February 01, 2016
Since our Eagles-only mock draft 1.0, the Eagles have hired their head coach and his staff of assistants. The Senior Bowl has also come and gone, and soon we'll move on to the Combine. To pass the time, and in this case I mean really pass the time (I got a little carried away as this thing is over 2500 words long), here's our Eagles-only mock draft 2.0.
To begin, this will of course be a scenario in which the Eagles will have moved on from Sam Bradford, as I suspect they will. On Sunday, we went through the teams picking between 1-12 in the 2016 NFL Draft, and their likelihood of drafting a quarterback with their first round picks. If I were a betting man, one of the three top quarterback prospects (Cal's Jared Goff, North Dakota State's Carson Wentz, and Memphis' Paxton Lynch) will make it to the Eagles at 13. Or perhaps a modest trade up that doesn't require selling the farm can do the trick.
Of the three quarterbacks, the shine has come off Lynch to some degree. Back in November, we did an in-depth profile of Lynch's game. Spoiler -- I liked him at the time.
However, Lynch had a bad bowl game against Auburn, and Memphis also suffered a three-game losing streak near the end of the season against Navy, Houston and Temple. As a result, some have soured on him. I have too, to some degree, but I still think he's an excellent quarterback prospect. Let's start with Lynch's numbers on the season:
Obviously, those numbers are very good, especially the 28 TDs vs 4 INTs. However, the completion percentages are somewhat skewed because Memphis throws a high number of bubble screens, as most schools now do. Still, Lynch has a cannon and can make every throw. In the games I watched, he threw deep balls, fades, deep outs, slants, back shoulder jawns, etc. So don't let the bubble screens fool you -- He can pass accurately on a wide assortment of throws.
Lynch also rushed for 235 yards and two TDs on the season, and 321 yards and 13 TDs in 2014. He's not going to rack up bigtime rushing numbers in the NFL, but he can move very well for his size and pick up first downs when necessary. He can also use his mobility to extend plays and throw from outside the pocket.
At 6'6, 230, Lynch obviously has outstanding size to see over the line of scrimmage. In addition to his aforementioned arm strength, he can also throttle it down and throw with touch. Coming from a smaller program like Memphis, and being something of a late riser, many are going to question Lynch's feel for the game. I have no such concerns. It is actually a major strength in his overall game, in my opinion, which again, we detailed in our film breakdown of him in November.
Certainly, there are negatives too. Because he really came on so late in his college career, scouts will have wanted to see a larger body of work of sustained success. The possibility of being a "one-year wonder" will turn some teams off. Still, in my view, Lynch is clear first round talent with a lot of upside. With an Eagles coaching staff loaded with former quarterback coaches, Philly could be a good fit for Lynch. The Eagles could slow-play him, allowing a bridge quarterback to play in 2016 until Lynch is ready.
Is Lynch among the best 13 players in the draft? That's debatable, although I would lean toward "probably not." While I subscribe in theory to drafting "BPA" (best player available), if you wait until a quarterback is the best player available on your board, you'll never get one unless you're drafting No. 1 or No. 2 overall. And even then, a quarterback might not even be "BPA." Lynch, in my opinion, would be worth the "risk," if that's what you would even call drafting a guy you think can be a long-term answer at the most important position in sports.
Running back is somewhat of an underrated need for the Eagles this offseason. If you want to read a 1000+ word analysis of the Eagles' options with DeMarco Murray this offseason, go right ahead, but the CliffsNotes version is that you should prepare yourselves for Murray to remain in Philly in 2016. Next offseason, however, the Eagles can move on from Murray and save $4 million off their cap in 2017. Barring a monster comeback season from the Eagles' infamous airplane Chatty Cathy, the Eagles will likely jump at that opportunity.
Meanwhile, Darren Sproles will turn 33 in June and Ryan Mathews is effective when healthy, but, you know, rarely healthy. The Eagles don't have an obvious immediate need for a new back, but they will.
Dixon was really impressive during the week of Senior Bowl practices, especially as a receiver out of the backfield. He'll enter the NFL a more polished receiver than most of the running backs already collecting paychecks. Safeties and linebackers couldn't cover Dixon, and often looked silly trying. In some ways, Dixon reminds me a little of Jamaal Charles, who Doug Pederson coached in Kansas City. If Pederson's offense is anything like Andy Reid's, he'll want his running back to be a weapon in the passing game. Dixon can be that for the new regime.
As a runner, Dixon is tough and physical, as evidenced by his nose for the end zone. These TD numbers are ridiculous:
If Dixon somehow lasts until the third round (running backs have become undervalued), the Eagles should be all over him. A highlight reel:
As we've noted in the past, Stanford has churned out a lot of offensive line prospects recently:
There will be two more this year in Garnett and OT Kyle Murphy. Garnett has over 40 games of experience playing for Stanford at guard. He is not the most athletic guy, but when he gets to the second level he looks to put defenders on the ground. Garnett will not come with a high ceiling, but he should have a high floor. He could be a steady player who may be able to step in and play from Day 1.
Clark had the longest arms at the Senior Bowl, measuring in at 36 1/4" and a wingspan of 85 7/8". He also flashed impressive athletic ability, but he will be a complete projection to the NFL, as he played in Texas Tech's spread offense. And there's some pretty bad tape of him out there:
Last week, we reported that Doug Pederson expects Jason Peters to be back next season:
"I think JP’s got several good years left in him," said Pederson. "I think that he does the right things in the offseason to get himself ready to go for another year. I’m really looking forward to visiting him, talking with him, seeing where he’s at, and then motivating him further for the future."
Asked more bluntly if he wanted Peters back, Pederson said, “I would, yes.”
I would not want Clark starting for me in 2016, but if you gave him a year or two to learn the game at the NFL level, his physical tools are worth a fourth-round investment.
Entering the 2015 season, Jones has a measly three starts, but they were kind of a big deal:
• Start No. 1: Big Ten Championship Game vs No. 13 Wisconsin, who the Buckeyes blew out, 59-0.
• Start No. 2: The Sugar Bowl against No. 1 ranked Alabama to get to the National Championship Game.
• Start No. 3: The National Championship Game, in which the Buckeyes beat No. 2 ranked Oregon.
3-0. Many pro quarterbacks will never play in three games that big.
In 2015, the Buckeyes started 7-0 with Jones as the starter, but he struggled and was benched in favor of J.T. Barrett.
Jones has a similar skill set to that of Paxton Lynch, in that he's big, has a cannon arm, and his game needs refinement. As long as you're developing one guy like that, why not two?
Remember the days when the Eagles had a 4-3 defense, and they always loaded up on defensive line talent, even with good players in place? "Fastballs," and whatnot? That's probably coming back.
One very intriguing prospect is Hargrave, who comes from an FCS school, South Carolina State. Hargrave destroyed his smaller school competition this season at his DT spot, racking up 13.5 sacks, 22 tackles for loss, 59 tackles, and two forced fumbles. That came a season after he had 16 sacks and 24 tackles for loss.
Here's a sampling of what Hargrave did against lesser competition:
I don't know anything about Arkansas Pine Bluff's right guard, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he isn't as good as Zack Martin. Hargrave stood out during the week of Shrine Game practices, and received a late invite during the week of Senior Bowl practices after players were lost due to injury.
Hargrave moves extraordinarily well for his size at 315 pounds, and could be a quality penetrating one-gap defender in Jim Schwartz's defense.
After the Eagles fired Chip Kelly, a realization came to me that all the time spent trying to figure out what traits Kelly valued in his positional players was out the window. Fans and media alike were going to have to begin figuring out once again what the new staff prefers.
The Eagles already spent significant resources on bigger corners, and it appears that they may have a player in Eric Rowe. Since Jim Schwartz has already gone out of his way to note that he will scheme to his players' strengths, it would stand to reason that he will try to let his corners often be physical in press coverage at the line of scrimmage. If we're making the leap that Schwartz does indeed build his scheme to fit the big corners the Eagles already have in place, it would then make sense that the Eagles continue to target bigger corners. Is that oversimplified? If so, good.
According to Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com, the Eagles spent quite a bit of time with Bradberry:
Samford cornerback James Bradberry spent close to an hour with the Eagles this past Tuesday night, a meeting that took place with head coach Doug Pederson, secondary coach Cory Undlin and top personnel executive Howie Roseman, among others. It is unclear if defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was in the meeting.
Bradberry did not stand out to me at the Senior Bowl either in a positive or negative way. The reviews I've seen of him are mixed, although I do like this:
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. The Eagles are likely 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. At 6'1, 209, Bradberry would be another bigger corner to add to the mix.
Disclaimer: This could be one of those "late-riser" guys that the media was slow to catch up on. I'll stick him here in the sixth round for now, but claim no responsibility if he ends up going far earlier. ;)
Also: As the above Vine shows, the Pirates named Dave Jauss bench coach, in case you missed it.
Seumalo's primary position is at center, where he has started since he was a freshman. In his sophomore season (2013), he moved to RT for two games after Oregon State suffered injuries along their offensive line. He broke his foot at the end of the 2013 season, which cost him the entire 2014 season.
In 2015, Seumalo played RG and LT. He is a unique player who can play all five spots along the offensive line.
When asked about what he values in offensive linemen, Doug Pederson emphasized versatility:
"You love offensive linemen that are versatile," explained Pederson. "You love to have tackles that can play left or right. You love to have guards that can also play center. The more you can have that flexibility with your guys up front, the more combinations and rotations you can have, because not everyone is going to stay healthy for 16 games and you have to mix and match that. Guys that are athletic who can get out on the perimeter and run, aggressive up front, have a little, as they say, 'piss and vinegar' in their neck are guys that you look for. I think we have a good nucleus of that."
I'm not sure about the "piss and vinegar" part, but Seumalo has the versatility thing going for him.
At the center position for the Eagles, Jason Kelce has rare athleticism, but he has had a disappointing follow-up to his first Pro Bowl season in 2014. He tore his ACL in 2012, and he missed a chunk of last season after having surgery for a hernia. Kelce returned from both injuries in impressive fashion, so it's too early to call him injury prone, or injury-damaged.
Drafting a player to replace Kelce is out of the question, but the Eagles could certainly use a player who can play multiple positions along the offensive line, including center, seeing as they've signed or cut Julian Vandervelde 48 times in the last three years, and they lost David Molk for the season last year with a torn bicep.
It's not often a draft prospect is married with three kids, but that's what Quinton Jefferson's situation is, and he comes with more maturity than most. According to Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net, Jefferson interviewed well with teams this week.
Quinton Jefferson/DT/Maryland impressing during interviews. Teams like his character and personality.— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) January 26, 2016
As a player, at 6'4, 289, Jefferson is probably a three-technique in a 4-3, but he could play some DE. During the week of Senior Bowl practices, Jefferson had his moments in which he was a disruptive and able to make plays in the backfield. Again, with their move to a 4-3, expect the Eagles to load up on defensive line depth.
Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski
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