Round 3 – Pick 85 – Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississipi State
The Eagles have two picks in the 3rd round, with the 2nd pick being a comp pick being projected for Nick Foles, so the next two picks can be interchangeable but I’ve gone for a cornerback over my second guy because cornerback is a position that’s needed right now to harden up a very shaky secondary.
The corner that I’ve picked is Cameron Dantzler from Mississipi State. Dantzler comes in at 6 foot 2 and 185 pounds. Dantzler has great passing defense skills, something the Eagles need considering that they were great at stuffing the run, but horrific at breaking up the passing game, allowing some bad QBs to tear them up during this past season.
Dantzler has great reach and is brilliant at disrupting passes at the catching point for receivers, facing the ball when he does rather than tracking the runner. His man coverage skills are very solid for the next level.
Dantzler excels in zone coverage and has a brilliant talent at reading a QB’s eyes and arms, predicting where he’ll be throwing the ball at the same time as the QB himself. He’ll pursue the ball brilliantly and will pounce on any mistake or even if there’s a slight chance of him swatting or picking the ball.
Dantzler is great at getting himself into a good position to react to routes and uses his feet well to create separation that helps him rather than the receiver. His break on the ball and hands at the catch point are up there with the best corners in this draft class and he does well to break passes up and pull at the ball.
Given his size, in terms of his height, Cameron does really well when having to put his body in awkward positions to play the ball or the receiver. He does very well at extending and maximizing his length if needed, which makes him a great asset at 6 foot 2.
He ticks all the boxes with his speed and acceleration to play the outside and to keep up with receivers in coverage and when he’s flat-footed, he doesn’t lack spring in his step so being flat-footed isn’t that bad for him compared to other corners.
He does really well when blitzing and hunts the ball well, always looking to take advantage of strip opportunities. Dantzler is nothing special at tackling but he’s solid enough and its an easily solvable issue for the higher level.
Dantzler does struggle with his physicality, he’s long but hasn’t got enough meat on the bones to be dominant on run support, he’ll break poor block attempts but if he gets locked up, he won’t get out of it with ease.
Like I just mentioned, his tackling is solid but not amazing, he won’t hit receivers and backs with force due to his lack of functional strength and he doesn’t have that aggressive nature that I was praising Ashtyn Davis for. He also does have trouble if a receiver quickly changes his route unexpectedly, say for instance if the opposition QB rolls out of the pocket and the receiver has to completely change his route, Dantzler may have a bit of lag when reacting to that change.
Overall Dantzler isn’t the polished corner that some Eagles will want from this draft, but his skills at breaking up passes and reading the QBs eyes and arm are exceptional and something the Eagles desperately need in the secondary at the moment.
Round 3 – Nick Foles Projected Comp Pick – Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Now some of you may be asking the question of why I am picking a running back so high, or at all when Miles Sanders had a potential OROTY season and Boston Scott had a breakout season that saved the Eagles’ season entirely. I’m picking a running back here because we still don’t know if Jordan Howard is coming back next year, and with the Eagles’ track record of letting their RB1 leave after their contract is up, something is telling me Howard isn’t staying in Philly.
The running back I have chosen to take to form a 3-man band with Sanders and Scott is Alabama running back prospect, Najee Harris. Harris stands at 6 foot 2 and weighs in at 230 pounds. Harris is a scary, big running back who can fit the role of power back perfectly for the Eagles.
Harris is a huge, huge dude for a running back but his skillset allows him to break the mold of a usual power back, his balance is exceptional for a man his size and the role he plays.
The way he never seems to outrun his blockers is very impressive and allows him to go untouched for as long as possible, and then when he does get tackled, he can fight for so many more yards because of his size. He’s also pretty damn creative in the open field, there have been times where he’s hurdled defenders when they go to attack his legs and he has a seriously nasty sidestep for a man of his stature.
He has serious skill for a power back and he is always falling forward despite his frame, which just shows how good his overall power is as a back. The Eagles have lacked a 3rd down back since Blount and Najee would fill this role really well.
There are reasons Harris is projected to be a third-round guy and that’s because his frame stops him from having explosive speed or acceleration and he can probably be caught from behind because of it.
Another flaw that Harris possesses is that NFL defenders are quicker than the college defenders he’s played against, so he’ll struggle to get the corner at the higher level and he’s not a long strider and will struggle to eat the grass up in the open field. He’ll always be a sharing back rather than a number 1 back but the Eagles aren’t looking for a number 1 guy, they have that in Sanders. His talents as a receiving back are also unknown considering he didn’t have the chance to prove it with that system he played in, but Sanders had that question mark over his head and he proved to everyone he’s a great receiving back.
Round 4 – Pick 117 – Zach Shackelford, IOL, Texas
This is another pick that some of you may be questioning, like the Harris pick, but there is reasoning behind this one. Jason Kelce may retire in the offseason, and if he doesn’t this year he will next year, so the Eagles need to plan for his replacement and I’d rather we draft this year and allow a guy to sit behind Kelce for a year then giving the starting role to a rookie after one of the best C’s in football retire and hoping he can fill that role.
The center I want as Kelce’s replacement is Zach Shackelford from Texas. Shackelford stands at 6 foot 4 and weighs in at 305 pounds. He’s a fantastic anchor center, who has great skills and great potential, someone who will benefit massively from learning off a guy like Kelce.
Like I just mentioned, his anchoring skills are brilliant and he comfortably stalls pass rushes and drives defensive lineman with good power after anchoring. His pass-rush blocking skills are built on the foundation of his great, strong base and active hands.
He has pretty decent mobility for his size and in double teams, he will dominate rushing defenders. He’s also great at reacting to extra rushers if he’s in a double team, he’ll get over and stop them from breaking the line. He gets under the pads of defensive lineman and does well to not hold defenders. He’s very dominant against linebackers, who won’t beat him with their extra speed over defensive tackles.
He does struggle to move laterally quickly and that can cost him to miss his target every so often, he also fails to finish blocks often but that is something he can fix whilst sitting behind Kelce for the year. He isn’t that overwhelming but very stable and could do with a quicker reaction step off the snap. However, I believe that these weaknesses can be fixed to a certain extent in the year he’ll spend sitting behind Kelce.
Round 4 – Jordan Hicks Comp Pick – Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech
This was a tough one to pick because there are a few linebackers around this point in the draft that I like but are more developmental pieces rather than a ready-made guy who can make a difference straight away and for that reason alone, I’ve chosen Jordyn Brooks.
Brooks is coming out of Texas Tech, standing at 6 foot 1 and weighing 245 pounds, Brooks has taken a lot of responsibility in his college career, especially in the final year with Texas Tech losing Dakota Allen. Brooks is the guy out of the linebackers that’s developed the most at this point and I feel he wouldn’t struggle or panic whilst playing at the higher level.
Brooks is a super active linebacker that the rest of the defense will feed from, he’s the kind of guy that people will see be dominant in the opening plays of the game and fire the rest of the defense up, he’s a leader. He loves to be physical, so he will fit with Ashtyn Davis, and doesn’t let that affect his patience when reading a play and seeing where the routes are taking the receivers. Once he has the route figured out, he bursts quickly and latches on to whoever the ball is going to.
As I mentioned just, he had to take a much larger role in the last year at Texas Tech with the departure of Dakota Allen and he thrived in the role. He stepped up to the task and was a huge cog in the Texas Tech defense. He’s a seriously accomplished tackler, once again, something the Eagles need and is always near the ball. He’s always full throttle, no matter what stage the game is in and he doesn’t let that ruin his game, he doesn’t get over-excited. Great in coverage and is used to all kinds of different routes and offenses due to the conference he was playing in.
The main issue he has is consistency, however, this season he proved he can step up to the plate and deliver in a big role that comes with huge pressure and expectations. Sometimes he plays the receiver too much, leaving space to sometimes run past him if he isn’t quick enough to get to the ball but other than that, he’s a solid linebacker and great value in the 4th .
Round 4 – Golden Tate Comp Pick – Tyler Clark, IDL, Georgia
I had a really hard time finding someone for this pick, mainly because I’d filled our main needs with earlier picks. In the end, I opted to find a defensive tackle that has some huge upside but still has a lot to learn whilst sitting behind Cox and Jackson.
The defensive tackle I chose was Tyler Clark from Georgia. Clark stands at 6 foot 4 and weighs 300 pounds. He’s a big, strong tackle that splits double teams and has the talent already to be a different option for the Eagles pass rush.
Clark has one of the deadliest swim moves college football has seen for some time and that can easily get him to the QB before anyone has a chance to react. When playing with the proper leverage he can bust open double teams with ease and has great upper body strength that allows him to disengage quite quickly with offensive lineman.
He has great focus on what is happening behind the offensive line and is rarely caught with his eyes elsewhere. He’s a very strong tackler when getting a hold of the ball carrier and uses his length incredibly well to keep offensive lineman away from his pads. Considering his size, his lateral movement and overall speed are quite impressive.
However, there’s a reason he’s a late 4th/5th round pick, actually, there are two major reasons why. He has an inconsistent motor and doesn’t always play with good leverage, he will shoot himself too high from his stance, leaving him to react to the offensive line rather than forcing them to his will. The other major issue is his swim move is deadly, but when it doesn’t work he has nothing else in his arsenal that will allow him to dominate his matchup. This last point can be solved and should be with him sitting behind Cox and Jackson, they can teach him other moves that can back up his scary, violent and quick swim move.
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Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports