After suffering through a Rams-Patriots snooze-fest, football fans are chomping at the bit for more football to take the sting out of the winter months. From now until the 2019 NFL Draft in April, mock drafts will abound and speculative journalism will be at all all-time high as fans and teams alike try to sift through the throngs of eligible draftees to find the next great star. This series will be an intro for those looking to get a grasp of some of the better options that will be available for the Birds during the draft. As always, draft projections are never perfect, and even the most thorough analyses can let future Pro-Bowlers slip through the cracks. So, if you feel that I’ve missed someone, gotten it wrong, or would just like me to do a write-up of your favorite under-the-radar prospect, let me know in the comments below!
Heading into the 2019 NFL Draft, Philadelphia holds six selections, not including compensatory picks which have yet to be calculated. According to the most recent compensatory projections list by Over The Cap, the Eagles are set to receive three compensatory picks: a 4th-round pick for Trey Burton, and two sixth-rounders for Beau Allen and Patrick Robinson. The Birds were able to replace Beau Allen with the Haloti Ngata signing and may lose one of their two 6th-round compensatory picks because of it. As of now, their draft positioning is as follows:
|First Round||Pick 25 (25)|
|Second Round||Pick 21 (53)|
|Pick 25 (57)|
|Fourth Round||Pick 25 (121)|
|Fifth Round||Pick 25 (153)|
|Sixth Round||Pick 25 (185)|
This draft doesn’t have a whole lot of offensive line superstars, but it’s not an all-around weak class. This group has some depth and there figures to be a lot of options available for teams shopping for an eventual starter on day two of the draft. With so many teams trying to protect their brand-new, young Quarterbacks, some mocks are predicting a run on tackles late in the first round. Projecting offensive lineman can be a tricky task for scouts. Aside from the handful of prospects that stand out from the bunch, teams often select lineman based on fit or certain traits. The Eagles have always placed a premium on athleticism and versatility. They love to get their big boys moving and it shows up in the run scheme. Philadelphia also tends to take linemen with some length to them, especially on the outside — Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Matt Pryor and Jordan Mailata all being over 6’6″ with wingspans to boot. Howie Roseman and Jeff Lurie are two stringent believers in building a team from the inside out, and so, even when it isn’t obvious, the offensive line is always high up on the list of draft targets.
A position that has been mostly stable for the Birds over the last few seasons, the interior of the offensive line might not seem like a need on the surface. Add that to the fact that Philadelphia has only drafted one guard since 2013. However, for the past few years, the Eagles have had a rotation at left guard. Stephen Wisniewski has been the most consistent player at the position, but Isaac Seumalo has gotten his opportunities as well. Even Chance Warmack got in on the action in 2018. The team could use some stability at that position going forward. Concerning the right side, Brandon Brooks has been the epitome of dependability. However, he tore his Achilles in the Eagles divisional round matchup against the Saints and faces a lengthy rehab process to get healthy for the 2019 season. It’s no guarantee that he’ll be ready to go for the season opener. The Eagles also have to contend with center Jason Kelce mulling retirement.
The team has some young pieces coming up in the ranks, but mostly at the tackle position, and could definitely use an infusion of new faces to develop behind a stalwart group of starters. As with every year, depth along the offensive line makes a world of difference for a team in the thick of the playoff race come December. The 2019 draft is not a particularly strong one for interior linemen, and so two things could happen. The first: teams will start reaching for guards early on in the draft, most likely early on day two. Or, teams will be happy to let interior lineman fall to them in the draft while they clamber to swipe skill position and defensive players. The second bodes well for the Eagles. If Howie is still looking for guards late on the third day, the options left on the board will be no guarantee to make the roster. Put simply, it’s second day, early third day or bust for dependable interior line help.
Cody Ford – Oklahoma
Walter Football Rank: 1 (OG), 3 (OT)
CBS Rank: 3 (OT)
DraftTek Rank: 8
The Draft Network Rank: 2 (OT)
Range: First Round
Size: 6’4″, 330 lbs
Breakdown: Ford played tackle for Oklahoma, but due to his shape and sometimes clunky footwork many project him starting on the inside in the NFL. While he’s probably not the best tackle in the class, he could very well be the best guard. He dealt with injuries in 2016 and 2017 but took his game to another level when healthy in 2018. Many see him as a candidate to shoot up draft boards as the process goes on. He’s a mountain of a man, but moves very well for his size and is surprisingly light on his feet. Overall, he’s a big, physical mauler with a mean streak.
Pros: Strong as all hell, will be interesting to see what he benches at the combine. Conceptually a very quick learner — does not look like a one-year starter. Finishes blocks and plays with a real edge in the run game. Was asked to move a lot at Oklahoma and has shown he can get out in space and lay a block. Looks comfortable finding and chasing defenders at the second level, although he can come in a bit hot. Solid pass protector that can verge on outstanding once he gets his hands on you. Has an incredible death grip and will not let go. Strong punch and has no trouble turning defenders on impact. Has the skill set to be a dominant power run blocker, but also ran a ton of zone at Oklahoma. Will chase plays and get involved 20+ yards down the field.
Cons: Only one full year as a starter, didn’t face any premier pass rushers. Footwork could be cleaned up, can be overactive. On the first step, lateral movement is less impressive than north-south. His feet can get behind when he’s locked on to a defender. Can be overeager at the second level and whiff on blocks. He’s not the quickest off the line. Jolts upwards out of his stance in pass blocking and will need to work on staying low through his kick-slide. Pad level can be high overall and leveraging bigger NFL defenders will take some work. Susceptible to speed rushers.
How he fits: As an offensive tackle, I think the Eagles would pass on Ford for some other options on the table. As a guard, he’s a fantastic fit. The Birds could really use some nastiness up front and Ford would bring that day one. For a team looking to get their run game going, a big, scrappy interior lineman with the ability to get ahead of steam ticks all the boxes. Howie will love his ability to block in space. The ability to play tackle or guard will also come as a plus. Some teams will still see Ford as a tackle, and as he continues to rise up draft boards I think 25 is too late to take a stab at him. If he is still there then I think this is a great option for Philly, if not the flashiest. This is a pick that pays dividends for years to come.
Cody Ford’s feet are 🔥🔥…and he’s listed 346 pounds! This is dominance pic.twitter.com/hmfpClu1YQ
— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) December 10, 2018
Dalton Risner – Kansas State
Walter Football Rank: –
CBS Rank: 7 (OT)
DraftTek Rank: 7
The Draft Network Rank: 3 (OT)
Range: First to Second Round
Size: 6’5″, 308 lbs
Breakdown: Risner is a mean, physical player with great hands and good football IQ. What he lacks in footwork he makes up for in hustle and timing. One of the more consistent lineman over the last few years, playing tackle in college displayed some of the limitations he has in terms of length. A move inside to guard or center should mask those problematic areas.
Pros: Multiple scouts have made reference to his intelligence. Apart from his footwork, a very polished technical player. Very good hands, both timing, and placement are excellent. Fantastic anchor, hard to move once he sets his feet and rarely beaten by bull-rushes. A real mauler in the run game. Can get after defenders in space, really a dominant puller when he can build up a head of steam. Does not panic when he loses his one-on-ones on the outset and will work to regain leverage. Plays with an edge — chatty, play till the whistle and doesn’t like to get beat. Personality reminds me a bit of Lane Johnson. Competitive nature and play strength are pluses. While minimal, fared well against the top pass rushers he faced — including Montez Sweat. Has college experience at center and tackle.
Cons: A lot of Risner’s weaknesses will be hidden by a move inside, but since there’s no tape of him at guard, it’s tricky to make note of. Footwork is a weakness, both in pass protection and in run blocking. Has pretty boxy hips and can get beat by rushers with a quick first step or an array of moves. Not overly athletic, more noticeable as a tackle. His lack of play length shows up when defenders shed in the run game. Inconsistent pad level. Can get chippy, for better and for worse. Older rookie, will be 24 for his first year.
How he fits: For teams that see Risner as an NFL right tackle, dichotomy of play length to actual size will be an issue. For those that see him as a guard, they may see his versatility as a huge bonus and overlook his shortcomings. Generally the Eagles would like a more impressive athlete than Risner, however, his film shows a more capable athlete than the tests will suggest. His ability to pull and play multiple positions across the line will make Howie’s eyes light up. He was also a solid performer at the Senior Bowl (at tackle, mind you) and the Philly scouts will have made sure to do their research. Right now, he’s predicted to go close to the top of the second round. Some teams may see him as a tackle and give him a look in the first round. In reality, the number 25 pick is too rich for Risner as a guard, but if he falls to the Eagles in the second, this pick makes sense.
Dalton Risner getting nasty at Senior Bowl practice.
— Pete Francis (@Pete_Francis) January 23, 2019
Chris Lindstrom – Boston College
Walter Football Rank: 2
CBS Rank: 3
DraftTek Rank: 3
The Draft Network Rank: 1
Range: Second to Third Round
Size: 6’4″, 305 lbs
Breakdown: Lindstrom is a very technically sound guard with blinding feet and great hands. While he’s not the most physically dominant lineman, he has very few weaknesses and will make a seamless transition to the pros. While Boston College’s offensive game plan didn’t have him dropping into pass protection very often, his run blocking is excellent and he definitely has the tools to be an above average pass blocker.
Pros: Four-year starter. One of the few natural guards at the top of this class. Pad level is excellent, rarely too high. Works very well to the second level using leverage and footwork. Really explodes out of his stance. Does well to set up defenders for doubles — seems really fun to play beside. Really shows his ability to move when pulling for sweeps. Sets a good edge with technical ability and leverage, if not sheer strength. Can get driven back when pass setting, but recovers very well due to quick feet and high effort level. Does a really good job keeping his hands moving and won’t get beat often by swims and spins, also provides great opportunity to recover when beat. Has experience at tackle.
Cons: Really not that much to speak of here. Will struggle a tad in zone blocking schemes. Lateral movement is a bit tight in the hips. Doesn’t have great length. Due to scheme, has limited experience in pass protection for a man with as many starts as he has, but not really a weakness. May not have the highest ceiling of all the available prospects, but probably has the highest floor.
How he fits: 51 straight starts at Boston College is exactly the production the Eagles love to see. Lindstrom was arguably the best lineman at the Senior Bowl, where Philadelphia is an active recruiter. He has been mocked to Philly in the second round on a few occasions. The offense does run a lot of zones, but I think the concern with Lindstrom’s zone blocking is more due to him having very few weaknesses than it actually being problematic. Consistency is key for this man. There’s a reason Pederson and Stoutland kept coming back to Wis, and I think it’s the same reason they’ll love this BC product. I really think this is a great option in the second round for the Birds if he lasts that long.
— The Draft Network (@TheDraftNetwork) January 24, 2019
Michael Deiter – Wisconsin
Walter Football Rank: 5
CBS Rank: 2
DraftTek Rank: 11
The Draft Network Rank: 3
Range: Third to Fourth Round
Size: 6’6″, 328 lbs
Breakdown: An aggressive, nasty blocker with imposing size, Deiter has been a consistent starter at Wisconsin and has helped paved the way for years of successful rushing attacks. He’s very mobile and has a great get-off; overall, a very good athlete for his size. He looked much better at his time at guard than at tackle in 2017 when lack of length showed up on film.
Pros: Has experience playing all three positions. Dominant when he gets his hands on second level players. Played in a very diverse run scheme and showcased ability in all areas of the run game: pulling, lateral movement, hip bend. Really nasty, will wear on defenders with repeated effort and play finishing ability. Has the grit to get inside defenders heads. Shows a strong anchor overall, but not a dominant pass blocker. Hard worker, finishes plays.
Cons: Not the most decisive out of his stance and was embarrassed at the Senior Bowl by Charles Omenihu in one-on-ones because of it. Aggression can cause him to over-commit — also showed up at the Senior Bowl. Foot speed is a plus, but can be overactive in that area. Does not have the length that many scouts like to see; relatively short arms. Can get beat by quicker defensive linemen.
How he fits: Athleticism is on par with what the Birds usually shop for. He was taken advantage of a bit during the Senior Bowl, especially in pass protection. I think he may take some time to develop as an NFL starter, but could be a great option for the Eagles later in the draft. Howie will like that he has been a consistent starter for years. He actually holds the Wisconsin record for most starts. In terms of scheme fit, there’s not much Deiter can’t do in the run game. With the complexity of the Eagles rushing attack that’s bound to resonate. He may be gone by the 4th round, but if the Eagles come into a third-round pick that could be the right price.
Michael Deiter tries to take your soul. pic.twitter.com/C0b18XFo5P
— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) January 11, 2019
Connor McGovern – Penn State
Walter Football Rank: 7
CBS Rank: –
DraftTek Rank: 4
The Draft Network Rank: 24
Range: Third to Fifth Round
Size: 6’5″, 323 lbs
Breakdown: McGovern is a highly intelligent lineman with great vision and a good feel for scheme He won’t over-power his opposition and probably needs to add weight (323 seems generous to me), but has a quick get-off and really takes care of his assignments. His valuation is all over the place and whether teams see him as a guard or a center will have a huge role on when he goes.
Pros: Really quick out of the blocks and has good speed for a guard. Has good hand placement and fights until the whistle. Active feet. Skillset fits nicely with a zone heavy run scheme. Great balance, rarely gets caught between steps. Made a pretty seamless transition from guard to center and back, and has the versatility to both in the NFL — although he’s projected to play left guard. Diagnoses blitzes well and helps where he is needed. Started all three years at Penn State, began at guard as a true freshman. Vocal leader along the offensive line.
Cons: Isn’t really a physically impressive athlete. Size is a limitation: doesn’t have the best anchor and will get out-muscled. Will have a harder time outsmarting defensive lineman in the NFL, and will, therefore, have to work on his physicality. Will get beat with speed in pass protection. A better run blocker than pass protector, but doesn’t really uproot people.
How he fits: A local kid born and raised in Pennsylvania, so it would be fitting for him to continue playing close to home. This is a guy with the intelligence and speed to thrive in the Eagles scheme, which might not be the case for other franchises. Some consider McGovern to be the best center in the class. For others, he is a mid-round guard. I don’t think he’s a day one starter for the Birds, but he has the versatility and the smarts to be a great backup until he can better learn the role and add some weight to his frame. To his credit, he has gotten bigger every year and decided to leave college a year early, so is younger than most of the other prospects. The truth is that teams that are in need of a true center will be willing to spend a pick on him before the Eagles will. If the top half of our draft is defense and skill-position heavy, Howie will look for offensive line help in the fourth and fifth round. McGovern may still be there if teams see weight and physicality as an issue.
Signature play: I could only find full-game film of McGovern:
Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports