Philadelphia Eagles: Post Free Agency Complete Seven-Round Mock Draft
Chip Kelly’s team needs a quarterback to succeed, and 33-year-old Michael Vick isn’t the answer. It’s equally doubtful that Nick Foles or former Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon is the long-term solution. Then again, Kelly could afford to upgrade the offensive line. The defense will need playmakers to fit in a 3-4, and the secondary needs a handful of players.
Trading down may be the smartest way for Kelly to approach the draft. The talent isn’t overwhelming at the top of the draft. Conceivably, the 15th pick could net a player equal or close in value to the fourth overall pick.
Regardless of what Kelly says, his first draft will be important. It’s no easy task to turn around a 4-12 team. Kelly has his work cut out for him, and drafting well is a must.
First Round: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
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There are a handful of ways the Philadelphia Eagles could approach their first-round draft pick. I almost went with West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith because I think it will be difficult for Chip Kelly to refuse such a playmaking young signal-caller.
But I think Kelly will opt for a quarterback with a similar skill set in the later rounds. Luke Joeckel will very likely be gone by pick four. Eric Fisher or Chance Warmack would each make an intriguing option (and if I could have my pick, I’ll go Warmack all day).
But the defense needs a bigger upgrade. On the defensive side of the football, the main options are Dion Jordan and Dee Milliner, with Jordan getting the slight edge.
Jordan’s amazing versatility is what will attract Kelly. Kelly loves players that can line up anywhere, as evidenced by his signing of fullback/tight end James Casey. Jordan played defensive end, outside linebacker and defensive tackle at the University of Oregon, where he happened to play under Kelly. Jordan is so athletic that he even began his collegiate career as a tight end.
He registered just five sacks last year, although that’s not indicative of his true skills. Jordan added 44 tackles (10.5 for a loss) and even lined up in coverage against slot receivers. Even the Eagles’ recent signing of Connor Barwin shouldn’t close the door on Jordan.
Kelly will likely play Brandon Graham and Barwin as 3-4 outside linebackers in his defense. It would fit well if Trent Cole can bulk up and play 3-4 end. But regardless, Kelly will find snaps for Jordan.
Second Round: E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State
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Do I want E.J. Manuel? I don’t know. Do I think it will happen? Very likely.
Michael Vick is expected to start next season, and Dennis Dixon is the odds-on favorite to be the top backup. G.J. Kinne is a very long shot and will likely be placed on the practice squad. It doesn’t seem as if there’s room for Nick Foles. A team like the Buffalo Bills or Arizona Cardinals could trade for a young QB like Foles.
Manuel is physically gifted at 6’5”, 248 pounds. He threw for 23 touchdowns to 10 interceptions last year, completing 68 percent of his passes. He also added four touchdowns on the ground. And Manuel himself even said he wants to play for the Eagles next year.
Manuel would probably see significant action as a rookie, considering Vick hasn’t proven he can stay healthy. His development will hinge greatly on Kelly’s ability to work him into the offense. Manuel will benefit greatly from DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy.
Third Round: William Gholston, DE, Michigan State
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I would have mocked a nose tackle to the Philadelphia Eagles, but that’s doubtful now that Isaac Sopoaga has signed. Sopoaga is in no way the long-term solution, but he’s good enough to play for a couple of seasons.
Fletcher Cox projects to be a 3-4 end, now that Philly has released Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson. And William Gholston would be the end opposite Cox.
Gholston, who does happen to be the cousin of former bust Vernon Gholston, wouldn’t start right away. He would work his way into the rotation though. Gholston is a bit undersized at 281 pounds, although he is 6’6”.
Gholston had a down year at Michigan State in 2012, and he’s a much better run stuffer than pass-rusher. That’s fine because Trent Cole, Brandon Graham and Dion Jordan should be able to pressure the opposing quarterbacks.
Fourth Round: Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU
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The Philadelphia Eagles can’t possibly pass on Tyrann Mathieu if he’s still available at the 100th overall pick. Matthieu’s off-the-field issues have been well-documented, and they could continue into the NFL. If that happens, the Eagles are out of luck with their pick.
And if Mathieu can play, he’s a steal. Mathieu was one of the best defensive players in football in 2011. He’s undersized but then again, small corners like Antoine Winfield (5’9”) have still had success at the top level.
Mathieu intercepted two passes, forced six fumbles and recorded 1.5 sacks in ’11, lining up as a corner and safety. He also showed some skill as a punt returner, taking back two kicks for touchdowns.
Cornerback is also a huge position of need for Philadelphia. Bradley Fletcher was an underrated acquisition who will start. Other than that, it’s anyone’s job to win.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha won't return. Brandon Boykin is probably best suited as a slot corner, and Curtis Marsh is no guarantee to even make next year’s roster.
Fifth Round: Cooper Taylor, S, Richmond
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Cooper Taylor’s size (6’5”, 235 pounds) is eye-popping for a safety. It makes him big enough that one has to wonder about a potential switch to linebacker.
Taylor put up some solid numbers in 2012, registering 77 tackles, five tackles for a loss, nine passes defensed, three forced fumbles and four interceptions. He’s not going to start for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013, but he does provide some depth.
The Eagles can’t possibly bring back Kurt Coleman, and Colt Anderson is best suited as strictly a special teams player.
Seventh Round: James Ferentz, C, Iowa
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What James Ferentz would offer the Philadelphia Eagles is depth at the center position. Jason Kelce should be able to make a full recovery for the 2013 campaign.
After Kelce though, the depth is very thin. Dallas Reynolds was exposed all season when forced to play last year. He may not make the 53-man roster. Ferentz is the son of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, which means football is in his blood.
Seventh Round: Brad Wing, P, LSU
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A punter isn’t an intriguing selection but the Philadelphia Eagles need one. Mat McBriar is merely a stopgap. Brad Wing was a First-Team All-American selection in 2011, averaging 44.1 yards per punt. Twenty-three were downed inside the 20-yard line.
Ideally, the Eagles won’t have to use Wing once. But he’s a promising punter on a team that could use an upgrade at that position.
Seventh Round: Christian Robinson, ILB, Georgia
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Christian Robinson isn’t anything more than a hopeful backup or special teams player. Robinson is just 6’2”, 235 pounds, which makes him undersized at the NFL level.
At the very best, Robinson would see time as a backup behind DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks in the Philadelphia Eagles’ new 3-4 defense.