Mock Draft season is finally upon us and with the Senior Bowl taking place this weekend, the excitement surrounding this year’s class has gone through the roof. For the Eagles, this Draft carries a significant amount of weight. Cap space is minimal, holes are only getting bigger and Howie Roseman will have a lot of work to do. Here’s my first guess at how this year’s Eagles draft will play out.
Round 1 Pick 25: OT, Andre Dillard, Washington State
Jason Peters won’t be around forever and there’s a good chance he’s played his final snaps in an Eagles uniform. Even if the Eagles opted to move Vaitai up to a starting role, there’s a glaring lack of depth behind Big V and a franchise right tackle in Lane Johnson who battled injury this year. It’s not a sexy pick, but the Eagles built this team through the trenches.
Dillard comes in at 6’5, 306 lbs, but lacks the desired length in his frame. Although there are some clear fundamental setbacks in terms of his hand placement etc as of right now, he plays hard and is extremely athletic for his size and weight which is something Stoutland would covet. He’s a very raw prospect who gets bullied by bull-rushes and doesn’t have much to counter sheer power, but his athleticism could be invaluable. He wouldn’t be expected to start straight away and I think this could be a real blessing for an Eagles team who are looking to nurture their left tackle of the future, giving Stoutland time to groom this talented lineman.
Round 2 Pick 22: RB Devin Singletary, Florida Atlantic
WOAH DON’T FREAK OUT. Yes, round 2 is probably a little bit high for Singletary, but his stock has exploded in recent weeks and the Eagles really need to solidify their backfield plans moving forward. There needs to be a centerpiece to build around and I believe that ‘Motor’ could be exactly that.
Everyone’s favorite draft crush is really picking up steam, but the combine will be crucial. Singletary’s numbers are just ridiculous. Since 2016, he has the most rushing yards (4,459) and touchdowns (66) in FCS/FBS. His cuts are insanely quick and he reminds me a lot of Tarik Cohen. If the Eagles want to go all-in on a committee backfield, they really need to find a player to replace Sproles who can maybe pick up slightly more of the workload. FAU’s Singletary has the balance, elusiveness and burst to be the perfect fit in this offense.
Long speed would hurt, but who cares when you’re literally a human video game?
Round 2 Pick 25: DT, Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
A failed drugs test may hamper his draft stock, but this could only push him into the laps of a team craving some developmental depth. Lawrence is a true nose tackle. He eats up space, fils gaps and tackles like a vacuum cleaner just sucking up ballcarriers for fun. He doesn’t really pose much of a threat as a pass-rusher, which could limit his ceiling, but the Eagles don’t need a pass-rushing machine as much as they need someone to suck up double-teams and let Cox and company run rampant. Lawrence would be a great fit next to the starting duo and a much-needed upgrade over the current DT3/4 occupants.
Round 4 Pick 25 DE, Jalen Jelks, Oregon
Jelks had a great week of Senior Bowl practices that pushed his name even further into the spotlight. The man is a ticking time bomb and is lightning fast off the line. He uses every bit of his length to find leverage against more powerful tackles. With 15.5 tackles for loss in 2017, Jelks cemented himself as a penetrative defensive end who can hastily get into the backfield and cause disruption. He’s fun to watch, brings a lot of burst to the table and the Eagles need to find another long-term piece to partner with Derek Barnett.
Round 4 Pick 36: S, Darnell Savage, Maryland
Savage is an interesting name because there’s clearly a lot of room for improvement, but the skill set he does have is strong enough to at least be placed in contention to partner McLeod as the team’s third Safety. He has all the athletic traits a defensive coordinator could want, but his aggressive mentality means he’s often an all-or-nothing gambler. As a single Safety, this would haunt him. If the Eagles were to partner this secure tackler who at 5’11, has great range and an ability to pick off passes and track the ball well, with someone like Rodney McLeod, then they could have a really strong tandem for years to come as he grows, while Malcolm Jenkins continues to evolve as the ultimate hybrid.
Round 5 Pick 25: LB, Tyrel Dodson, Texas A&M
Dodson for me is a real sleeper. His 2017 tape was absolutely ridiculous at times and he showed up in a stunning way against Alabama. In 2018, things changed a little and his production dropped off. However, he still ranked third on the team in tackles and was awarded the Aggies’ ‘Defensive Playmaker’ Award at the team’s annual banquet. Dodson plays fast and has great instincts to play outside linebacker, which could really help shave some weight from the shoulders of Jenkins and Grugier-Hill. It will be interesting to see how he fares at the next level, especially as teams try to work out what happened to one of the most dominant defensive players in the SEC between 2017 and 2018. For the Eagles, it’s a risk worth taking.
Round 6 Pick 24: WR, Emanuel Hall, Missouri
The Eagles need wide receiver help. Mike Wallace may not return, the Mack Hollins injury saga was just bizarre and Shelton Gibson just can’t seem to earn a shot. Hall is explosive. This is a class filled with those big, rangy wide receivers who will bring the ‘star’ factor. Hall, meanwhile, is the ‘roadrunner’ receiver that the Eagles have been craving. He averaged over 20 yards per reception in both of his final years as a Tiger. At 6’3, 195 lbs, Hall has size worth salivating over. He’s got the frame to be far more than ‘just another speed guy’ and that’s the most attractive trait here. He can blow past press coverage, has dazzling deep speed and has a frame where if the right traits are coached, could see him turn into a future star.
Round 6 Pick 34: CB, Corey Ballentine, Washburn
It wouldn’t be a ‘Liam Jenkins Mock Draft’ without a cornerback, right? Ballentine may be one of my favorite sleepers this year and has seen his stock really rise in Mobile this week. At 5’11, 188 lbs, he has great size but also clocked a scintillating 21.6 MPH during Senior Bowl practices. A first-team All-MIAA DB as a junior, Ballentine plays with a chip on his shoulder and actually finished his career ranking second all-time in blocked kicks for the Ichabods. The Eagles should be sound at cornerback, but Ballentine brings some physicality and deep speed that would be welcomed in the ‘double-move’ era of Eagles secondary complaints.
Round 6 Pick 35: OG, Ben Powers, Oklahoma
Powers isn’t an overwhelmingly impressive athlete and won’t blow you away with power or technique. However, his ability to keep his head up, dissect the situation and place his hands accordingly buy him enough time to largely displace those concerns. What he does have in his corner is that he played in the Big 12 and was more than ‘good enough’. The Eagles may need some interior depth this year and if you have a player who can process the game quickly and make the right decisions, the physical traits may come later with some strong coaching.
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