Philadelphia Eagles Mock Draft: 7-Round Predictions, Free Agency Edition
Well, Eagles fans, you finally got your wish. You got a legit middle linebacker to stuff the run.
Actually, DeMeco Ryans is the total package when healthy. He plays the run just as well as he plays the pass. He is a textbook tackler and a big hitter at the same time. He has great football instincts, and his intangibles are through the roof.
It's safe to say that the Eagles won't be drafting a middle linebacker in the first round.
Free agency changes the draft strategy for just about every single team. For the Eagles, they took care of a major need in the middle of their defense. They re-signed DeSean Jackson which also eliminates a need for a No. 1 receiver opposite of Jeremy Maclin.
Now, the Eagles can focus on a couple major needs: kick returner, young pass-rushers, depth on the offensive line and a red-zone target.
Philadelphia lost a fourth-round draft pick and traded down 12 spots in the third round in order to acquire Ryans. They now have nine draft picks, which is plenty for a team with just a couple needs and plenty of young talent.
1st Round: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
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Fletcher Cox is the most athletic defensive tackle and the most versatile lineman in the 2012 draft class. He lined up all over Mississippi State's line and would have a very similar role in Jim Washburn's defensive front with the Eagles.
Cox has a rare size and speed combo for a 298-pound lineman. He ran a 4.79 40 at the combine while bench pressing 225 pounds 30 times.
Cox compares favorably to Cullen Jenkins. Both players are strong but surprisingly athletic, and both players can line up inside and as defensive ends.
He is the type of player that is built perfectly for Jim Washburn's wide-nine scheme. He will have an immediate impact in the defensive line rotation. Fletcher Cox really is the no-brainer selection at pick No. 15.
2nd Round (via Arizona): Brandon Boykin, CB, Georiga
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Brandon Boykin is another perfect fit for the Philadelphia Eagles. He projects as a slot corner right away. He would play in dime packages, as Joselio Hanson is still one of the better nickel backs in the game. Next season, I could see the Eagles releasing Hanson and promoting Boykin in the No. 1 slot corner.
Most scouts saw him as a speedy but undersized corner coming out of college, but he changes everyone's perspective after his week at the Senior Bowl. He showed the ability to jaw receivers right at the line of scrimmage during practice in Mobile. He also possesses great ball skills, speed and athleticism. He has the potential to be the total package at cornerback. His only real weakness is his size, 5'10", 183.
The thing that will really get Eagles fans excited is his ability on kickoffs. Boykin had three kickoffs returned for over 100 yards during his college career. It would take the Eagles return unit an entire season to even come close to that number.
Versatility is a huge plus for any prospect. Boykin has plenty of that as a corner that can cover on the outside and in the slot while also having big-play ability as a return man. Eagles cover two needs here.
2nd Round: Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall
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I believe that both Jason Babin and Darryl Tapp will be gone by the start of the 2013 season. Babin will make over $4 million in base salary in 2013 and will be 33. Trent Cole is locked up for the long-term, while Brandon Graham and Phillip Hunt also figure to be in the defensive end rotation.
The Eagles need a another young defensive end that can help replace Babin in the 2013 season. Vinny Curry is another good fit in the wide-nine scheme.
Curry is a natural pass-rusher who posted great numbers at the combine outside of the 40 yard dash. He had the fastest three-cone drill at the combine among defensive linemen with a time of 6.90.
Curry was a team leader and a very productive player while at Marshall. He finished his career with 26.5 sacks and 48 tackles for loss. His strong work ethic and natural a knack for making plays in the backfield should fit in just fine in the wide-nine scheme.
3rd Round (via Houston): Brandon Mosley, OT, Auburn
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Brandon Mosley is a great developmental project for Howard Mudd that could pay off in a big way. Like Jason Peters, Mosley started his football career at tight end. Mosley played tight end all the way through junior college before he transferred to Auburn and was asked to make the switch to tackle.
Mosley is a very athletic big man who had one of the best combines of any offensive linemen. He is still a bit raw, but that's OK. Howard Mudd is a great teacher, and he will have a full offseason to work with Mosley. He won't be expected to start anytime soon either with both Jason Peters and Todd Herremans locking down their respective tackle spots.
His work ethic and athleticism will fit in perfectly with Mudd. He won the right tackle spot in his first year with Auburn and will look to push for a chance to start with the Eagles early in his career.
4th Round: Travis Lewis, OLB, Oklahoma
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The Eagles almost appear set at linebacker after trading for DeMeco Ryans, who will play middle linebacker with Brian Rolle and Jamar Chaney on the outside, but the Eagles will draft at least one linebacker to add some competition at either the SAM or WILL.
Travis Lewis is a very good value pick in the fourth round. He has the ability to play all three linebacker positions, but is probably best suited for the strong side, where the Eagles need to add competition for Chaney and Akeem Jordan.
Lewis was one of the best textbook tacklers while at Oklahoma. He was a four-year starter for one of the premiere programs in the nation. Led the Sooners in tackles for three consecutive seasons and finished with 431 for his career.
The Eagles need linebackers around Ryans that can both get in position to make tackles and then actually make the tackle when they get there. Chaney showed the athleticism to get in position, but missed far too many tackles last season. Casey Matthews is a solid tackler, but was forced out of position far too often. Lewis is solid in both areas and should be a strong contender at the strong side linebacker spot.
5th Round: Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa
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Marvin McNutt has hurt his draft stock because of a lack of explosion and speed, but is an ideal pick for what the Eagles need at wide receiver. Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson are the burners at wide receiver; the Eagles have plenty of speed there.
What they don't have are wideouts that can catch the ball in traffic. Slot receiver Jason Avant is the only Eagles wide receiver that actually has good hands.
Riley Cooper has disappointed in his two seasons with the Eagles. He has great size at 6'3", 220, but he doesn't use it to his advantage. The Eagles need a receiver that is more than a big body. They need a receiver that has great hands, route-running ability and knows how to use his size.
Marvin McNutt is a good target in the fifth round. He consistently got open for Iowa and caught everything thrown his way despite being the only real offensive weapon his senior year when he had 78 receptions for 1,269 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The Eagles need to add a receiver who can run crisp routes and catch the ball in traffic. McNutt is that receiver.
6th Round (via Indianapolis): Bobby Rainey, RB, Western Kentucky
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The Eagles need competition at running back behind LeSean McCoy this summer. Dion Lewis is already part of the mix, and Graig Cooper should get another shot in training camp this season. More than likely, the Eagles will look to sign a veteran running back and possibly even draft another.
I like Bobby Rainey in the sixth round. This kid is going to play with a real chip on his shoulder after being shunned by the combine. He ran for over 1,600 yards in back-to-back seasons at Western Kentucky. He also has 63 kickoff returns in his career, which is a big plus for the Eagles.
Rainey finished his college career with over 5,000 total yards from scrimmage. He ran a 4.51 40 at his pro day help elevate his draft status. He is also very agile and is a very patient runner.
The sixth round for the Eagles will be all about adding competition in training camp. Rainey will certainly do that with whoever the Eagles sign in free agency to compete for either the back-up running back spot or the third spot behind both Lewis in McCoy.
6th Round (via Denver): James Hanna, TE, Oklahoma
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James Hanna is a really interesting prospect at tight end. He is incredibly athletic, but incredibly raw. So raw in fact, he isn't projected to be taken any earlier than the sixth round despite running a 4.49 40 and jumping 36.5 inches at the combine.
Hanna will need to earn a spot on a NFL roster on special teams early while he develops more as a receiver down the road. He has great speed and size at 6'4", 252, but his route-running and blocking need a lot of work. A more patient team could turn him into something special. Maybe the Eagles are that team with Brent Celek and Clay Harbor already in place at tight end.
6th Round (New England): Christian Thompson, FS, South Carolina State
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The Eagles still need to add some depth at free safety. They're set at strong safety with Kurt Coleman and Jaiquawn Jarrett, but need a backup for Nate Allen at free safety.
Christian Thompson is a bit raw at this point in his career. He didn't face top-flight competition at South Carolina State, but is a great athlete with good size. He ran a 4.47 40 and has good size at 6'0", 210 pounds.
He covers well in man coverage and can learn to be better in zone coverage in a couple years riding the bench in the NFL. His athleticism and his big-hitting ability should allow him to make an impact on special teams right away.
The Eagles probably sign a veteran here, but Thompson should be able to beat out an aging veteran if he picks up the defense quickly.