It’s been a long time coming, but the NFL Draft is here. Waiting through this off-season has been more bearable than usual for Eagles fans, mostly thanks to the good vibes that come with being Super Bowl Champions. It’s good news too, because they’ll have to wait through the entire first round before the Eagles take the podium to announce the 32nd selection. Or, if many predictions are proved right and the Eagles trade back to gain picks on the second day, even longer.
We’ve done up three seven round mocks suggesting players the Eagles could draft. Where they diverge is what Philadelphia decides to do with their first round pick. Up first: staying put and drafting their favorite player at 32.
Scenario One: Stand Pat
Round One, Pick 32: Justin Reid, S, Stanford
Round Four, Pick 130: Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon
Round Four, Pick 132: Daurice Fountain, WR, Northern Iowa
Round Five, Pick 169: Durham Smythe, TE, Notre Dame
Round Six, Pick 206: Tremon Smith, CB, Central Arkansas
Round Seven, Pick 250: Ryan Anderson, P, Rutgers
Reid seems likely to be available at the end of the first round, and is a player heavily connected to the Eagles. His brother is former 49ers Pro Bowl safety Eric Reid, and he’d be both an excellent immediate replacement for Corey Graham as a third safety and the future at the position for Philadelphia.
Freeman is one of several middle-round backs the Eagles have taken a look at this off-season, and while this may be a bit late for him to go, it’s difficult predicting the order these rbs will go after the first few. He’s a complete back with power that would step into LeGarrette Blount’s role in the rotation and would make Jay Ajayi’s possible departure after this season easier to live with. Miami’s Mark Walton and North Carolina State’s Nyheim Hines are two other backs in play at this stage.
Smythe has been used primarily as a blocking tight end at Notre Dame, something the Eagles are missing with Brent Celek gone. Stanford’s Dalton Schultz is another option in the same vein, and his fellow alumni Zach Ertz is pulling for him. Smith was a shutdown corner at a small school whose testing suggests he can hang in the big leagues.
Scenario Two: Trade Down
Round Two, Pick 40: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Round Three, Pick 99: Duke Dawson, CB, Florida
Round Four, Pick 130: Marcus Allen, S, Penn State
Round Four, Pick 132: Chris Herndon, TE, Miami
Round Five, Pick 169: Tony Adams, G, NC State
Round Seven, Pick 250: Javon Wims, WR, Georgia
Here the Eagles get second and third round selections from Denver in exchange for the 32nd pick and their sixth rounder. Denver has two third round picks, and they’ve been mentioned as a willing trade partner at the top of the first round already. If they aren’t chasing a quarterback at the fifth pick, maybe they’ll trade back into the first round for one that falls.
Where Hurst goes is anyone’s guess at the moment. A possible first-round selection, Todd McShay has recently said he could fall as far as day three after an irregular EKG at the combine. Each year there are players that experience an unexpected fall, but all it takes is one team. If the Eagles are confident in Hurst’s health, he’d be excellent value here. Dawson is one of the corners in this draft most prepared to come in and compete for a slot role and a hard hitter.
Allen fills the same role as Reid, but would be best put to use in the box from day one. Herndon is a better receiving prospect at tight end than Smythe or Schultz, and just had his best season in Miami once free of the shadow of 2017 first round pick David Njoku. Wims is a raw receiving prospect - it’s not a role the Eagles need an immediate contributor in.
Scenario Three: Trade Up
Round One, Pick 27: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
Round Four, Pick 132: Brandon Parker, T, North Carolina A&T
Round Six, Pick 206: Akrum Wadley, RB, Iowa
Round Seven, Pick 250: Damon Webb, S, Ohio State
And now for the much less likely trade scenario: the Eagles move up. They’ve done it often in the past and it’s pretty easy to argue that it’s worked out better than their trades down. But the capital involved is something they just don’t have this year. Using Draft TEK’s Trade Value Chart it costs one of the Eagles’ fourth round picks and a fifth just to give the Saints equal value and move up five spots to jump ahead of the Steelers and take a player both Pennsylvania teams have been linked to: Vander Esch.
Linebacker isn’t a pressing need for the Eagles, but Vander Esch is the rare player at that position they seem to value highly, and if he started to fall down the board they could make a move and maybe even recoup one of the assets lost in this trade by sending Mychal Kendricks elsewhere later in the draft.
They only have a few picks left to make in this projection. Parker is a tackle with NFL pedigree despite his small school. Wadley offers the same help at running back as some of the above players, and also comes ready to contribute as a returner. Webb is a versatile tool for the secondary overshadowed by all the stars that have come out of the Ohio State backfield in recent seasons.