Eagles Mock Draft 1.0: Rebuilding the Defense

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 02 Cincinnati at Notre Dame
SOUTH BEND, IN – OCTOBER 02: Notre Dame Fighting Irish safety Kyle Hamilton (14) runs in coverage during a game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Cincinnati Bearcats on October 2, 2021, in South Bend, IN. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)

Mock drafts in November? Yes, you are seeing that right. I’m going to be bringing you weekly Eagles Mock Drafts from now until Draft day. The Eagles currently have 11 selections in the draft, and I’ll be counting the Colts pick, via the Wentz trade, as a 1st rounder as it’s looks like that’s going to be the most plausible outcome. Right, shall we get into it?

Round 1, Pick 5: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame 

The Philadelphia Eagles start this mock draft off by picking the best player in the draft this year, in my opinion anyway. Kyle Hamilton is a do-it-all safety that has completely took over college football for Notre Dame. 

Standing at 6 foot 4 and 220 pounds, Kyle Hamilton isn’t your normal sized safety. He’s as versatile as they come, playing as a single high safety, two high in split zones, down in the box, and even has snaps as a slot corner. He has impressive speed for his frame and is an extremely fluid athlete who can flip his hips with ease.

One of the best ball playing safeties I’ve seen in recent years, has an instant trigger that helps him burst to his target and contest the ball mid-air.

Hamilton is an average run defender due to his tendency to bite on play actions and screens a little too much. A lot of Hamilton’s size comes from his legs which means some transitions for him can be very inconsistent. He has great speed but his short-area burst isn’t the best for his position.  

It’s quite clear the Eagles need to almost completely rebuild their secondary. They’ve traded for a couple of young corners this season but they need instant impact and that’s exactly what Kyle Hamilton gives you.

Round 1, Pick 10: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan 

Although it’s unlikely that Aidan Hutchinson will fall to the 10th overall pick, there might be a chance someone prefers George Karlaftis over him…and the draft is always full of surprises. who knows it’s the draft!

Anyway, last year I had a draft crush on Michigan EDGE Kwity Paye but I also had one on his teammate, Aidan Hutchinson, who I honestly prefer over Kayvon Thibodeaux.  

Standing at 6 foot 5 and 270 pounds, Hutchinson is a great athlete for his size and weight, showing a great first step, overall speed, and some serious strength that allows him to completely demolish offensive linemen on a consistent basis. He has great body control for his size too and was mainly used as the anchor defensive end up until the end of the 2020 season. However, he has played in different alignments across the board like 4i, 3T, and 0T.  

Hutchinson is more of a power rusher but he isn’t limited to that, given he has great speed and a good first step off the line of scrimmage. The Michigan EDGE has one of the best motors you’ll find in college football, he never stops trying and tracks the ball well even outside of the numbers. 

One issue you have with Hutchinson is his lack of experience before this season with only 16 career starts, although he has played the entire season so far, and is playing so damn well numerous media members have been calling on him to win the Heisman trophy. He did suffer a leg fracture that ended his 2020 season three games in but he’s shown no issues with that so far this season.  

The Eagles are crying out for talent in their EDGE group given that Derek Barnett hasn’t worked out and they need a future partner for Josh Sweat.

Round 1, Pick 15: Andrew Booth Jr, CB, Clemson 

With their 3rd and final first rounder, the Eagles go 3-for-3 on defense and add, in my opinion, the best corner in this year’s draft, Andrew Booth Jr out of Clemson.

Booth Jr is an outstanding outside corner prospect who would instantly give the Eagles a proper CB2 and someone who can take over the reins of CB1 from Slay once the time comes.  

Standing 6 foot tall and 200 pounds, Booth Jr is one of the most aggressive corner talents I’ve seen in some time. He plays extremely tight coverage and it’s almost like he counts it as a loss if the opposing wide receiver gains just an inch on him, displaying another relentless motor.

Booth Jr is an explosive athlete with elite top end speed and acceleration. The Clemson prospect has outstanding ball skills and he does a great job of extending his body and attacking the ball. He’s good in zone coverage too, displaying plenty of composure and waiting for the perfect moment to strike as opposed to following his eyes.

Round 2, Pick 42: Henry To’o To’o, LB, Alabama 

With their lone 2nd round pick, the Eagles finally address the linebacker position and select Henry To’o To’o from Alabama. He is my favourite linebacker in this years’ draft. This linebacker class isn’t the best, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see no linebackers go in the 1st round, but Henry To’o To’o would add a playmaker to a position group that needs it the most.  

6 foot 2 and 228 pounds, Henry is a great leader on the field. Due to the role that was given to him during his time at Tennessee, he has an extremely high football I.Q. He triggers downfield with good speed in the run game and will consistently make contact with his target.

He’s a very athletic linebacker who can move sideline-to-sideline with ease, but sometimes can be swallowed up by blockers due to his smaller size. Henry is great at getting initial contact on his targets when tackling but he needs to really refine his technique.

Round 3, Pick 74: Daniel Faalele, RT, Minnesota  

Now, before you all get confused as to why I’m adding a right tackle to the Eagles, let me break Daniel down as a prospect and then I’ll explain how there’s method to my madness.

Daniel Faalele is a high potential right tackle prospect that caught my eye, when watching Minnesota play. He stands at 6 foot 8 and 380 pounds (remind you of anyone?) and surprisingly, he’s actually very agile and can deal with both speed and power rushers.

Faalele does very well for a man of his size at closing down gaps and switching up his assignment if the playcall says so. Very good at resetting his sets to keep his advantage over the oncoming rusher and will use his size and strength to completely swallow up rushers who try and face him head on. The Minnesota prospect has enough agility and bend within his frame to deal with more technical rushers who look to exploit him on the outside. 

Now onto why I have him going to the Eagles. There’s nothing wrong with Lane Johnson but he does have his injury issues, like 90% of the Eagles offensive lineman, so we need to be thinking about that and the future for the Eagles on the right side of their offensive line. Brandon Brooks is constantly injured and so, with Faalele being the backup to Lane, it gives the chance for the Eagles to train Jack Driscoll as a pure right guard rather than having him learn positions on the fly. 

Round 4, Pick 112: Alec Lindstrom, OC, Boston College 

It feels like Eagles fans have been preparing for the day Jason Kelce closes the curtains on his HOF career and that day is nearing. Landon Dickerson was thought to be the heir to the throne, but he’s been playing well at left guard, so it will be interesting to see if he sticks there for the rest of his career. If he does, then the Eagles need a center and that’s where Alec Lindstrom comes in. 

Alec Lindstrom has been a 3-year starter at center for Boston College and has become one of the best centers in the country during that time. Lindstrom is a very technical player with a lot of power. He does very well to absorb power and redirect it to his target, gaining the upper hand in his battles and then finishing very well.

Alec does very well to climb to the second level and retains balance when moving. He’s a very good impact blocker on screen plays thanks to his good athleticism. Lindstrom has a 6 foot 3, 298 pound frame and has experience long snapping too. He is a left handed center if that’s something you don’t like, it doesn’t really bother me. He needs to improve as a run blocker and the lack of length can lead to him exposing his pads to bigger defensive tackles.  

He may need a year but if that’s needed, Dickerson can fill in at center if Kelce decides to hang them up, if not, Lindstrom sits behind one of the best to ever do it and learns from him before taking his role.

Round 5, Pick 151: Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama 

Jobe has been a very consistent performer for Alabama and has gone unnoticed a little due to the fact he’s on an Alabama defense. He is a thin waisted corner who has long arms and plays extremely aggressive for his leaner frame.  

Jobe constantly wants to have contact with the receiver. He does a very good job at disguising his alignment and forces wideouts to open themselves up to a jam. He was mainly used as a boundary corner so he’s learned how to use the sideline as a weapon. Jose is a high-effort player who seems to be very good at recovering if he’s initially beaten at the line. He’s also an outstanding tackler who never misses and consistently wraps his target up. 

He is still technically raw though, meaning that the Eagles can put him alongside Kary Vincent Jr and Tay Gowan as high ceiling prospects who just need time to develop into possible starters. 

Round 5, pick 152: Ellis Brooks, LB, Penn State 

Ellis Brooks quickly stood out to me when I was watching Penn State tape to initially scout his linebacker teammate Brandon Smith. Brooks is a high-energy MIKE linebacker who loves to trigger downfield and disrupt the run game.

Brooks is a very good block-shedder with active hands who loves being around the football. In pass coverage, Brooks does well to flip onto routes and has, at times, shown he can drop back and cover at a distance in the middle of the field.  

Brooks is only starting his 2nd year for Penn State this year and it shows in his tape. He’s obviously a project linebacker, like Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley have been for the Eagles over the past 2 years, but he can make an instant impact on special teams and iron his issues out by sitting for a year. 

Round 5, Pick 172: Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson 

The Eagles are crying out for a big body, X-receiver and that’s exactly what Justyn Ross is. Ross stands at 6 foot 3 and 205 pounds and he plays to his size well. Ross is a true possession receiver who does very well to force open windows and give his QB a quick, open pass.  

Ross has shown flashes of brilliance through his college career when asked to play outside of his frame and make some spectacular catches by plucking the ball out of the air. His ball skills are very reliable and he does have some blocking prowess to his game.

The major issue with Ross is his injury history. Ross had surgery in 2020 on a bulging disk in his spine that caused him to miss the entire season and his 2021 season has been cut short due to needing surgery on his foot. Ross can be a very good possession receiver option for the Eagles, and he may slip into day 3 because of a misleadingly worrying injury history.

Round 6, Pick 195: Ainias Smith, RB/WR, Texas A&M 

Ainias Smith would be a really fun addition to this Eagles offense and it could push Nick Sirianni’s creative limits.

Smith is a movable chess piece that can keep the defense guessing. At 5 foot 9, 190 pounds, he plays very competitive and physical football as a runner, and will actively seek out contact in the running game despite his size and frame.  

The Texas A&M hybrid player is a very good route runner who can get separation through his acceleration. He’s a wide receiver that thrives on having the ball in his hands as quickly as possible and just racking up yards after the catch. Smith can run second level routes really well, but most of his running back carries have come from pistol or I formation.  

This Eagles offense has a lot of speed to it already so adding Ainias Smith to it will add some many fun possibilities to its scheme and play calling. I’m not comparing him to Cordalle Patterson for the Falcons, in terms of skill level, but everyone’s seen what he has done for that offense as a hybrid player and Ainias Smith could have that effect for the Eagles

Round 6, Pick 202: Reed Blankenship, S, Middle Tennessee 

Reed Blankenship is a player that came up in a lot of my draft content last year and was someone who I really wanted the Eagles to pickup, but he chose to go back to school for another year, so here I am banging the table for him again. 

Reed is a great 2-high safety and an overhang defender who offers great ability in zone coverage. He is an explosive athlete with great speed, agility, and just overall ridiculous athleticism. Blankenship has also got experience playing as a nickel defender, mainly blitzing from that position and finding a good amount of success from it.

2020 was a big comeback year for Reed after having his 2019 season cut short due to a broken leg. He proved that he could stay healthy and not let his injury affect how he plays football. Over his college career, he’s shown himself to be a really good ballhawk, logging 8 interceptions and 18 pass breakups in his first 3 years in Middle Tennessee and this season, he’s back to putting those stats up.

Reed would be a great addition to the Eagles, they need players in both the cornerback and safety position groups and Reed can have an instant impact for the team on both special teams and as a third safety option with time to grow into a possible starter. Kyle Hamilton, K’Von Wallace, and Reed Blankenship is an exciting young safety group to have going into next season. 

Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire