The Eagles are coming off a very busy month of March and now enter the business end of the offseason. After some impressive free agent additions and some upsetting goodbyes, the team are primed for an exciting draft, even with their lack of capital. But will the team decide to venture in a new direction? Let’s take a look.
R1 P32: DE, Harold Landry, Boston College
Two first-round defensive ends in two years? It’s not as unlikely as you think. Derek Barnett appears to be the heir to the throne and while Brandon Graham’s big payday continues to allude him in Philadelphia, the potential loss of Michael Bennett could leave the team lacking in Schwartz’s most important defensive department. The rotation of defensive ends was a huge reason behind the dominance displayed last year and with Curry gone and both Long and Graham’s time in Philly looking anything but securely long-term, they would be wise to develop the future while the pressure is off and the vets can thrive.
With their first round pick carrying more weight than ever, the team opt to bring in a former Boston College Eagle in Harold Landry. While there are a flurry of defensive ends with fantastic upside, none may be more prolific in getting to the quarterback than the man who led the nation in sacks (16.5) in 2016. An Ankle injury may have stubbed his draft stock, but it didn’t stop him rebounding to rack up five sacks in eight games in 2017, exuding a slightly more elusive style of play.
With 48 tackles for a loss, 25 sacks and 10 forced fumbles in his 38 career games played, Landry simply decimated the AAC with impressive bend and an explosive first step. The Eagles have a terrorizing run defense as it is, but if they can add in a player who can finish what Curry took so long to, then the pass-rush will know no limits with so many weapons outside to account for.
R4 P30: S, Armani Watts, Texas A&M
With Jaylen Watkins fleeing the nest and Corey Graham yet to be resigned, the Eagles are once again down to bare bones at Safety. Malcolm Jenkins is easily the team’s most versatile and impactful player, but what made him so lethal in 2017 was having a back-line consisting of McLeod/Watkins/Graham which allowed Jenkins to drop inside or wherever Schwartz needed him to wreak havoc. The team need a future-proof plan at safety and Armani Watts could be just that.
The four-year starter earned third-team AP All-American honors in 2017 along with an ALL-SEC selection, starting 12 games and amassing 87 tackles, 10 for a loss, 4 picks, 5 PBU’s, 2 forced fumbles and a pair of blocked kicks. Watts hits hard and has the instincts of a corner perfectly intertwined with the physicality of a safety. He was also the only active FBS player with at least 300 tackles, 10 picks and six forced fumbles during his career.
Watts may not be the most secure tackler in his class, but his all-or-nothing playing style would fit perfectly in a back-line of proven veterans that would nurture that aggression into production.
R4 P32: LB, Shaquem Griffen, Central Florida
By now, we all know the remarkable story of Shaquem Griffen. After losing his left hand to a prenatal condition, Griffen wouldn’t let circumstance define him. At every hurdle and window of adversity, he has conquered confidently. Whether it was being named AAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2016, leading UCF with 57 solo tackles and 11.5 sacks, or by breaking out even further in 2017 by leading the team in sacks again to go with his 74 tackles (13.5 for a loss), Griffen has done nothing but turn heads.
At the combine, his story opened another chapter. Most concerns tend to be based around his ability to finish without a second hand, but it hasn’t stopped him this far. The Eagles broached the linebacker position with the acquisition of Paul Worrilow, but developing a player behind the starting trio would be a great idea and Griffen could possess the most potential and highest work-rate of any linebacker in his class. Besides, everyone loves an underdog….right, Philly?
R5 P32: TE, Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin
My fifth round selection has not wavered since my first mock, even with the signing of Richard Rodgers. The Eagles have lost both Trey Burton and Brent Celek and while Rodgers is a reliable pair of hands, he will not bring the explosive versatility that Burton once did.
Enter Troy Fumagalli, one of the NCAA’s most exciting receiving tight ends. Standing at 6’6, 248 lbs, it’s hard to believe that this young man amassed 1,627 receiving yards during his career, averaging 12.9 yards per catch…and he did so with nine fingers.
Not only is Fumagalli a stunning receiving prospect who has great acceleration, intuitive route-running and attacks the high-point consistently, but he’s an esteemed blocker too.
R6 P32 WR, Daurice Fountain, Northern Iowa
A small-school sleeper in every sense of the word, Fountain could be seen as a project deep-threat prospect for the Eagles. At 6’1, 210 lbs, Fountain has the makeup of a burner. A true athlete in every sense of the word, he may not possess the ball-skills needed to make an immediate impact, but nor did Shelton Gibson.
The first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference honoree snagged 66 receptions for 843 yards and 12 scores in his final season with Northern Iowa and while many will see him as a one-dimensional athlete, his impressive Shrine game outing that saw him make a stunning 38 yard catch en-route to a 61-yard game will have certainly quietened that notion a little. Fountain could be a perfect fit for the Eagles, who love late-round receivers who bring what I like to call ‘the Chris Hogan effect.’
R7 P32: CB, Davontae Harris, Illinois State
The Eagles need to find a replacement for Patrick Robinson and while shifting Jalen Mills inside is an option, an insurance policy wouldn’t go amiss. Enter Davontae Harris. Instead of talking about statistics or strengths and weaknesses, here’s a feature I wrote after having a conversation with one of the most composed players I have ever spoken to.
What do you think? Do you like this Mock Draft? Be sure to let me know in the comments!
**As a side note, I will be publishing a FREE NFL DRAFT GUIDE for all 40 cornerbacks who attended the NFL Combine. This will be available for download on Sunday!.**
Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports