We’re just over 24 hours away from the 2016 NFL Draft and with the Eagles guaranteed to take a Quarterback with the second overall pick after a blockbuster trade, there will be a lot of focus on how they approach the remaining rounds. Will they focus on fortifying the Offense for their new future franchise Quarterback or give Schwartz as many weapons as possible?
Here’s my final seven round Eagles only Mock draft..
Round 1: Carson Wentz, QB North Dakota State
The Eagles traded up to draft a future franchise Quarterback and with the Rams leaning towards Jared Goff it seems almost certain that the Eagles will land NDSU’s Carson Wentz. The 6’5 Quarterback has the prototypical frame of a modern day NFL Quarterback and whilst he dominated during his time at North Dakota, completing 62.5% of his passes for 1,651 yards, 17TD’s and 4INT’s in 2015, he’s still going to need a lot of work to ensure his transition to the NFL is a smooth one.
I’ve spoken extensively about why trading up for Wentz is a lot riskier than many think, but the Eagles have obviously seen enough positives to believe he has the ability to become “the guy”. The Wentz debate will likely rage on for months to come, but as far as the Draft goes, it’s clear the Eagles love what they see and all the signs are pointing towards Wentz sitting behind the Eagles starter next season..whether or not that’s Sam Bradford remains to be seen.
Round 3: Harlan Miller, CB Southeastern Louisiana
The Eagles may have a solid amount of depth in the Secondary after an impressive Free Agency, but they could still use a hard hitter. Ron Brooks and Leodis McKelvin know the system and are primed to help the younger guys develop..one of those young guys should absolutely be Harlan Miller. Miller leaves Southeastern Louisiana with 11 interceptions to his name, ranking 4th in the program’s history. He also earned First Team All-Conference honors in three consecutive years. But the real reason why he would shine under Schwartz lies in the system he flourished in.
The Lions’ unique 4-2-5 hybrid scheme saw Miller lined up against the oppositions number one receiver in most situations and he was still able to register 49 tackles and 6 for a loss in 2015. His quick footwork means that his bump-and-run ability is very impressive whilst his slightly undersized frame make him the perfect fit to learn under Schwartz. An established run defender who can mirror perfectly in man coverage and isn’t afraid to get dirty in the run game or impose his physicality on bigger receivers. Projected to go anywhere between the third and the fifth round, the Eagles should take the jump if he’s still on the board in the third because this is a talent who can come in and make an impact on day one. Miller is a dream fit for the Eagles as a slot corner and can develop under two corners who know the system, a sophomore corner with an extremely high ceiling in Eric Rowe and one of the most renowned Defensive Coordinators in professional football.
Round 5: Nick Kwiatkoski OLB, West Virginia
This move would not surprise me at all. The Eagles spoke with Kwiatkoski at the Senior Bowl and also hosted him to a Pre-Draft visit. As a former Safety, Kwiatkoski displays the instincts and raw athleticism to be a secret weapon in any Defense. But having played as both the SAM and the WILL Linebacker, it’s his versatility is what could land him in Philadelphia who could really do with some depth at the position.
At 6’2 and 243 lbs, Kwiatkoski may be slightly undersized for this Defense, but his numbers speak for themselves. He ended his college career with a total of 295 tackles, 6 sacks, 3 forced fumbles 6 interceptions, and 10 passes defensed. His ability to wrap his arms around runners and finish tackles is what really makes Kwiatkoski stand out. For a team who ranked 32nd in rushing yards allowed, a Linebacker who can sit back and punish running backs who try to punch through the trenches would be a sensible choice in the fifth round.
Round 5: Daniel Lasco RB, California
Lasco could be a steal if he falls to the fifth round. After being outshone by Quarterback Jared Goff and seeing his numbers drop massively, Lasco could well become the ultimate sleeper for a team looking to build a committee backfield once again. The Eagles worked out the Cal running back a few weeks ago and after trading up for a Quarterback have almost guaranteed that they will look to employ a communal backfield as Pederson did in the absence of Jamaal Charles with the Chiefs last season.
Lasco isn’t a DeMarco Murray power runner, nor is he as elusive as Ryan Mathews, but his ability to burst through the trenches and bounce to the outside could make him the perfect compliment to a backfield looking for consistency , versatility and unpredictability. Three traits that Lasco boasts whenever he touches the ball.
Round 6: Glenn Gronkowski FB, Kansas State
The resurgence of Baby Gronk! The Eagles have signed one fullback this off-season after Pederson hinted that he plans to bring the Fullback utilization back to Philadelphia. Ryan Mueller is a former linebacker who was cut from the Chargers practice squad last November and despite trying out Michael Zordich Jr, the Eagles appear to lack notoriety or depth at the position. Pederson’s enthusiasm for the fullback position leads me to believe that he will be adding some competition however and that competition comes in the form of Mini Gronk.
Proven in rushing, blocking and receiving, Glenn Gronkowksi started all 13 games last year and averaged 4.1 yards per carry along with 15.2 yards per reception. He ended his college career with seven touchdowns on just 31 Offensive touches. Boasting a 6’2 and 239 lbs he ran a 4.71 40-yard dash and his ability to contribute as a blocker, receiver and rusher will be invaluable to a team who are striving to strengthen all three areas with limited resources to do so.
Round 7: Fahn Cooper OT, Ole Miss
As well as needing help when it comes to stopping the run, the Eagles also need help creating it. Offensive Tackle Fahn Cooper would be a low risk, high reward player to draft in an attempt to do just that. Filling in for top tackle prospect Laremy Tunsil whilst he served his suspension, Cooper played on both sides yet continued to fall under the radar. His intimidating 6’4, 303 lbs build is almost as impressive as his ability to push opposing linemen back behind the line of scrimmage..something key in opening up the running game.
Cooper also has no problems stopping the edge rush, regardless of the intensity that’s coming his way. A patient and intelligent lineman, Cooper brings well thought out mechanics to challenge even the most gifted rushers and lineman. He’s not a perfect prospect and can often be slow to pick up blitzes, but that will come in time. The fundamental technique and footwork is already in place and considering the long term future of Jason Peters is doubtful, the Eagles need a future starter to take over from Johnson when he inherits the LT starting role…Cooper could be that man.
Round 7: Jay Lee WR, Baylor
If the Eagles regard each off-season signing as a mid-round pick as Howie Roseman mentioned, the amount of attention paid to WR through Free Agency implies the birds are content with their current receivers. However, a rookie underdog wouldn’t go amiss here and Jay Lee is the perfect fit should he fall to the seventh round.
The Eagles need someone who consistently make tough catches and hold onto the ball. What Lee brings is something a little extra. With an arm span of 33 inches, he is able to pluck balls that may be out of reach for most other receivers. After starting all 13 games for Baylor, Lee ended 2015 with 758 total yards and 8 touchdowns. He generates separation with ease and is able to slide out of harms way to pick up extra yards. The verticality he possesses and ability to break free before a corner has acknowledged what’s happened could see him develop into a dangerous deep threat for the Eagles.
Why would he fall to the seventh round? He ended 2015 third in receiving on Baylor’s roster and wasn’t targeted anywhere near as much as he could have been because of the talents surrounding him. Had he been favored more, we would most likely be predicting him to go in the mid-rounds. Lee is consistent, well rounded and incredibly lengthy for a receiver..making him a dream pick so late in the draft.
Photo credit: USATSI