Eagles seven-round mock draft: A strong foundation for the Jalen Hurts era

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 24 Camping World Kickoff – Florida v Miami
ORLANDO, FL – AUGUST 24: Florida tight end Kyle Pitts (84) during the first half of the Camping World Kickoff between the Florida Gators and the Miami Hurricanes on August 24, 2019, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL. (Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire)

Round 5, pick 140: C Drake Jackson, Kentucky

Hoping Jackson slides to the fifth is a stretch, but hey, it’s possible. The Eagles are running out of time to find the heir to Jason Kelce’s throne and while Jackson is nowhere near the freak athlete Kelce is, few centers ever will be.

However, Jackson was a four-year starter in the SEC and is every bit as tough as that sounds. The guy played through a separated shoulder at the Senior Bowl!

while he may lack the size at 6’2, 290 lbs, he’s a solid pass protector who uses his hands well and maintains a low center of gravity when dealing with bigger bodies. Jackson invites defenders to put their hands on first, creating leverage, and uses some impressive footwork to compensate for the power loss.

While his ability to get to the second-level and shed those nose tackles is valid, Benny Snell Jr. had back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns behind him, which is definitely worth noting. However, in short-yardage situations, he does lack the power to really push the pile and this is a concern.

According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed just one sack in three years. Not bad. Not bad at all.

With Jeff Stoutland in town, taking a punt on a player who already has strong fundamentals after seeing the incredible rise of Jordan Mailata could be all that’s needed to find Kelce’s replacement.

6th round, pick 165: WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Iowa

We had to bring in a receiver eventually and Smith-Marsette could well be this years’ late-round sleeper at wideout. So, the Eagles missed out on DeVonta Smith. Oh no. But what about a similarly sized 6’1, 179 lbs wideout built like Smith, who can wreak havoc in the open field?

Smith-Marsette can be used all across the formation on screens, pitches, and as a vertical receiver due to his game-breaking speed. ‘ISM’ was also used on kick-returns, where he scored a pair of touchdowns in 2019.

The zippy wideout is a menace when he gets going and has some swagger to his release, showcasing a filthy stutter step, stunning hip control, and could be the perfect gadget player to fit snugly into a new-look Eagles offense.

In 2020, he caught 25 passes for 345 yards and 4 touchdowns in 7 games in Iowa’s run-first offense. His season ended in injury which didn’t help his stock, but an impressive 2019 where he tallied 722 receiving yards should be used as a reminder of how fun he can be.

7th round, pick 198: QB Zac Thomas, Appalachian State

Drafting a QB this late means that Jalen Hurts does not have to deal with the same level of chaos that Carson Wentz did last year.

Completing a career-high 63.9% of his throws in 2020 for 2,189 yards, 20 TD and 11 INT, it’s clear there’s work to be done as a passer. His touch on the deep ball is sporadic and he has a habit of forcing tight-window throws that are all too easy for a bursting DB to pick off. Conversely, in a run-heavy offense, one has to wonder if there is a high ceiling yet to be tapped into.

He’s a smaller QB at 6’0, 200 lbs which will work against him, as will his poor decision-making in a pinch and lack of velocity when making tough throws.

However, he helped Appalachian State win four Sun Belt titles and five bowl games. I hate the ‘he’s a winner’ argument, but when drafting a QB this late, knowing he won’t be intimidated by the moment is a huge bonus.

Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire