The Eagles are in a good spot going into this year’s draft. They don’t have many picks, but they also don’t have many holes. A reminder, most mock drafts by big names are done based on what people think will happen. I don’t have access to information like that to the same extent, so this draft is done based on two things. First, what I think the Eagles might do based on their draft history and reported interest. Not as reliable as other info, but it’s the best I can do. Second, what makes sense for the Birds. I want to give the Eagles the best chance to repeat, and I keep that goal in mind when making mock drafts like this.
Round 1 (32) – DB Justin Reid, Stanford: As it stands right now, the Eagles have pretty much no safety depth. Outside of starters Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod, the Eagles depth chart at safety consists of Chris Maragos (primarily a special team’s player) and two UDFA from 2017, Randall Goforth and Tre Sullivan. Not an inspiring group for a team that just won a Super Bowl in part because of their depth. Enter Justin Reid. Reid is a versatile safety who can play pretty much all over the field, à la Malcolm Jenkins. He’s aggressive, smart, and plays fast. There really isn’t much not to like about him. With the Eagles, he’d get the opportunity to play special teams and in three safety packages, all the while learning from one of the best safeties in the game right now.
Alternate pick – RB Derrius Guice, LSU: I have Guice listed as an alternate here because I don’t think he’ll be around at 32. If he is though, he should absolutely be the pick. If you watch his 2016 tape, it’s obvious he’s really not that far off Barkley.
Round 4 (130) – RB Rashaad Penny, San Diego ST: Taking another running back from San Diego State in the fourth round will make a lot of Eagles fans nervous after the Donnel Pumphrey pick last year. But the two, despite being distantly related, are very different players. First off, Penny has ideal size at 5’11” and 220 pounds. When you watch Penny’s tape, what you see is what you get. He works hard and can make people miss, but he’s not a generational talent by any means. Penny gives the Eagles a solid player and the opportunity to continue their “running back by committee” approach while figuring out what they want to do in the future.
Alternate pick – DB Siran Neal, Jacksonville St.: I don’t love Neal as much as some other guys, but there’s versatility in his game. He’s an Eric Rowe type of player, and that’s never a bad thing. If the Eagles pass on a defensive player at 32, Neal is a smart pick here.
Round 4 (132) – DB D.J. Reed, Kansas St.: Eagles doubling down on DB’s may surprise a few people considering how many players they already have there. But there’s a good reason for it. Jim Schwartz loves being able to throw different defensive packages at teams, and in a classic nickel look, D.J. Reed could slide into the role that Patrick Robinson had last season. If Reed was a few inches taller, we might be talking about him as one of the best DB’s in the draft. He’s consistently put up high end production, is a good tackler with fluid hips, and can easily accelerate to top speed. Reed has the personality and gives the effort that Schwartz loves in DB’s, and the skills to fill a need. As a bonus, he is one of the best returners in this draft, which could get him on the field early and often.
Alternate pick – TE Durham Smythe, Notre Dame: Smythe is another TE who could fill the Brent Celek role. He won’t wow you with his catching ability, but he’s certainly a good blocker, which the Eagles need.
Round 5 (169) – OL Mason Cole, Michigan: The Eagles FO knows that depth along the offensive and defensive lines is a big key to success in the NFL, and Howie has talked about wanting to draft at least one player on each side of the line every year. However, with limited pick this year, and the additions of Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata, they might focus more on the offensive side of the ball. Mason Cole offers the versatility that the Eagles love, with experience at center and tackle. He’s started every game he’s played since his freshman year of high school, and offers good athleticism out of a solid stance. His biggest weakness as of now if his hand placement, but time to learn under Stoutland, Cole is a solid prospect with plenty of upside.
Alternate pick – EDGE Ade Aruna, Tulane: Aruna’s tape doesn’t pop, but it’s his athleticism and physical traits that stand out. With some depth already at the EDGE position, the Aruna would be a guy that the Eagles can stash and hope he develops in the type of player his traits say he can be.
Round 6 (206) – TE David Wells, San Diego ST.: After the Richard Rodgers signing, I thought the Eagles might be trying to replicate the versatile skill set that they had at TE last year. They have Ertz, who is their number one TE and one of the best in the league. Rodgers can fill the role that Burton had, a solid red zone threat with good hands and route running abilities. Wells can fill out the trio, “replacing” the role that Celek had as a primary blocker. Wells isn’t perfect, but he’s a solid run blocker with the size and form to develop into a better pass blocker. Eagles love versatility, and Wells can help them achieve that.
Alternate Pick – WR Daurice Fountain, Northern Iowa: Fountain is a one year wonder type of player, but he’s an explosive athlete with some serious speed and acceleration. More depth for the WR2 position.
Round 7 (250) – WR Jester Weah, Pittsburgh – Weah is a prospect who overs both good size and speed. Might be limited in the NFL as a guy who kills zone coverage, but he’s got good value in the 7th round because of it. It’s hard to pass up on a guy who offers Weah’s physical traits, especially in the 7th round.
Alternate Pick – S Van Smith – Smith is probably a free safety if he makes an impact in the NFL, but there are plenty of concerns with his game. Still, he’s an aggressive player who might be able to make a team on special teams, and develop into a gunner the Eagles love.