More Sports:

January 08, 2016

A list of 10 players the Eagles could consider with their first round pick

Eagles NFL
010816CarsonWentz Tim Sharp/AP

Carson Wentz is the best of the top three quarterback prospects at making plays with his legs.

Earlier in the week, we published our first Eagles-only mock draft of the offseason, which won three Pulitzers already. A number of you asked if we could point out some additional options for the Eagles' first round pick. Since I'm a man of the people, I obliged. Below is my initial "top 10 Eagles big board" of the offseason, which will undoubtedly change as we continue to get closer to the 2016 NFL Draft.

But first, a few names we can eliminate right off the bat: 

Forget about it

You can go ahead and take the following players off the Eagles' board, because they'll be long gone by the time they pick.

 Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss: Tunsil is probably going to go #1 overall to the Titans, who are likely to take the elite LT prospect and let him protect Marcus Mariota's blindside for the next 10 years. If the Titans are dumb enough to pass on Tunsil, there's still no way in hell he makes it anywhere near pick 13.

Jalen Ramsey, CB/S/LB/Whatever, Florida State: At Florida State, Ramsey played a myriad of roles, from corner to safety to linebacker to special teams stud. And he played them well. He's fast. He's aggressive. He's physical. He can cover. He can hit. He can rush the passer. And he's awesome on special teams. He's an incredible football player, which is why he'll be long gone.

 Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State: Bosa is the best pass rushing talent in this draft class, and those guys are over-drafted as it is. He won't make it to 13.

From there, here are 10 much more realistic options...


1) Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis (6'6, 230)

Lynch is a physical specimen who checks off all kinds of boxes in terms of what NFL teams are looking for in a quarterback. He has great size, a strong arm, touch, good mobility for his size, and a good feel for the game. We took a thorough look at Lynch's skills back in November. It's worth a peek.

There's a feeling that the Browns are going to snap him up at the second overall pick, which certainly wouldn't be a surprise. However, during the pre-draft process, quarterbacks tend to experience the most volatility, in terms of the fans and media rating players differently than the teams themselves. In other words, while Lynch looks like a potential top five pick now, that could change once he's dissected with a fine-tooth comb. But the guess here is that he'll be long gone by the time the Eagles pick, and they won't have the type of firepower it will take to trade up to get him.

2) Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame (6'6, 315)

Stanley is one of my favorite prospects in this draft. I watched two of his games last year against two completely different types of edge rushers. The first was against Florida State, when he battled Mario Edwards all day. Edwards goes 6'3, 280, and is a powerful defensive end who was selected 35th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. Edwards didn't catch a whiff of Notre Dame's QB, and he was moved off the line of scrimmage all day in the run game:

The other game was against LSU's Danielle Hunter, who is an athletic freak. Different type of player, same result:

Premium left tackles aren't easy to find, and Stanley is a really good one. I've seen hope among Eagles fans who follow the draft closely that Stanley could be available at 13. I would go ahead and lower those expectations drastically. However, if Stanley somehow fell to, oh, say, around 10, this would be a player worth trading up for, as the Eagles are going to have to replace Jason Peters.

3) LaQuon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss (6'2, 210)

Over the last two offseasons, the Eagles have invested heavily in wide receiver talent in the draft:

Year  PlayerRound Overall 
 2014Jordan Matthews 42 
 2014 Josh Huff86 
 2015 Nelson Agholor20 

It would be difficult to watch the Eagles draft another wide receiver in the first round, however, Treadwell possesses a skill the other Eagles receiver don't. He can catch.

A highlight reel (lol "MegaQuan"):

OK, so in all seriousness, Treadwell has good size at 6'2, 210, he's physical, he has great RAC skills, and he catches everything. He's the type of player, if available at 13, you just say "Screw it, I'm taking that guy." But he likely won't be there.

4) Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Ole Miss (6'3, 296)

Man, Ole Miss has a lot of blue chip prospects. Nkemdiche made FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman's "freaks" list for 2015:

The former 5-star recruit has been an anchor of one of the SEC’s best defenses (and the nation’s No. 1 ranked unit in scoring defense in 2014.) The 6-4, 290-pound junior isn’t built like any other DT. He’s got only 10 percent body fat. He’s clocked a 4.7 in the 40, vertical-jumped 34 inches and broad-jumped 9-8 to go with a 440-pound bench and 650-pound squat. 
“Unbelievable combination of size, speed, and motor,” said strength coach Paul Jackson. "Only knows one speed. Attacks every workout and plays every play as hard as anyone I have seen.”

However, there are issues. Nkemdiche was suspended for Ole Miss' bowl game this season, via Chris Low of ESPN.

Nkemdiche was charged with marijuana possession last week after Atlanta police found seven rolled marijuana cigarettes in a hotel room tied to Nkemdiche. He fell 15 feet and suffered mild injuries after breaking a window in a room at the Grand Hyatt in Atlanta, according to a police report.

Under Chip Kelly, the Eagles would likely pass on Nkemdiche because of #culture. But holy crap... Pair this guy with Fletcher Cox on the inside in a 4-3, and watch the destruction commence.

5) Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida (5'11, 199)

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 were 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.

A lot of people are going to like Clemson's Mackensie Alexander more than Hargreaves. I won't put up a big fight there, but I do like Hargreaves' playmaking ability. As a true freshman and sophomore, Hargreaves had 6 interceptions and 24 pass breakups. He made an immediate impact in the SEC in his teens. As a junior last season, even with teams staying away from him, Hargreaves had four more picks, with 152 return yards. In two years as a starter with Clemson, Alexander doesn't have a single pick. If I'm taking a corner in the top half of the first round, I want someone who is going to make plays. That's Hargreaves. 

In my opinion, if we're taking the "do everything" Jalen Ramsey out of the mix, Hargreaves is as complete a corner as there is in this draft, his 5'11 size be damned. A highlight reel:

6) A'Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama (6'3, 325)

This is extreme athleticism for a 325-pound dude:

At 6'3, 325, he's big, obviously strong, and an immovable object. A season ago, the Eagles couldn't stop the run. Robinson does an outstanding job of eating up blockers while giving up no ground and letting the linebackers behind him make plays.

Here's Robinson's game last year against Mississippi State. I laughed out loud at the 5:54 mark, when the MSU running back tried to chip Robinson, and got swatted to the ground like a gnat. Watch him win at the line of scrimmage. You simply can't move him.

At Alabama, Robinson played DT in four down linemen sets, and he played both DE and NT in three down linemen sets, depending on the situation. Cedric Thornton is a free agent, and if he were to move on from the Eagles, Robinson could join Cox and Bennie Logan to form what could be an incredibly dominant interior defensive line.

7) Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State (6'6, 230)

Like Lynch above, Wentz is big, he has a good arm, he's surprisingly athletic, and he has a good feel for the game. I also like Wentz's release more than Lynch's, but I think Lynch has an edge on accuracy. Also like Lynch (but even more so), Wentz will encounter concerns about the level of competition he faced at North Dakota State. We did a thorough review of Wentz's overall game about a month ago.

Wentz had his season interrupted by a broken bone in his wrist on his throwing arm, but he'll compete at the Senior Bowl in a few weeks. I reserve the right to eradicate Wentz from this list after taking a long look at him down in Mobile, AL, but my guess is that he'll fare just fine down there.

Even if the Eagles re-signed Sam Bradford, I would have no qualms whatsoever about taking a quarterback in the first round anyway. The Eagles have had extreme instability at the quarterback position since they (rightfully) traded Donovan McNabb, and they aren't winning jack until they get it fixed.

8) Jared Goff, QB, California (6'4, 210)

Admittedly, it's been a while since I sat down and watched Goff play. We broke down Goff's game way back in July, so I haven't watched any of his 2015 season. That's on the to-do list.

From what I saw of his 2014 games, Goff is really skinny, which is going to turn people off. To look at him, the perception is that he's going to get killed in the NFL. However, in the games I watched, he took some big shots and always seemed to pop right back up. He may have a frail-looking build by NFL standards, but he's tough. To look at Eli Manning, you would never guess he's one of the toughest guys in the NFL, but that's exactly what he is.

From what I saw of Goff in 2014, he has better accuracy than Lynch or Wentz, but clearly not the same type of arm strength. I'd prefer my rookie prospect to to have the latter, as it is easier to improve accuracy than arm strength.

9) Myles Jack, LB, UCLA (6'1, 245)

I can remember watching a pair of potential Eagles targets the last two offseasons in OLB Anthony Barr and ILB Eric Kendricks, both of whom went to UCLA, and being far more impressed with another guy on the Bruins' defense, Myles Jack.

In September, Jack suffered a torn anterior meniscus, which ended his season, but will likely not affect his ability to play next season for any team that drafts him. Jack is regarded as a top-10 type of talent and is reminiscent of former Washington LB/RB/S Shaq Thompson, who was taken by the Panthers in the first round of the 2015 draft. Like Thompson, Jack doubled as a running back in addition to his linebacker duties, only Jack is bigger, faster, and just... better.

In a 3-4, Jack would play ILB. Obviously, the Eagles have numbers at ILB, however, Kiko Alonso has not panned out this season and DeMeco Ryans appears as though he's nearing the end of his career. In a 4-3, Jack would probably be a WILL linebacker. Would the Eagles spend their first round pick on a guy to add to a positional group that already has Jordan Hicks and Mychal Kendricks set in place for the long-term? Or maybe you just make him your running back. Again, like Treadwell above, Jack is a guy where maybe you just go "Screw it. I'm taking him."

Here's what he can do:

10) Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State (6'7, 315)

Earlier in the week, we had Decker as the Eagles' first round pick in our first Eagles-only mock draft of the offseason. Obviously, I think Decker is really good. In the run game he moves people, and in the passing game, he does a great job 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.

I've had a few people whose opinions I value wonder if he's one of the 13 best players in the draft. I think he's right in that ballpark, and if you have to slightly over-draft an offensive tackle, then so be it. As we've found in recent drafts, if you don't, somebody else will, and then you end up not drafting anybody, which leads to an old, thin offensive line much like what the Eagles have now.

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski

Add some PhillyVoice RSS feeds.