The Philadelphia Eagles won’t have to travel far when they kick off the 2017 NFL Draft. The team has eight selections in this year’s draft and I’ll try my best to mock and explain each selection.
Let’s kick the first-round off with a surprise move from the team.
Eagles trade the 14th pick and linebacker Mychal Kendricks to the Tennesse Titans for the 18th selection, 69th selection in the third-round, and a 2018 fourth-round pick. Titans select John Ross at No. 14.
1st round (18th overall): Kevin King, cornerback, Washington
King had the best combine performance out of all the qualifying cornerbacks in this year’s class. King ran a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash, with a 39.5 vertical jump, and a 3.89 20-yard shuttle.
As a two-year starter at Washington, King was targeted 122 times allowing 65 receptions for 746 receiving yards, seven passes defended, five interceptions and only one touchdown allowed in that time frame. Quarterbacks had a quarterback rating of 57.7 targeting King in coverage during that time frame as well.
King (6’3, 200 lbs.) is the perfect size and press-corner Jim Schwartz likes in his defense. His stock has risen higher than many have expected to and he’ll be a top 27 pick for sure on draft night.
King would be the perfect solution in the Eagles efforts to slow down Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant finally and pair well against the other NFC East additions such as Brandon Marshall and Terrelle Pryor.
Plus, who wouldn’t love watching King make a clutch one-handed interception in the end zone in midnight green?
2nd round (43rd overall): Dalvin Cook, running back, Florida State
I know what you’re already thinking when reading this pick. No way he makes it past the first-round. Don’t be so sure on that.
I had Dalvin Cook to PHI in 2nd round in last mock draft in Jan. Have seen/heard zero reason to move him up from there.
— Jeff Risdon (@JeffRisdon) March 21, 2017
With repeated shoulder injuries, poor combine performance and a long rap sheet of off-field issues, there’s a very great chance Cook falls to the second-round. Lingering injuries for running backs always drop them in the draft (recent ex: Jay Ajayi and Jordan Howard). Now pick 43 might be a stretch for him to fall, but don’t rule it out.
Cook also has noticeable fumble issues (14 in 763 touches), but his production on the field cannot be denied. Cook has 686 rushing attempts for 2,876 yards, 2,304 yards after contact and 46 touchdowns. On 35.8 percent of Cook’s runs, he wasn’t tackled (third best in the draft class behind Kareem Hunt and Elijah Hood).
People view Cook’s pass-blocking as a reason why he might not be a true three-down back, but that’s an overreaction. In 100 pass-protection snaps this past season, Cook only allowed two sacks and nine total pressures behind one of the worst offensive lines in the nation.
Who wouldn’t love a running back with this type of ability out of the backfield?
3rd round (69th overall acquired from Tenn.) Ahkello Witherspoon, cornerback, Colorado
The Eagles continue their addition of bigger cornerbacks, who will thrive in press-coverage that is a necessity in Schwartz’s scheme. Witherspoon (6’3, 198 lbs.) here at 69th overall is perfect value for the Eagles in their need of securing starting outside corners.
Witherspoon has improved each year since he’s been giving playing time. After allowing 37 receptions on 60 targets and giving up 526 yards in addition to three touchdowns in 2015, Witherspoon bounced back in 2016 only allowing 28 receptions on 88 targets for 411 yards and two touchdowns.
The strongest part of Witherspoon’s game is his ability to jump up and rack up pass-defenses (17 in his two seasons as a starter with 14 coming alone in 2016).
The jump Witherspoon made in 2016 only shines a light on his overall potential and commitment to improving each season. Witherspoon could end up being the steal of this historic cornerback class here in the third-round.
3rd round (99th overall acquired from Balt.): Tarrell Basham, defensive end, Ohio
Basham is a great developmental pass-rusher in this year’s class. With a 4.70 in the 40-yard dash, Basham is a great fit in Schwartz’s ‘wide-nine’ scheme with his speed.
He finished his collegiate career at Ohio with 24.5 sacks. Basham has the strength and length (6’4, 269 lbs.) to thrive with his athleticism off the edge and generate a good amount of pressures.
During the 2016 season, Basham had 383 pass-rushing snaps. He recorded ten sacks and 71 total pressures during those snaps. On 257 run-stop snaps, Basham had 15 total stops.
4th round (119th overall): Shelton Gibson, wide receiver, West Virginia
Gibson was one of the best deep threats in the nation this past season, even though he didn’t receive many of these opportunities as he should have, which could be blamed on the weaker arm quarterback Skyler Howard.
Gibson (5’11, 191 lbs.) had 29 deep targets in 2016 with 17 of those targets being catchable. He caught all 17 of them for 726 yards and eight touchdowns.
Gibson gives the Eagles a deep threat they can develop to eventually either replace Torrey Smith on the outside, or Jordan Matthews in the slot since the team isn’t married long-term to either of the two.
Remember those bubble screens Doug Pederson loved to call although they never seemed to work? Gibson can change that.
4th round (139th overall): Eddie Jackson, safety, Alabama
Many might question drafting a safety this high in the draft with other needs on the roster, but it’s actually a good pick for depth purposes and developing a player who could be a future starter.
Malcolm Jenkins will be 30-years old come December and was the subject of trade talks revolving around ex-Saints and now current Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks this offseason. Jackson would be a good choice to develop behind Jenkins for the future or in case of injury since the Eagles depth at safety is pretty awful.
Jackson (6’0, 201 lbs.) only played eight games in 2016 after suffering a broken leg, which ultimately may drop him here to this pick in the fourth. Jackson recorded 24 tackles and one interception that he returned for a touchdown. He does benefit the special teams as well as he returned two punts for touchdowns this past season.
If Jackson does indeed replace Jenkins some day, at least he offers the same type of ball skills as him too.
5th round (155th overall): Alex Anzalone, linebacker, Florida
After trading Kendricks earlier in the draft, the Eagles will need to find his replacement. His heir apparent won’t have to play more than 27 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, which is the percentage Kendricks played.
Anzalone (6’3, 241 lbs.) has a lot of upside and his career at Florida was derailed by injuries. Anzalone only has suited up for 18 career games in his four seasons at Florida, but that hasn’t stopped NFL scouts from noticing the talent he possesses according to NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein.
“You saw at (Senior Bowl) practice how gifted he is athletically. He just has to prove he can stay on the field,” an NFC Personnel Director told Zierlein.
6th round (194th overall): DeAngelo Brown, defensive tackle, Louisville
Brown might just be a Beau Allen clone, so it’s understandable if the Eagles pass on him here since Schwartz seems to prioritize pass-rushing skills from his interior lineman rather than run-stuffing abilities.
Brown (6’1, 317 lbs.) would help ease the loss of Bennie Logan in the run-stop department on a rotational basis, which is good value for a sixth-round pick.
On 323 run snaps, Brown had a total of 20 stops and only missed four tackles on these snaps in 2016. With Beau Allen out for an extended period of time with a pectoral injury, which looks to carry over into the season and the fact that he’s on the last year of his rookie deal, Brown might be the depth the Eagles need along the interior line.
7th round (230th overall): Zach Banner, offensive tackle, USC
Banner is a developmental tackle and will most likely serve as just a swing tackle at the next level. Banner is solid in pass-protection, especially in the Trojans pass-happy offense and has the numbers to back it up.
Banner (6’8, 353 lbs.) was on the field for 423 pass-blocking snaps in 2016. He allowed two sacks and 11 total pressures allowed. Banner’s biggest flaw is his knack for tallying up penalties.
Banner recorded 31 penalties as a three-year starter, so Jeff Stoutland will have to work with him on his discipline.
Mandatory Photo Credits: Jennifer Buchanan/USA Today Sports Images