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February 06, 2023

Eagles-only mock draft, version 1.0

Eagles NFL
122822JalinHyatt Randy Sartin/USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee's Jalin Hyatt

By this time in the offseason, we would have normally published a couple of Eagles-only mock drafts, but, you know, the Birds are in the Super Bowl or whatever, so I guess the draft isn't as important right now. Still, in the interest of not falling too far behind on the draft, let's publish our Eagles-only mock draft, version 1.0, before this week of intense Super Bowl coverage really gets going.

The Eagles currently have six picks total in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Round 1, pick 10: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois (6'0, 180)

Witherspoon was a star for Illinois in 2022, as he had 41 tackles, 3 INTs, and 14 pass breakups. When opposing quarterbacks targeted Witherspoon, the results were bad. From his Illinois bio page

• One of three finalists for the Thorpe Award
• Consensus All-American
• Did not allow a touchdown all season
• No. 1 coverage grade in the nation (92.5), according to PFF
• No. 2 graded cornerback in the nation and No. 1 in Power-5 (92.0), according to PFF
• No. 2 NFL passer rating against in the nation and No. 1 in Power-5 (25.0), according to PFF
• No. 6 graded defender in the nation and No. 2 in Power-5 (92.5), according to PFF
• Third-lowest reception percentage in the nation (34.9), according to PFF
• Allowed only 16 receptions on 54 targets as the primary defender on the season, according to ESPN
• Allowed just 3.3 yards against per attempt, according to ESPN
• Allowed fewer than 35 receiving yards in 11 of 12 games this season while matching up with opponent's No. 1 receivers

Impressively, Witherspoon is relatively new to football, as he only began playing in his junior year in high school. Despite that, he has been a quick study, as he is a very instinctive corner who reads plays pre-snap. Against Indiana earlier this season, Witherspoon had a monster highlight reel hit on a running back catching the ball out of the backfield, but I was more impressed by the way he knew exactly what was coming, trusted his instincts, and bolted toward the intended receiver before the ball was snapped.

Sheldon Brown approves. Below are some more highlights. If you don't know much about this kid because he he did not play for a big football program, watch the video and soak in the confidence, competitiveness, skill, and swagger.

With James Bradberry a good bet to leave in free agency and Darius Slay now 32 years of age, the Eagles need to add some youth at corner.

Round 1, pick 30 or 31: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee (6'0, 185)

Wide receiver is no longer the glaring need it has always been for the Eagles. However, if the right player were available in the right spot, it's fun to imagine the "super offense" the Eagles could build.

Hyatt had a breakout season out of the slot for Tennessee this season, catching 67 passes for 1267 yards (18.9 PYC) and 15 TDs. He is a speed receiver with deep ball tracking skills and run after catch ability. A look:

Imagine adding that dude to the slot, along with A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert. How would opposing secondaries cover all those weapons? I think a player like Hyatt is worth strong consideration at the back end of the first round if he's available.

Round 2: Derick Hall, Edge, Auburn (6'3, 256)

Hall is an edge defender with intriguing athleticism (200 meters state finalist in high school), and 34 3/8" arms who can win with speed around the edge and counter that outside threat with speed-to-power rushes. He is also considered a good run defender. Over the last two seasons (25 games), he has 112 tackles, 15.5 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles.

Hall has baseline athletic and power traits with some added upside if he can build a more extensive repertoire of pass rush moves. He also has some versatility, in that Auburn would occasionally drop him into coverage, where he didn't look uncomfortable.

Round 3: Jay Ward, CB, LSU (6'2, 188)

Ward is a converted cornerback to safety, who hasn't yet seemed to have gotten the attention of the draft community, but who is a really good player. 

Below is Ward's game against Mississippi State earlier this season, and he is all over the field. You'll see him attack WR screens on the other side of the line of scrimmage, he can knife through the line and make negative plays in the run game, and he's a good cover guy both from the slot and on the back end. 

He had 158 tackles, 6 INTs, 17 PBUs 2 FFs in 32 games the last three seasons. He reminds me a bit of Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.

Round 7: Braeden Daniels, OL, Utah (6'4, 297)

The Eagles love them some versatile offensive linemen, and Daniels has 18 career starts at LG, 13 at LT, and 11 at RT, per his bio on Utah's website. He doesn't have ideal size (at OG or OT, really), but could develop into a valuable backup at multiple positions.

Round 7: Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Minnesota (5'10, 210)

Ibrahim is a compact, physical runner who seems to like contact, and finishes his runs, often with authority. He also has good vision, and knows what holes to hit as blocking develops in front of him. In that respect, he has a chance to be a good short yardage guy. On the downside, he only has 19 career college catches, and spoiler, he is going to run a slow 40 time.

In 7 games in 2020, Ibrahim rushed for 1076 and 15 TDs. He tore his Achilles in the season opener in 2021, and missed the remainder of the season. In 2022, he regained his 2020 form, rushing 320 times for 1665 yards and 20 TDs. 

Ibrahim isn't a home run threat, and he'll turn 25 next September. As such, he's probably going to be a late Day 3 guy. Still, he could be a quality power rotational back for an Eagles team that can use a hammer to keep the clock running in the second halves of games. 

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