The Eagles finally have a new head coach – Welcome Nick Sirianni!
It’s a new era in Philadelphia, one that starts with getting under the salary cap somehow and continues into the draft. I spoke with SB Nation Stampede Blue’s lead editor Chris Blystone about what Sirianni brings to the Eagles:
Definitely pass protection. He and Reich and Marcus Brady held weekly protection meetings that played a big role in getting everyone on the same page. Also, the tight ends and running backs in the passing game.
He’s had 3 different quarterbacks to plan for his time as the OC in Indy, and has been a part of some pretty effective offensive attacks despite not having a ton of talent at the skill positions.
If Sirianni has a say in the draft, expect them to take tight ends and receivers who are willing blockers. They’ve fallen in love with guys like Zach Pascal for that very reason. Hard-nosed, tough, high-effort players who do all the little things.
So with those tidbits in mind, how should we expect the draft to go? Let’s take a look at a very accurate mock that will definitely come true and not change whatsoever from now until April.
1st round: Ja’Marr Chase – WR – LSU
At this point, I think it’s 50/50 that Chase is still available when the Eagles get to pick. If he is available, he’s the pick.
As you read above, Sirianni loves receivers who are willing to block. Chase seeks out defenders to lay out. As his former WR coach Mickey Joseph told me: “It doesn’t matter what the offense runs, he’ll put in the work.”
Sirianni was on the Chargers staff when Keenan Allen was drafted and he saw first hand what T.Y. Hilton meant for the Colts, he knows what a dynamic receiver means for an offense.
With Kevin Patullo and Steve Steichen also in the fold, the need for a stud WR grows even greater to help the improvement of Wentz.
This is a no brainer.
2nd round: Trey Smith – G – Tennesee
Sirianni prioritizes pass protection, as evident by the low amount of sacks the Colts offensive line gave up while he was offensive coordinator.
Rivers and Brissett were sacked a total of 21 times in 2020, Brissett and Hoyer were sacked 32 times in 2019, and Luck was sacked 18 times in 2018. A total of 71 times.
The Eagles’ quarterbacks were sacked 65 times this year alone.
Jason Kelce’s future is uncertain, Brandon Brooks will be coming off another season-ending injury, and the team needs depth.
Smith is a big boy at 6’6″ 330 lbs. That kind of size certainly limits lateral quickness but when you can bolster your offensive line with a player who allowed one sack in 664 snaps in 2020, you do it.
The Draft Network’s Joe Marino compares Smith to Larry Warford coming out of college in 2013.
3rd round: Jabril Cox – LB – LSU
I know, I know: “ANOTHER 3RD ROUND LB?”
But Jabril Cox is no Davion Taylor.
Cox has some inconsistencies in tackling (typical for Eagles players) but he has very good coverage skills. New defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon knows just how valuable linebackers are. May I remind you of Darius Leonard’s existence?
Cox’s 6’4″ frame would be a huge addition to the defense and slide right in at MIKE and allow Singleton the freedom to roam at WILL and “see ball, get ball”.
5th round: Jaret Patterson – RB – Buffalo
The Eagles currently have three running backs under contract in 2021 that played a combined 633 offensive snaps last season, and Miles Sanders accounts for 601 of them.
Jason Huntley and Elijah Holyfield remain as the holdovers as Boston Scott and Corey Clement will be free agents. The Eagles need more production and depth from the running back position.
Enter Patterson. The 5’9″ 195 lbs back may not look like much stature wise, but he showed he’s one of the best running backs in the country.
Against Kent State in November, Patterson ran for 409 yards and 8 touchdowns. He finished Buffalo’s six-game schedule with 1,072 yards on 141 carries, an astounding 7.6 yards per carry.
While Buffalo didn’t use him much in the passing game, he could be a weapon in that aspect as well.
If the Eagles move on from Scott, Patterson would fill his role nicely.
5th round (from Dallas): Ambry Thomas – CB – Michigan
The Eagles have huge cornerback needs, which may make you question why I haven’t targeted one yet.
New defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon seems to be the magician behind Xavier Rhodes’ play, which makes it likely Rhodes follows him to Philadelphia. (WiTh WhAt MoNeY).
With that assumption, and a healthy Avonte Maddox going back to the slot where he belongs, I don’t see the major need at the position. The team will still have Craig James to develop as well.
Ambry Thomas isn’t the biggest corner out there (6’0 185 lbs) but he is fast. Projected to run in the high 4.3s at whatever workout he does, Thomas showed in 2019 that he can keep up with fast receivers.
I mention 2019 because he opted out of the 2020 season to focus on the draft. He does get a little handsy, but that’s coachable. A year away from football may make teams weary on him, but the Eagles could find a steal in Thomas this late in the draft.
6th round: Divine Deablo – S/LB – Virginia Tech
The Eagles need safety depth. K’Von Wallace projects as the number one safety as McLeod rehabs his torn ACL. With Will Parks gone, that leaves Marcus Epps, Grayland Arnold, and Blake Countess as the only safeties on the roster. While Arnold shows a lot of promise, Epps has shown more value on special teams, and you can’t count on Countess…. sorry.
Deablo has been one of the more overlooked safeties of this class. He became Virginia Tech’s first-ever safety to be named to the All-ACC team after posting 55 tackles, four pass deflections, and four interceptions in nine games.
However, there are questions if he will stay at safety. Teams could look at him as a hybrid safety/linebacker and use him more towards the line of scrimmage. His ability in coverage could bode well for him on tight ends.
6th round comp pick: Malik Herring – EDGE – Georgia
Herring ends his Georgia career with PFF grades of 89.9 overall, 87.2 against the run, and 84.0 against the pass. He had 77 total pressures on 639 pass-rush snaps and one missed tackle defending the run.
The knock on Herring is his size. At 6’3″ 280 lbs, he has a similar build to Myles Garrett’s 6’4″ 272 lbs, but he got bullied a lot by bigger offensive linemen and couldn’t maneuver through double teams.
He’s knocked also for being solely meant for a 4-3 defense, but that’s what the Eagles run so…
Let Tracy Rocker, new Eagles DL coach, get a project like Herring on his hands. It’ll work out.
7th round: Anthony Hines III – LB – Texas A&M
Hines did not play in 2020. After opting out in September due to COVID concerns (he lost someone close to him to the disease), he decided to forgo his final two years of eligibility and declare for the draft.
He used his time off to do some community work.
In his final season at Texas A&M, he had 73 tackles, 10.5 for loss. He missed all but two games in 2018 with an ACL tear. Because of the concerns, he is largely viewed as a 7th round/UDFA projection.
New passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo and wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead were a part of the A&M coaching staff during Hines’ freshman year. The Eagles could take a gamble and see if they can find some of that 2018 success in Hines.
7th round comp pick: Quintin Morris – TE – Bowling Green
It’s quite possible the Eagles are without Zach Ertz in 2021, leaving Dallas Goedert, Jason Croom, and Caleb Wilson as the only other tight ends on the roster.
Morris is a very intriguing prospect at the position. A former wide receiver, Morris’ 6’4″ 250 lb frame can provide match up nightmares for smaller slot DBs. While 2020 was a dud year (five games for the team, 20 rec, 248 yards), he led the team in 2019 with 55 rec, 649 yards, and four touchdowns.
He’ll need a lot of work as a blocker, although he projects more of a “F” tight end (for you Pitts lovers) than tradition in line tight end, but he shows the willingness to learn and improve in that area.
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire