2014 Philadelphia Eagles Post-Free Agency Rush Ideal 7-Round Mock Draft
Outside of retaining his own players and adding running back Darren Sproles via trade, Roseman has stayed largely under the radar.
The team passed on the top safeties, Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward, instead choosing to add a handful of middle-tier free agents. Safety Malcolm Jenkins received a three-year deal and projects to be a day one starter at safety, and Roseman added two special teams players. Other than Jenkins, the defense was left largely untouched, meaning Roseman has to be targeting exclusively this year's NFL draft to improve upon a defense that was a classic, bend-but-don't-break unit a year ago.
Roseman has always preached a best-player-available philosophy when it comes to the draft, although he would be wise to limit his targets this year to strictly the defensive side of the ball. It's a deep draft class, and there is a lot of talent to be found. Stacking up on defense early in the proceedings is the best bet, with Kelly looking to develop offensive players who won't need to contribute immediately.
What the Eagles do in the draft could depend on whether three-time Pro Bowl receiver DeSean Jackson is still with the team. Per Spotrac, $12.75 million of Jackson's contract is slated to count against the cap in 2014, $12 million in '15 and $10.5 million in '16.
That's a lot of money to pay any player, and it has been reported (per Les Bowen of Philly.com) that Jackson is not an idealistic fit with Kelly's locker room culture. If Jackson is traded or released, wide receiver vaults to the front of the team's needs. Even with Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper re-signed, there are no guarantees that either will be with the organization two years from now.
This mock draft is the ideal scenario for Eagles fans, but practical limits mus apply. Obviously, it would be terrific if Sammy Watkins or Khalil Mack fell to pick 22, but that won't happen.
In italics at the bottom of each slide is an alternate pick that the Eagles should consider should the slide's featured player not be available. Essentially this is a second mock draft for the franchise.
1. Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Don't expect general manager Howie Roseman to pick a safety early. It doesn't seem to be a position the Philadelphia Eagles prioritize.
Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix won't likely be around when the Eagles select at pick 22, but there's a good chance Louisville's Calvin Pryor will be available. If Pryor is still there (and the Green Bay Packers, picking at 21, need a safety), then the Eagles need to take him. That's why he goes to the Eagles in this ideal mock draft.
For now, Philadelphia has Malcolm Jenkins, whom they signed in free agency. He projects to be one of the starters, with one of the other spots going to either Nate Allen or Earl Wolff. But if the team adds Pryor, that adds a first-round talent and relegates Allen and Wolff to providing depth.
Pryor is a similar player to T.J. Ward. He's a hard-hitting safety who can play close to the line of scrimmage. Pryor is the kind of player who can set a tone for a defense, and he would make Billy Davis' unit much more formidable.
Alternate Pick: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
2. Trent Murphy, DE/OLB, Stanford
Upgrading the pass-rushing unit should be a top priority heading into the draft. The Philadelphia Eagles made no attempt to improve their linebacker corps in free agency. It's not as if the team has a poor group—it rated 20th in the league in sacks (37) a year ago, which is not a great total but not hopeless by any means, especially when you consider it was the first year of a new 3-4 defense.
What the Eagles do need is a new pass-rusher who can begin to take over for Trent Cole. Cole is entering his 10th season, and while he transitioned well to the new defense—rated by Pro Football Focus as the seventh-best 3-4 outside linebacker (subscription required)—his $11.6 million cap hit for 2015 suggests he may be entering his final year with the team.
Connor Barwin is a fine player, but he doesn’t get to the quarterback enough. Brandon Graham is entering his fifth season and still struggling to shed the "bust" label (one that is aggravated due to the team selecting him in the first round of the 2010 draft rather than All-Pro safety Earl Thomas).
It’s time the Eagles take a new pass-rusher, and not an undersized one with a high motor, a la Andy Reid draft picks Vinny Curry and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim. Stanford’s Trent Murphy would make an immediate impact in Philadelphia, not only for his talent but his toughness and physicality. He’s a 6’6”, 260-pound player who could play on the edge in either a 4-3 or a 3-4.
CBS Sports compares Murphy to Jared Allen, and that has to excite Eagles fans should Philly draft him. Murphy started his final 40 games in college, earning two All-American selections. Waiting until the second round to try to grab him may be risky, but should he slip, he’s a steal.
Alternate Pick: Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
3. Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
The Philadelphia Eagles’ cornerbacks overachieved in 2013, and it may be unrealistic to expect the same performance this coming season.
Free-agent addition Cary Williams recorded three interceptions and posted a defensive passer rating against 18 points lower than the mark he put up with the 2012 Baltimore Ravens. Bradley Fletcher committed too many penalties, but his PFF rating (subscription required) as the 44th-best cornerback out of 110 is solid enough. The standout player was second-year nickel corner Brandon Boykin, who came up with six interceptions, including picks to preserve wins in two divisional contests.
But Williams has an $8.1 million cap hit for 2015, which suggests this is his final season in Philadelphia. Fletcher is a free agent after this coming year, and Boykin will soon have to be extended long term. That means Philly could use another corner to add to the mix, even after signing Nolan Carroll, formerly of the Miami Dolphins.
Florida’s Loucheiz Purifoy dropped off after a subpar ’13 campaign, and he didn’t test well at the NFL Scouting Combine, running just a 4.61 40-yard dash while posting an anemic six bench-press reps. But Purifoy has the upside to be a talented player. Simply put, he plays bigger and better than his measurements.
He’s a confident cover corner who may be asked to play the nickel role if Boykin moves to the outside. And if Boykin is going to be a long-term corner with the Eagles—which the team has to hope is the case—he will need to eventually move outside, which opens up a spot for the nickel corner.
Purifoy has just two career collegiate interceptions, so he may be a selection based more on upside than proven success. He is a fantastic special teams player, and that may intrigue Howie Roseman enough to draft him.
Alternate Pick: Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
4. Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
If DeSean Jackson is gone, Colorado receiver Paul Richardson has a similar skill set. He likely won’t be quite the playmaker Jackson is, but then again, few people are.
Richardson is an undersized speedster who caught 83 passes for 1,343 yards and 10 touchdowns in his junior season with the Buffaloes. He missed all of 2012 with a torn ACL but bounced back last year in a big way. His downside is his smallish frame (175 pounds), but he has NFL speed and football bloodlines—his father, Paul, played wide receiver for the Eagles.
If the Eagles do draft Richardson (and keep Jackson), he will be the fourth receiver behind Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Riley Cooper. But the veteran Jackson seems to be playing year to year; Maclin is only on a one-year deal, and Cooper likely signed what effectively amounts to a two-year deal.
That means a productive Richardson could be the focal point of the Eagle offense by 2016.
Alternate Pick: DaQuan Jones, DT/DE, Penn State
5. Deandre Coleman, DT/DE, California
Deandre Coleman is a boring pick, but he’s a versatile defensive lineman who could play end or tackle in a three-man front. Currently, the Philadelphia Eagles are fielding a starting unit of Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan and Cedric Thornton, with players like Vinny Curry, Damion Square and Joe Kruger fighting for time behind the starters.
Billy Davis would appreciate a player of Coleman’s versatility. Coleman could play the 0-technique or 5-technique roles, and he could play tackle when the Eagles play a 4-3 scheme. He’s 315 pounds and offers little as a pass-rusher, but he’s talented at stopping the run.
For a fifth-round selection, Coleman would be a good addition to the defense.
Alternate Pick: Chris Watt, G, Notre Dame
7. DeDe Lattimore, ILB, South Florida
While the Philadelphia Eagles got quality play from their inside linebackers in 2013, there’s little depth behind Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans. Special teams contributor Casey Matthews has been exposed when he’s had to play on defense, and if Kendricks or Ryans got hurt, the Eagles would be in trouble.
South Florida’s DeDe Lattimore would be picked for depth. He is undersized but a good tackler, and he would hopefully have at least a year to learn the defense before he’s expected to contribute. If Lattimore could play special teams as a rookie, that would be ideal.
Alternate Pick: Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon