More Sports:

January 04, 2016

Eagles only mock draft, version 1.0

Eagles NFL
010416TaylorDecker Jay LaPrete/AP

No matter who the next coaching staff will be, Ohio State OT Taylor Decker should be a clear player of interest to the Eagles.

Who will the Eagles' next head coach be? Who will run the defense? The offense? Will the Eagles employ a zone-blocking scheme, or a man-blocking scheme? Will they run a 4-3, a 3-4, or some kind of hybrid? What attributes will the next coaching staff value in their players at each positional group? What height-weight-speed parameters will they set, if any?

Meh. The Eagles' season is over, so for now, let's just eschew those minor details and get to what everyone wants ... an Eagles-only mock draft!

Round 1: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State (6'7, 315)

Decker is really good. In the run game he moves people, and in the passing game, he does a great keeping himself in between the pass rusher and his quarterback. Here's his game earlier this season against Virginia Tech. He was dominant.

Decker played RT for Ohio State as a sophomore and moved to LT last season. With Jason Peters' career winding down, Decker could follow in the footsteps of Lane Johnson, who played both RT and LT at Oklahoma. 

Peters turns 34 in January and is currently the third-oldest offensive lineman in the NFL. While Peters has had a tremendous career and is arguably a Hall of Fame talent, his career is clearly in decline and he has experienced multiple injuries this season to his ankle, back, quad, and elbow. 

In 2016, Peters will count for $9,300,000, of which the Eagles can save $6,300,000 by releasing or trading him. It will be difficult for the Eagles to feel comfortable to cut or trade him without a viable option in place,. Decker would allow the Eagles to explore trading Peters, perhaps to a team that thinks it can contend for a Super Bowl, and is in need of a left tackle.

The Eagles could draft Decker with the idea in mind that Johnson will move to LT, and Decker can fill right in at RT. Or, perhaps the Eagles could view Decker as an answer at LT, and just let Johnson stay at RT.

Round 3: William Jackson III, CB, Houston (6'1, 195)

The Eagles had little choice but to overspend on a corner in free agency last offseason, and Byron Maxwell predictably did not live up to his pay scale. I see a need here both in the short term and long term.

In the short term, the Eagles are currently running guys like Ed Reynolds and Chris Maragos onto the field in nickel looks. That's not good. An additional corner, preferably once with inside/outside versatility, would give the Eagles more numbers on the back end.

In the long term, the Eagles are going to want to get out of Maxwell's contract whenever it's financially realistic. Ideally, they can have someone in place to take over on the outside whenever that's possible.

Jackson has outstanding ball skills. He had 10 pass breakups in 2014 (a nice total), and 23 in 2015. Jackson is a PBU machine, and he also had five interceptions this season, two of which he returned for pick-sixes. Here's one of those pick-sixes, against Vanderbilt:

In the above video, you'll hear the announcer say he's projected as a 4th-round pick. CBS Sports currently has his slated as the 94th best overall prospect. I'd call him a steal in the third round.

Round 3: Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State (6'2, 230)

Prescott's numbers in 2015 were tremendous. Equally important, in my opinion, is that he has shown steady improvement as his college career has progressed:

 YearComp-Att Yards TD-INT 
201218-29 194 4-0 
 2013156-267 1940 10-7 
 2014244-396 3449 27-11 
 2015316-477 3793 29-5 

The obvious thing to note above about Prescott's passing numbers is his TD-INT ratio this year. The other obvious thing to note over the course of his career are his rushing numbers:

 YearAtt Yards YPC TD 
 201232 118 3.7 
 2013134 829 6.2 13 
 2014210 986 4.7 14 
 2015160 588 3.710 

Prescott has found the end zone as a runner 41 times in his college career. That is impressive.

However, I watched a couple of Prescott's games (vs LSU and Texas A&M in 2015, both of which were losses), and I don't see a quarterback who is ready to have immediate success at the NFL level. He has a ways to go.

In the games I watched, Prescott was not accurate at all throwing deep and intermediate passes. He's high, he's low, he's left, and he's right, but he's rarely hitting his receivers on the mark. He does, however, do a really nice job in the short passing game. While he has the skills to take off and run, he is a "pass first" quarterback, as he will hang in the pocket until his reads have been exhausted, or until he feels pressure.

While I feel that fans and some media overrate Prescott, a good landing spot for him would be the third round. Again, he is not ready to start in the NFL, and that may take a few years, but in a situation where a team can have patience, a good coaching staff can perhaps grow Prescott's natural physical talent.

Round 4: Parker Ehinger, OT/OG, Cincinnati (6'7, 318)

On CBS Sports' draft prospect list, Ehinger is listed as the 168th best prospect overall, and the 10th best guard. I don't agree with that placement on two fronts. To begin, I believe Ehinger is being criminally underrated in his overall projection, but also, I believe he can absolutely hang at OT at the next level.

In 2014, Ehinger was the Bearcats' RG, but he moved to LT for the 2015 season. So, you know, versatility.

This is a big boy who carries his height and weight well, looking not just coordinated, but athletic. And in addition to his impressive height-weight combination, he has long, powerful arms that keep opposing pass rushers at bay. In the run game, he is capable of moving defenders against their will.

Here's his game against Memphis. While Memphis doesn't have any truly notable pass rush prospects who are locks to play in the NFL, watch Ehinger pass protect with ease because of his size, technique, awareness, and athleticism. This guy is unquestionably going to pick up steam as the draft season progresses. Here's Ehinger's game against Memphis:

Round 5: Bryce Williams, TE, East Carolina (6'6, 258)

Williams has great size and very good receiving skills. On the season, he has 58 catches for 588 yards and 4 TDs. That earned him an invite to the Senior Bowl.

In his last four games, Zach Ertz had 35 catches for 450 yards and a touchdown. He showed down the stretch that he can be relied upon as the Eagles' starting tight end. That makes Brent Celek expendable. In 2015, Celek will count for $5 million against the cap, which is the 11th-highest cap total on the roster in 2016. That is wholly unjustifiable for a backup tight end. The Eagles should be looking to replace Celek with a cheaper developmental option.

At ECU, Williams lined up as an in-line TE, an H-back, a FB, and as a WR. He is a versatile player who can theoretically fit into any system. Williams' game against Florida this season:

Round 5: Keyarris Garrett, WR, Tulsa (6'4, 221)

In 2013, Garrett had a devastating injury that cut his 2013 season short, and limited him physically in 2014, via Kevin Connelly of the Shreveport Times

Garrett’s remarkable career has faced more doubt than it may seem through his numbers and accolades. He suffered a compound fracture of his lower left leg after catching a pass on a game-winning drive against Colorado State in 2013 (Think Louisville’s Kevin Ware vs. Duke in the 2013 Elite Eight). 
It was just the second game of his junior season and came on the heels of a breakout sophomore campaign where he was named second-team All-Conference USA with a team-high 67 catches for 845 yards and nine touchdowns. 
“That was an awful injury,” Garrett said. “I had a lot of surgeries on my leg just to get it back right, so it took me a lot of time. At one point in time I didn’t think I was going to be able to come back, because there was just so much going on.”

In 2015, Garrett broke out again, catching 96 passes for 1588 yards and 8 TDs. The Eagles are willing to take chances on players with serious injury histories, and with Chip Kelly's sports science infrastructure going nowhere, that philosophy may not change. Garrett isn't a run after the catch guy, but he uses his size well on vertical routes and in the red zone, which is something the Eagles lack. A highlight reel:

Round 6: Tyler Johnstone, OT, Oregon (6'6, 295)

The Eagles have drafted just one offensive lineman over the last three years, which is the lowest total in the NFL. Over the last two years, they are the only team in the NFL not to have drafted an offensive lineman. The Eagles failed to add to their OL despite having what is the oldest starting OL in the NFL, even after the release of both Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans. They have little in the way of depth both in terms of guys who can step in and play well if someone gets hurt, and young developmental players who can be groomed to eventually become long-term starters. Hence, we have three offensive linemen in our mock 1.0.

Johnstone would be a developmental player who could serve as a swing tackle early in his career, which is something the Eagles lack.

In 2012, Johnstone made just about any Freshman All-American team you can find. He played LT at Oregon, despite the presence of 2015 Bengals second round pick Jake Fisher. Fisher only moved to LT after Johnstone tore an ACL in the 2013 Alamo Bowl and missed the entire 2014 season. He actually tore his ACL twice, with the second occurrence being just before the 2014 season, after he had rehabbed his initial tear.

In terms of what Johnstone is as a player, he's pretty much what you would expect of an Oregon offensive lineman -- he has a sleek build, he's athletic, and he does a great job getting out in space and making blocks at the second level. However, despite his smallish size, Johnstone does a good job anchoring against bull-rushing defenders.

Teams will have to be comfortable with his medical checks.

Round 7: Jacoby Brissett, QB, NC State (6'4, 235)

Brissett has good size, mobility, and he flashes ability on occasion, but he does not make quick decisions at all. At the NFL level, every quarterback has to be able to make plays from the pocket, and Brissett is (A) slow to deliver the football, and (B) way too quick to look to escape from the pocket. We broke down his game in more depth here.

Brissett will compete at the Senior Bowl in a few weeks, so we'll get a better look at him then, but for now I see him as little more than a developmental project who will be taken late Day 3 of the draft. In this scenario, as long as you're developing one raw quarterback above in Dak Prescott, why not go ahead and try to develop two simultaneously, with Brissett working from the practice squad?

Round 7: Keenan Reynolds, RB, Navy (5'11, 195)

Much like Vikings backup running back and former Georgia Southern quarterback Jerick McKinnon, Reynolds will likely make the transition to running back in the pros from being an option quarterback in college. I think a better comp for Reynolds, however, would be Denard Robinson, who was selected in the fifth round of the 2013 draft by the Jaguars.

Reynolds is the all-time NCAA leader in rushing touchdowns, with 85 of them. The next closest player is Montee Ball, who had 77. 

Reynolds' transition to the NFL could take some time, as Navy's offense runs the ball 125 percent of the time. He'd have to learn how to become a receiver and pass protector out of the backfield.

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski

Add some PhillyVoice RSS feeds.