple days away, so let's go ahead and put out our final Philadelphia Eagles-only mock draft of the season. In case you missed any of our previous versions, you can find them here.

Round 1: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson (6'4, 342)

Before we begin, the Eagles can go all sorts of ways with their first-round pick. #Analysis. A couple week ago, we laid out their top 10 options with that pick, with, in my view, either a trade up or a trade back being the two most likely scenarios. In this scenario, we'll just do a straight "stay put" mock draft.

The Eagles need to add to their defensive tackle rotation, as Fletcher Cox took on a heavy workload a year ago, and is currently recovering from foot surgery. If they want him to be elite for the foreseeable future, they need to lighten his load a bit, while also having an eventual successor in place for him and/or newly acquired Malik Jackson.

As a team, the Eagles also need to be better against the run. In 2018, the Eagles faced both Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott twice. Here is what those two division rival backs were able to do against the Eagles' run defense:

Player Rush Yards YPC TD 
 Week 6 (Barkley)13 130 10.0 
 Week 10 (Elliott)19 151 7.9 
 Week 12 (Barkley)13 101 7.8 
 Week 14 (Elliott)28 113 4.0 
 TOTAL73 495 6.8 

The Eagles gave up 4.7 yards per carry on the season in 2018, which was up from 3.8 yards per carry the previous season. At 6'4, 342, Lawrence is an enormous run-stuffing specialist who would immediately help the Eagles fix some of their run defense issues. In my view, that is his base expectation.

Of course, that's not a good enough reason to draft Lawrence in the first round. Taking a run-stuffing specialist, who only is only that, is a bad use of resources. The Eagles will have to feel that Lawrence can be effective against the pass as well.

In college, because Clemson had an absurd overabundance of pass rushers, Lawrence didn't get many opportunities to rush the passer, and he finished his three-year career with 10 sacks. However, that doesn't mean he can't affect the passing game. If you single block him, because he is so big, strong, and surprisingly nimble for his size, he'll more often than not push the pocket, while getting his share of sacks and hits as well. 

At a minimum, he should draw a ton of double teams. For a guy who "isn't a pass rusher," watch how often he gets doubled on pass plays, again, despite a loaded Clemson defensive line.

Also, note in the video above what happens when he isn't doubled. 

If Lawrence can draw doubles at the NFL level, which he should, that will leave one-on-one opportunities for guys like Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and Derek Barnett, which is a recipe for quarterbacks hitting the ground.

In my view, Lawrence is more than just a run-stuffing specialist. While he will still likely come off the field on obvious passing downs like he did at Clemson, he is very capable of being a disruptive player in the passing game on first and second down. In my view, he is a completely valid first-round option who should be available at pick 25.

My top 4 other "stay put" options, in alphabetical order: Oklahoma WR Marquise Brown, Clemson DE Clelin Ferrell, Oklahoma OG/OT Cody Ford, and Mississippi State DT Jeffery Simmons.

Round 2: Elgton Jenkins, C/OG/OT, Mississippi State (6'4, 310)

Like Isaac Seumalo, Jenkins is rare lineman capable of playing every spot along the offensive line, though his best positions in the pros will be at guard and center. In his first three seasons at MSU, Jenkins appeared in 36 career games, with 21 starts. He started 13 games at center, five at left tackle, two at left guard and one at right tackle. In 2018 as a senior, he was once again the starting center.

Jenkins is a well-rounded blocker both in the run game and passing game, and is thought to be very intelligent. Here's his game last year against Alabama:

Added interior offensive line help is a short-term need, both in terms of filling in for Brandon Brooks, who may not be ready for the start of the 2019 season, and in terms of depth. It's also a long-term need, considering Jason Kelce's retirement, which looms on the horizon.

Round 2: Darnell Savage, S, Maryland (5'11, 198)

I believe the Eagles will take a safety in Round 2 of this draft, as it is a very deep group, and a bunch of good ones should be available at the end of the second round. There should be a few guys left over from a group that includes Florida's Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Viginia's Juan Thornhill, Washington's Taylor Rapp, Dalaware's Nasir Adderley, Iowa's Amani Hooker, Alabama's Deionte Thompson, and in this scenario, Savage.

The more I watch Savage the more I like him as a prospect. He is quick to diagnose what is happening in front of him, and when he makes up his mind on where he needs to be, he gets there in a blink. As you can see he is a highly athletic safety who had a very good Combine performance, which included a 4.36 40: 

Because he's a smaller safety, that will turn a number of teams off, but doesn't seem to bother Jim Schwartz, who prefers safeties who can run and cover over ones that deliver big hits. 

"I go back, I've been around a while, when safeties were named ‘Thumper’ – and I had a guy in Tennessee, first name was Tank, and I joked – Tank was a hell of a player, Tank Williams out of Stanford," Schwartz said back in 2017. "But Tank was a 235-pound safety. We saw a lot of two-back sets. He was sort of an extra linebacker in there, even though he was fast. I don't need guys named ‘Hammer’ and ‘Tank’, I need guys named ‘Swifty’ and ‘Ball Hawk’ and ‘The Glove’. Those are nicknames we're looking for now."

A decent breakdown of his game here:

Savage is definitely more of a "swifty" than a "tank." His skill set reminds me a little of Avonte Maddox. Because of his range, he would be fit in Rodney McLeod's deep safety role.

Round 4: Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M (5'8, 206)

In 2018, Williams was third in the nation in rushing yards. His career numbers: 

 Trayveon WilliamsRush Yards YPC TD 
 2016156 1,057 6.8 
 2017173 798 4.6 
 2018271 1,760 6.5 18 

He is also a good receiver out of the backfield, as Texas A&M moved him around the formation to create mismatches. Add in that he's also good in pass protection, and the Eagles should just forget about Duke Johnson and take Williams to be their third-down back on a rookie contract for four years. 

A highlight reel:

To note, I think Williams should go in the third round, but I'm in the minority on that one. If he's there in the fourth like many are projecting, I think he'd be a nice value.

Round 4: Oshane Ximines, DE, Old Dominion (6'3, 253)

Ximines had good numbers at Old Dominion, posting 32.5 sacks, 51 tackles for loss, and 11 forced fumbles the last four years. Of course, a lot of that damage was done against some lower-level right tackle slugabeds:

Still, you can see his athleticism as an up-field rusher. On the downside, he is thought to need significant work against the run.

As far as his fit with the Eagles, Ximines would be a sub-package rusher until he could prove he can hold up against the run. Many see him as a Day 2 pick. I see him more as a developmental prospect with some nice upside, but also a low floor.

Round 5: T.J. Edwards, LB, Wisconsin (6'0, 230)

Edwards led the Badgers in tackles as a freshman, sophomore, and senior, and was second as a junior in 2017. More importantly, over the last two seasons, Edwards has 10 interceptions. His numbers at Wisconsin:

T.J. Edwards Tackles (TFL)INT Sacks FF-FR-PBU 
 201584 (6.5) 1-0-4 
 201689 (8.5) 0-0-2 
 201781 (11) 0-0-7 
 2018112 (11.5) 0-1-2 
 TOTAL366 (37.5) 10 1-1-15 

Those interceptions are of the impressive variety:

Edwards doesn't have good athleticism, and while you don't want him covering guys like Tarik Cohen or Alvin Kamara out of the backfield, he is good in coverage, particularly in zone assignments, which is what Jim Schwartz prioritizes in his linebackers.

Round 6: Preston Williams, WR, Colorado State (6'4, 211)

Coming out of high school, Williams was a highly sought after prospect who enrolled at Tennessee, but had a major knee injury his senior year in high school. After two disappointing seasons with the Vols, he transferred to Colorado State, where he was arrested, and subsequently suspended by CSU (even though he couldn't play during the 2017 season as a transfer anyway). 

In 2018, Williams had an outstanding season, catching 96 passes for 1,345 yards and 14 TDs. A highlight reel:

Williams was not invited to the NFL Combine as a result of a the above arrest, which was a domestic violence charge. Here are some of the details, from Kelly Lyell the Coloradoan:

Williams allegedly shoved a woman, who identified herself as his girlfriend, and restrained her at one point by grabbing her arm while she was trying to leave an apartment the two shared, according to a Fort Collins police report. Williams was originally charged with harassment and tampering, both misdemeanors, with a domestic violence enhancement, court records show.

A protection order was issued in the case, and Williams was arrested again Oct. 18, 2017 for violating that order by placing “approximately 200” phone calls to the woman.

At his pro day, Williams ran a disappointing 4.53, with a crappy 31.5" vertical jump and 116" broad jump.

Still, Williams' talent is obvious, and would be a good fit in the Eagles' offense on the outside. The Eagles were interested in Joe Mixon during the 2017 NFL Draft, and don't seem opposed to drafting players with serious character concerns. However, they will obviously do extensive homework on players like Williams.

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