Four under-the-radar targets for the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the NFL Draft

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Mock draft season is in full swing and predicting how the first round of the NFL Draft will shake up is as popular as ever. Of course, it’s hard to accurately predict where players will end up, especially before free agency begins. However, after free agency concludes, that picture can become a little more clear.

The Eagles are in an interesting position this year. They’ll have to shave at least $10 million off to make room for the incoming rookies and get under the salary cap. Although, releasing Torrey Smith and releasing/retiring/restructuring Brent Celek will give them $9 million in savings.

Looming free agents Patrick Robinson, Nigel Bradham, Trey Burton, Lagarette Blount, and Beau Allen can’t all be back with the team next season. With only one selection in the first three rounds, the Eagles will need to make that selection count.

However, with not many holes to fill, Philadelphia can take a best player available approach with their first selection. Although linebacker and offensive tackle have been predicted lots for the Eagles, they may go in a different direction. So, with the 32nd pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select:

Derrius Guice- RB- LSU
Even though Philadelphia is stacked at the running back position, Guice could make a ton of sense come April. Corey Clement has been a revelation for the Eagles and will be a large part of their future going forward, however, he’s probably not a true three-down back. Philadelphia found success with their running back by committee approach last season and could look to add Guice to that rotation. Guice would be able to take over Blount’s spot this season, and could eventually split duties with Corey Clement going forward. This makes even more sense if the Eagles believe internally that they can’t afford to bring back Ajayi after next season.

Ronnie Harrison- S- Alabama
The two-time national champion started every single game for Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide squad. The Eagles are tight against the cap and no one is safe on the roster. After next season, Philadelphia will have Jay Ajayi, Brandon Graham, Ronald Darby and Jordan Hicks up for new deals. Something gotta give, and the Eagles could look at cutting Rodney McLeod in that offseason. Even though he’s been good for Philadelphia, the Eagles can save over $5 million if they cut him after next season. Harrison would also get snaps as a rookie playing in Corey Graham’s role and naturally take over for McLeod the following season.

Will Hernandez- G- UTEP
Hernandez makes sense for a long-term need at the left guard spot. Although Wisniewski is a good and cheap starter now, that may not be the case after next season. Considering that former 1st and 3rd round picks, Chance Warmack and Isaac Seumalo were unable to secure the starting job, Philadelphia doesn’t have an in-house replacement going forward. Unless of course, they believe Seumalo can become their starting left guard after next season. Hernandez’s stock shot up after a dominating performance at the Senior Bowl and he could find himself in first round consideration.

Maurice Hurst- DT- Michigan
I don’t believe Beau Allen will be back with the team next year. Some team is going to offer him a chance to compete for a starters job, which comes with starters money, and the Eagles can simply not give him either of those. With only Destiny Vaeao and Elijah Qualls behind Cox and Jernigan, the Eagles could look at Hurst in round one but, there’s no guarantee he falls to the Eagles. Schwartz loves to switch up defenders throughout the game and he’d love to add a player of Hurst’s talent to that defensive line. This would be an all-time luxury selection for the Eagles with no true need in the draft. Their defensive line rotation would be: Graham, Cox, Jernagin, Bennett, Barnett, Long, and Hurst.

 

Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

 

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