Eagles 2023 Mock Draft: Surprise Trades Bolster Pass Rush

Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter watches as players warm up on the field before the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Thursday, March 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

The NFL mock drafts for 2023 are coming in hot, faster and more furious than a Vin Diesel movie reboot. Excitement is riding high after the NFL Scouting Combine wrapped up in Indianapolis on March 6. The Philadelphia Eagles met with a slew of prospects down there, including a potential backup quarterback for Jalen Hurts.

It’ll be interesting to see how Howie Roseman handles what looks to be the most important draft in recent memory. The Eagles have 19 unrestricted free agents — no, they won’t lose all of them but they stand to lose quite a few – and adding plug-and-play starters, especially on the defensive side, should be a priority. They own six total picks to use on future talent.

“We’re going to prioritize the things that are important to us, that we build our team on,” Roseman told reporters on February 28. “We’re going to make sure those areas are strong. Are we going to get all the free agents back? We’re just not.

“We’re not capable of getting all those guys back, but we also understand we’re in a good situation in terms of picks that we have going forward. We have a lot of guys under contract, not only for this year, but going forward. We’re not going to make excuses for the position we’re in.”

Eagles Mock Draft 1.0: Loading Up in the Defensive Trenches

Chris Infante has been hard at work sketching out a rough plan for Howie Roseman to follow. His first crack at a mock draft covered a lot of ground, delivering a young stud cornerback (Devon Witherspoon) and developmental quarterback (Dorian Thompson-Robinson) to the Eagles. It provided a great blueprint.

Now, in my feeble attempt at a mock draft, let’s shake things up a bit. Roseman has been known to fly by the seat of his pants and exhaust all resources to close a blockbuster deal (see: A.J. Brown). This is how I see a sometimes wild and unpredictable general manager playing it on April 27-April 30:

Round 1, Pick 13: Jalen Carter (DT-Georgia) *TRADE ALERT

Analysis: The Eagles need to upgrade the cornerback position, especially if they lose James Bradberry in free agency which seems like a given at this point. Three top-tier players should be on the board at this spot, but they haven’t selected a corner in the first round since Lito Sheppard in 2012. The trend continues in 2023 as the team makes a trade with the New York Jets to get down to No. 13 where Jalen Carter’s free fall finally ends.

Big risk? Sure. Big reward, yes. Carter has promised he’ll be “fully exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing.” Philly steals the best overall player in the draft, plus grabs the 74th overall pick in the process.

Round 1, Pick 30: Calijah Kancey (DT-Pittsburgh)

Analysis: Kancey absolutely crushed the NFL Combine: he ran the 40 in 4.67 seconds, the fastest time for a defensive tackle since Aaron Donald in 2003. Those two have nearly identical measurables and similar athleticism. More importantly, the 6-foot-1, 281-pounder is a tweener who can start at edge rusher or move inside. He’s a certified weapon, able to move all over the formation. Or, to quote ESPN draft guru Todd McShay, he’s a “disruptive player with explosive traits.” He had 14.5 sacks over the past two seasons.

Round 2, Pick No. 56: Cam Smith (CB-South Carolina) *TRADE ALERT

Analysis: Roseman waits and gets his new starting corner in Round 2. The 6-foot, 188-pounder would normally be a first-round selection but a wealth of talent at the position has him available later than he should be.

The Eagles package their additional third-rounder from the Jets (No. 74) and their own pick at No. 62 to Doug Pederson’s Jacksonville Jaguars to move up six spots. In doing so, Philly nabs a player who recorded 6 interceptions and 23 pass breakups in four collegiate seasons. He can play on the outside or in the slot.

Round 3, Pick No. 94: Roschon Johnson (RB-Texas)

Analysis: Bijan Robinson is the consensus best running back in the Class of 2023. And, if Roseman really wanted the explosive rusher, then he could use the No. 10 overall pick on him. However, history suggests the better course of action would be to find the diamond in the rough. Enter Robinson’s backup at Texas.

Johnson held a formal interview with the Eagles in Indianapolis (via Sports Illustrated), and that’s his preferred destination. When asked where he hoped to land, Johnson said: “Definitely Philly.” He ran the 40 in 4.58 seconds at the NFL Combine —maybe that time is a little sluggish — but he looked like a high-impact player in every other area. Johnson gets a shot at replacing Miles Sanders in the backfield.

Round 5: Pick 159: Dorian Thompson-Robinson (QB-UCLA) *TRADE ALERT

Analysis: The Eagles are in dire need of a dual-threat quarterback to back up Jalen Hurts. They want DTR but his stock appears to be on the rise after an impressive showing at the NFL Combine where he flashed an incredible speed burst (1.51 seconds 10-yard splits) and insane leaping ability (32.5-inch vertical leap). He’s the total package and the perfect athlete to run Nick Sirianni’s system.

Problem is, he won’t be on the board in Round 7. Roseman mortgages the future ever so slightly to move up and get him in Round 5. He sends one of his seventh-rounders, plus Quez Watkins to the Chicago Bears.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MARCH 03: UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson answers questions from the media during the NFL Scouting Combine on March 3, 2023, at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)

Round 7: Pick 250: Quinton Barrow (OT-Grand Valley State)

Analysis: Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland has proven time and time again that he can draw talent out of anything if the mind is willing, and the body is able. Barrow certainly has the physical traits: 6-foot-2, 322 pounds with 34 1/4-inch arms, and good speed for his size. He already proved he could play with the big boys after a strong showing at the East-West Shrine Bowl. Maybe he develops into Lane Johnson’s successor at right tackle.