Well now that the Eagles are out of the playoffs and the 2019/20 season is finished, it’s time to look to what they may do during the offseason. This year’s offseason is easily the biggest the Eagles have faced in years with so many questions surrounding so many players, it puts the pressure on every little decision they make before the start of the 2020/21 season.
Arguably the biggest part of the offseason is this year’s draft. The Eagles have a tendency of struggling to make use of valuable picks and with an aging roster, Howie, Doug and the rest of the crew cannot afford to fail in this year’s draft. The Eagles have 10 picks in total:
1 1st rounder
1 2nd rounder,
2 3rd rounders
3 4th rounders
2 5th rounders
and a 6th rounder.
These picks give the Eagles the perfect way to fill roles that they desperately need and also start to work on the needs they will need to fill in the coming few years.
With all this being said, welcome to the first of many mock drafts I will be doing on the website. You’ll probably see a lot of changes from this mock draft to the last one I do in mid-April because a lot of the free agency questions will be answered and therefore, may sprout up different needs than what we needed at this current stage. Shall we get into it?
Round 1 – Pick 21 – Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson:
If any of you have laid their eyes on other mock drafts so far, you won’t be surprised to see the player I have picked at this point in the draft. This draft class is seriously rich with wide receiving talent and the Eagles need to take advantage of this, considering they’ve already lost Hollins this season and I cannot imagine they bring back Nelson Agholor.
There’s a decent chance that at number 21 we have a choice between Higgins and Henry Ruggs from Alabama, but it’s a lot more likely that Higgins is still available at this point and that’s why I’ve gone for him. The big receiver comes from highly rated school Clemson, standing at 6 foot 4 and weighing 215 pounds.
Now you may read the words ‘big receiver’ and think why do the Eagles need another when they have Alshon for another year, the drafted Arcega-Whiteside last year and then have two big tight ends in Ertz and Goedert. Higgins is a very deceiving receiver given his size. He’s a fantastic athlete who displays great speed and brilliant deep tracking ability.
Higgins is great with his feet and can easily punish sloppy press from the DB’s with his footwork at the line of scrimmage. He loves to drop his weight at the top of his routes and is exceptional at winning contested catches across the field. The most deceiving thing from Higgins, considering his size, is his unbelievable RAC ability and defenders find it really difficult to wrap him up after he’s caught the ball.
The one thing all Eagles fans can agree on is how badly the receivers this year were at catching the ball, but that isn’t an issue for Higgins, who has seriously secure hands and hardly ever tries to catch the ball with his chest. He isn’t scared of contact and will happily put his body into danger to complete his route and play. His body control is exceptional for someone of his size and it allows him to put his body in awkward positions to complete catches from throws like back shoulder ones.
Higgins knows how to score touchdowns, equalling the Clemson TD record set by DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins, so he’s keeping good company up on that Clemson record books. Higgins also offers you brilliant red zone ability, especially when running fade and slant routes, and with his size, gives you another option if you were to throw the ball into the air for him to catch.
Obviously, he isn’t a complete animal and does have flaws. One is the fact that, even though he’s great at punishing the press with his feet, he struggles to beat it with his hands and that shouldn’t be something he’s bad at considering his size. Another thing he struggles with is run blocking. it will need to be massively improved over the summer if he wants to be the complete receiver he can be.
He didn’t run a complete route tree at Clemson so you could class that as a worry about him, but in my eyes, he has the skills and talent to easily run whatever routes you want him to and this doesn’t worry me one bit. The only other thing I can say at this point, without the combine happening, etc, is that he does lose concentration on easy, short routes and it may lead to the odd mistake or dropped pass but listening to him in interviews and watching his focus and dedication, it wouldn’t surprise me that a move to the big league will make him more focused than ever.
In summary, Higgins isn’t your usual big man receiver, he has deceiving speed and athleticism that allows him to break the mold of a big man receiver and be used as a hybrid receiver that can play anywhere across the receiving roles. He isn’t like Alshon and he isn’t strictly like DJax but a mix of those guys…and that can only mean good things for such a dynamic offense.
Round 2 – Pick 53 – Ashtyn Davis, S, California
Do I truly believe Ashtyn Davis will fall to 53? No, I do not. I am so high on this guy right now, but that doesn’t mean the teams before the Eagles don’t have him above other safeties in this draft class. Most big boards have him just making the top 5 safeties so there is a chance that he falls to the Eagles, and if he does, I’ll be so happy.
Ashtyn comes from California, stands at 6 foot 1 and weighs 200 pounds. He’s the aggressive, driven, secure tackler that the Eagles are desperate for in the secondary. If he falls to 53, it’s a no brainer to take him.
Davis’s ability to initiate contact at the catch point and make a stand on the last line of defense is superb, with there being multiple times in his tape where he stops certain touchdowns as the last man.
His skills make him a perfect safety in a cover 2 system and is best at bursting downhill at receivers, closing them down if they’ve already caught the ball early on or closing down on receivers who are up for the catch. His support at stuffing runs in front of his face and stopping receivers from gaining more yards is highly impressive.
His man coverage skills are solid enough for the NFL and he has a great success rate at punishing QBs that produce poor throws to the receivers he’s on, whether that punishment is with an interception or a simple swat and broken up pass.
He will easily blow up both WRs and TEs on run supports and leave them stranded whilst he takes the runner down for little to no yardage, he reads play-action calls very well and hardly ever bites on them. He’s very quick and nimble on his feet, you’ll hardly ever see him planted in the ground during a play and he’s great at blitzing off the edge when needed to.
His toughness and will to just simply play the game, win his tackles, pick passes off and punish offensive players is something that all football players should take note of and strive towards. I’d compare him to the Liam Jenkins of safeties, he will never not give you 110%.
His versatility is a great asset of his. He has played at both safety and cornerback during his college career and whilst playing those positions he’s pretty much covered the entire field playing deep middle, deep half, quarters, nickel in man coverage and even some time as a nickel linebacker.
By no means is Ashtyn the perfect safety and he does have a major flaw in the fact that he doesn’t have the skill set to play as a single high safety, however, that problem is solved if the Eagles manage to keep Malcolm Jenkins around. Malcolm can play with Ashtyn in a 2-safety setup and then Malcolm can take the reins when we play with a single high safety.
Ashtyn isn’t burnt over the top by speedy receivers but on the odd occasion he can take weird angles on deep threat receivers which may cause him to miss a tackle or two but this is something that can be ironed out. He also struggles when he is put in the box and when he gets stuck in a block shedding situation on running plays.
The only other thing that Ashtyn does that annoys me is he doesn’t close down tight window catches, instead leaving them to complete the catch and go out of bounds, which could be quite costly in certain circumstances.
Other than that, Ashtyn, to me, is the perfect safety to take for the Eagles. His secure tackling and drive to do the best in every snap he plays is something the Eagles are screaming out for in that secondary. He and Malcolm would be a scary combination, a combination that may just inspire the rest of the secondary to pick their game up and improve for the team.
Continued on the page below.
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports