The NFL Combine has been and gone and the player stock market is moving as fast as it will this offseason, with talent evaluators and fans alike all trying to sift through the biggest movers from the last week. For the Eagles, a lot has changed since our last mock. Several contract extensions, partnered with a few goodbyes and the arrival of two compensatory picks have changed the landscape somewhat. But without further ado, here’s how I would approach the NFL Draft if I were in the shoes of Howie Roseman.
Round 1, pick 25: LB, Devin Bush Jr, Michigan
Undoubtedly one of the combine’s biggest winners, the 5’11, 234 lbs, set a scintillating 4.43-second 40-yard dash time which left fans purring. This shouldn’t come as a shock though, as Bush was an absolute menace during his time as a Wolverine. Just like his Father, he was a standout in every sense. Named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 with 66 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks, this fiery prospect brings the heat on every snap with some fantastic sideline-to-sideline speed.
If the Eagles lose Jordan Hicks, it will be down to Paul Worrilow and Nigel Bradham to keep the LB corps together while Malcolm Jenkins presumably evaporates that 3rd role in nickel formation looks. Bush would be a long-term solution who could start right away as a polished run defender, complimenting Bradham’s skillset and offering some much needed flexibility to a drying linebacker spot.
Round 2, pick 53: Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State
A disappointing combine is exactly what the Doctor ordered for the Eagles. The DT position is as deep as any in this year’s class and it’s seem some huge changes in momentum with an injury to Jeffery Simmons likely pushing names up boards. Jones should still be available in the second round and would provide a very aggressive skillset.
Jones is someone that has an electric first step and shoots into gaps fearlessly. Strong footwork and a nice array of jab steps help him fire into the backfield with ease, denting the chests of offensive linemen. He’s a pass-rush specialist in every sense of the word (Cc: his 8.5 sack, 13 TFL season in 2018), but his lack of size (6’3, 295 lbs) could hurt him as a run defender.
However, we’ll touch in that later because while putting on weight could see a decline in that explosiveness that makes Jones so dangerous, I’ve come up with a contingency plan…
Round 2, pick 57: Emanuel Hall, WR, Missouri
Enough beating around the bush. The Eagles need a speed guy and they haven’t been able to find one in three years. It’s time to acknowledge that actually investing substantial resources into this position would help solve that, and this 6’2, 200 lbs, receiver ticks every box.
Hall averaged 22 yards per reception last year and although he’s not the most well-rounded receiver who could improve his ability to haul the ball in on comebacks and curls and remain physical through the stem, this is a guy who has blazing speed and can generate separation at the line with ease…and frankly, that’s all Carson Wentz needs right now, with the rest of the offense all but set up for success.
Round 4, pick 127: Tytus Howard, OT, Alabama State
I don’t think the need to replace Peters is as dramatic as everyone is making out. Vaitai has been more than serviceable and the development of Mailata will be an intriguing storyline to follow. But in-between those two, lies Tytus Howard. Many point to his lack of length being an issue, but the fact that this man has gone from playing QB, to WR, to tackle, gives him a trait of athleticism few will match.
Standing at 6’5, 322 lbs, Howard is lethal against the run because of how quick he can get out of his stance. He could be a great situational player for the Eagles, or even someone (like Donald Penn) who could potentially seek a role as a scoring tackle in such a creative offense. Is a gadget lineman a thing? It is now.
Round 4, pick 138: Tray’veon Williams, RB, Texas A&M
Williams has rapidly developed into one of my draft crushes this year. After becoming the first true freshman in Aggies history to run for over 1,000 yards, he took his game up a notch. As a Junior in 2018, he really showcased his versatility, ending that season with a stunning 1,524 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 252 carries. He also caught 27 passes for 278 yards.
Williams is a deceptively quick back who has no problem playing mind-games with his acceleration. If a defender is beginning to close, he’s able to turn on the afterburner and blaze into the sunset.
He’s not the most dynamic runner, but as someone that has great lateral speed, Williams could fill the void left by Darren Sproles, while becoming a huge playmaker in the open-field on screens and such. He’s not the bell-cow the Eagles need just yet, but in their current bizarre backfield situation, he wouldn’t take long to become their primary playmaker.
Round 5, pick 163: Sheldrick Redwine, S, Miami
Another big combine winner, Redwine should have Eagles fans love-drunk. A downhill Safety who hits hard and has the size and range needed to hold his own as a single-high, Redwine could be a real bargain in the fifth round.
He has experience in both man and zone coverage and can hold his own against bigger receivers and running backs. His tackling angles can be sporadic at times, but it’s hard to find someone as well-rounded as Redwine without spending a top pick. His 64 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, three interceptions and one forced fumble during 2018 do nothing but highlight that nature and Redwine would be a fantastic developmental prospect…which is exactly what the Eagles are calling for.
Round 6, pick 197: Armon Watts, DT, Arkansas
Enter the DT solution. The Eagles need more than just one and instead of overshooting in round 1/2, it makes sense to hit one niche and then use another pick to fill another, utilizing free agency to find the well-rounded, impact player they need right away.
Watts has the versatility to play wherever needed along the defensive line and after finally earning a starting role in 2018, led the team with 3 forced fumbles and 7 tscks, alongside his 49 tackles and 8.5 for a loss.
His accurate hand-placement and ability to stride into the backfield with power stands out on tape and although his lack of experience could haunt him, Watts has the power, frame and size to take on double-teams and allow the rest of the line to feast…just as he did in 2018. He’s not going to be a gap-filling run defender, but he will detract enough attention off the shoulders of Cox and the DE’s to at least inject some explosiveness to the front four.
Round 6, pick 208: Easton Stick, QB, North Dakota State
Well, quarterback may actually be a need after all. If Nick Foles is all but certain to waltz into the sunset, we’re forgetting that Nate Sudfeld is a restricted free agent. If the Eagles bring him back, their progression system has worked perfectly and they’ll need a new developmental arm to sit behind Carson Wentz and ‘Nate the great’. Meet a former apprentice of Wentz, Easton Stick.
Stick is a dual-threat QB that like Wentz, helped obliterate the FCS level of college Football. Significantly shorter than Wentz, Stick is also more inaccurate and used to show a tendency to want to do it all. However, that’s not so much the case anymore. He’s proven that he can make all the throws in the book, is very athletic and has a strong pocket presence, but completing 61% of passes will have scouts guessing.
Stick is a true developmental talent and the Bison offense carries many of the same traits that Pederson’s does. With familiarity with Wentz a focal point, why not groom the next backup by rekindling some Deja Vu?