Eagles Draft Nuggets From Mike Mayock

With the Combine kicking off later this week, Mike Mayock of NFL Network released his list of the top-five prospects at each position.

He also joined Rich Eisen for a podcast and revealed several draft nuggets that will be of interest to this audience.

“I think we’ve got more depth for the first three rounds than maybe any time you and I have done this draft,” Mayock said. “But I’m not seeing the difference-makers at the top end.

“I’m not seeing the explosive difference-makers at the top end of this draft. And I’m not sure that the fifth pick is that much better than the 20th pick or the 30th pick.”

On the surface, that sounds like bad news for the Eagles, who hold the fourth overall pick. Then again, if you want to take the glass-half-full approach, the Birds have three selections in the first 67, so they could potentially capitalize on that depth.

Mayock’s defensive end and outside linebacker rankings are of particular interest. He said he doesn’t believe LSU’s Barkevious Mingo (OLB) or Florida State’s Bjoern Werner (DE) are top-five picks. But Mayock’s top OLB prospect is Oregon’s Dion Jordan.

“I think he can grow into a monster at defensive end or outside linebacker,” Mayock said.

Chip Kelly and defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro know Jordan well, having coached him with the Ducks. We’ll be writing a lot more about Jordan, but with the Eagles likely looking for versatile edge rushers in the coming months, the 6-7, 241-pounder is definitely someone to keep an eye on.

Mayock also likes the upside of BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. Ansah had a great Senior Bowl in Mobile.

“This is a kid that people are comparing to Jason Pierre-Paul from a talent perspective,” Mayock said. “He’s much more raw than Pierre-Paul was when he came out.”

A lot of mocks have the Eagles going with Utah’s Star Lotulelei. But Mayock’s got Lotulelei as his No. 2 defensive tackle behind Florida’s Sharrif Floyd, a Philadelphia native. He said he’s got six or seven first-round grades on defensive tackles, one of the draft’s deepest positions.

Other projections have the Eagles going with Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner.

“I think the Combine is going to be critical for the corner class this year because all I hear from the NFL guys right now is ‘What’s the long speed of these guys?’” Mayock said. “So I really like the corner class. It’s two to three rounds deep this year, but I have some significant questions about what the speed is.”

Mayock said he believes Milliner is a top-10 pick.

And finally, the quarterback class.

“I don’t know who the best quarterback is yet, and I don’t know if there is a first-round quarterback,” Mayock said.

“This is going to be by far the most confusing quarterback draft we’ve had in years.”

Asked about the Chiefs potentially taking West Virginia’s Geno Smith first overall, he said, “I have a hard time buying into that. I couldn’t even pound the table today for a first-round quarterback, let alone a first-pick quarterback.

“I watched a bunch of Geno Smith. He can make every throw, he’s athletic, the ball jumps out of his hand. But there are a lot of things that make me nervous about him. He misses people by wide margins for no reason. I see a little bit of hesitancy with the blitz. When that first read is not there, it’s not as pretty on the second or third read. His eyes come down, he makes mistakes.”

Mayock’s not thrilled with what he’s seen out of USC’s Matt Barkley either.

“I watched a lot of his tape a year ago, and the two things I knew were he didn’t take sacks and he didn’t throw interceptions,” he said. “This year, the tape is different. He can make every throw. He’s got a good, but not a great arm. He’s smart, but he makes a bunch of bad decisions and bad throws, which is what I thought this kid wouldn’t do.”

The process continues on Thursday when the Combine kicks off in Indianapolis. Birds 24/7 will be on site and have it covered.

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  • nicksaenz1

    As long as need is addressed (DB, D-line, O-line), it would hard to go wrong w/ our first pick.

    • NCellini17

      *As long as we don’t force a need, it would be hard to go wrong with our first round pick

      • southy

        We need a NT for the 3-4, CB, S, OL… sitting there at 4 there are going to be playmakers in almost every position. I’d find it silly for us not to consider need in that spot, with the exception of reaching for a QB a la Jets drafting Mark Sanchez.

        • JofreyRice

          I think for all the lip service that’s paid to “best player available” most teams select for need first, unless there’s an unquestioned BPA just sitting there. If you have Player A a little ahead of Player B, but you need to fill the position that Player B plays, I think 8/10 times teams take Player B.

          IIRC, A lot of analysts loved the Jets trading for Sanchez. They gave up very little–basically swapping first rounders and giving up a second and a few fringe starters, for a guy that was supposed to be “very polished”, and coming out of a highly regarded school in a tough conference. Mike Tannebaum “Got his Man”–where have we heard that before?

          • southy

            Well, I’m certainly not the only one that thought it was a big reach. The fact that they didn’t give up too much in the trade is good for them but doesn’t have much bearing on whether they got the BPA at that spot.

            In any case – on the other hand – the Eagles were certainly thinking BPA when they took Curry. Then the kid didn’t dress for most of the year, not because he was a bust, but because we had guys in front of him. Maybe he’ll start to kick ass in the new 3-4 but we’re still sitting there looking at Cole and Graham probably starting on the outside for 2013.

          • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

            There’s nobody on the Eagles taking anything from Graham, that’ end position is pretty much etched in stone. The Eagles if they’re converting to a 3-4 has to obtain a nasty, menacing nose tackle who commands double teams on every snap. Which would force teams to play Fletcher Cox one on one. In two years, I envision Fletcher Cox being unblockable. Graham will be switched to and rush from the position of OLB, Cole/Curry should bring heat from the right DE Position.

        • NCellini17

          We NEED the best player we can find. It’s going to take time to rebuild this team so take the best players.

  • jon h

    We picked a QB last year, just renegotiated Vick and signed Dixon to a two year deal – better not take one in the first round – there are other positions we need to address (like CB)

    • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

      If the Eagles don’t take Luke Joeckel or, Eric Fisher, or Lane Johnson with one of the first 67 picks this will be a wasted draft. There’s a question about the level of competition Fisher faced, which is legitimate. Joeckel and Johnson come from talented conferences with stellar competition.

    • http://twitter.com/PhiIs_Goodman Phils Goodman

      It’s still possible to trade a QB and then draft a QB if they think he fits better.

  • Brent E. Sulecki

    Trade Down in teens for OLB Jordan and extra picks

    • Bob Brewer

      Problem is someone has to be willing to trade up. I’m hoping that Milliner performs really well at the combine enticing a team to trade up. I do think there is a little separation between Milliner and the other DBs.

    • JofreyRice

      I’m starting to really like the idea of Dion Jordan. Guy is a freak athlete–came to Oregon as a TE. They had him covering slot receivers for a portion of the time, so it’s not like he got to just pin his ears back and go after the QB, but he still put up 5 sacks and a bunch of TFLs.

      If they could drop and get Jordan, or Vaccaro, I’d be happy.

    • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

      Trading down is how the Eagles roster got full of mediocre players.

    • Jacob Kravitz

      Love this idea. Jordan is a good answer for the TE trend in the NFL and has unique star potential. Trade back to 9 or 10 and add a 3rd rounder

  • Jeff Williams

    I’m hoping for Milliner he has the size and the speed to deal with these receivers plus he’s willing to tackle

    • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

      There’s a question mark about his Speed.

  • http://twitter.com/ScottJ610 Scott J

    Why is it we never get a great draft class when we pick high? When the Flyers had the 2nd pick in 2007, the draft class sucked, and now this draft has lousy QB’s.

    • JofreyRice

      I don’t follow basketball, but wasn’t the draft class weak the year the 76ers got Evan Turner?

      • Michael L

        yep. happened with the flyers in 07, sixers with turner and now with the eagles…

  • JofreyRice

    One thing to think about re: drafting Defense. They have to be really well conditioned athletes, because they are going to be on the field a lot. Kelly’s not going to have the luxury of a large pool of players like at Oregon–53 with only half of that for the D. Kelly’s offense, when successful, is going to do their work quickly, putting the D back on the field.

    Can Star Lotulelei give you full effort if he’s on the field for 60% of the game? Hard to get humans that big to do that, and the big knock on Star is the motor. Maybe if they are going to go after a NT, they go for a quick penetrator type, like Sheldon Richardson from Missouri, or Philly’s Shariff Floyd. Richardson, in particular is a really different type of DT–you don’t use the term “sideline-to-sideline” too often for that position, but the guy was all over the field for Mizzou.

    Going after a penetrator type would probably make sense from the perspective that if Kelly can score points the way he wants to, stopping the run will be less an issue, and you can trade some passrush ability for anchor against the run. We’ll see.

    • CJ

      That mindset to defense only works if your offense scores first, second, and doesn’t stop there. Opposition will run the ball to kill the clock and keep the ball away from a high scoring offense. In turn, if that team’s defense is built on the assumption that offense has to throw the ball, you’re screwed, because they’ll have success running the ball, taking more time off the clock and still scoring points. The Eagles have had this type of mindset under Reid before. Don’t make the same mistakes with a different head coach. Stopping the run (and running the ball) still matters in today’s NFL.

      • JofreyRice

        I hear you. Kelly’s offense may be based on the run, and may have 3 different speeds, but his teams rarely held the ball for more than half the game at Oregon, in terms of T.O.P. They knew that when they hired him, so if that mistake is going to be repeated, the check’s in the mail. Whether they go down the field at full speed, or go three and out at normal speed, I think it’s going to lead to the defense being on the field for long stretches, so conditioning is going to be key.

        The success of the team is going to depend on the O. If they can’t score points, you’re right, teams will run it down their throats, shorten the game, and frustrate the shit out of us.

        • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

          However, Oregon offense forced in almost 80 plays a game in that time. Running 80 plays limits scoring opportunities for your opponent. Kelly’s laid it out that his offense has 4 basic plays. Dive, Slant, Sweep and Screen. Nothing out of the ordinary from any other option team.

          • JofreyRice

            I’m not quite sure how the number of plays they run on offense changes the dynamic of the defense being on the field for a lot longer, unless the offense is holding the ball for a longer period of time. The fact is, Kelly’s defenses were on the field considerably more than his offenses–regardless of play count–precisely because he goes high-speed so often. That’s the one element that we know for sure he’s keeping.

            Both Casey Matthews and Dion Jordan have talked about the crazy conditioning you need to play in that defense. They do say that practicing against the offense helps, but you need the athletes to keep up. The point stands, do you spend a #4 pick on a 330+ pound guy to anchor the nose, or go for a better conditioned athlete that might be a little lighter? Star would have to have the freakish conditioning of Vince Wilfork to hold up–a pretty tall order.

          • CJ

            the interior of the D line needs size and talent, period. the more the better. , because then you can rotate and give guys adequate rest. girth at DT/NT inherently frees up the edges to get to the QB and slows down the runs up the gut, which is a huge weakness. if this team goes to a 3-4 and doesn’t address NT in the first two rounds in a draft with 4-5 good ones, they’re crazy.

          • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

            There is no effective 3-4 without the menacing Tackle in the middle. The Eagles linebackers over the years have been laughable basically because there was no Defensive Tackle playing in front of them that commanded the attention of the Guards and Center.

            There’s a soft spot in my heart for Patterson and what he’s over come, but he wasn’t doing the job that needed to be done.

  • barry_nic

    If we go to the 3/4 we’ll have to get nose tackles, and our O-line and DBs could use a ton of help too. I’m interested in how we pick in the draft, do we pick 4th, then parlay the 35th into another first rounder? Does Peters come back healthy? The problem is when you pick 4th, you have a bunch of areas to fix, not just one. If Peters is healthy, and our fireman can be turned into a conventional lineman instead of a “Mudd-man”, Maybe we can look at defense. It’s a crazy year guys, I’m hoping the F/O is up to it.

    • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

      Kelly’s Offense relies on the battle up front in the trenches being convincingly dominated. That requires Line help on both sides of the ball. Tackle on Offense, and Nose Tackle on Defense. We should have position at 4 and 35 to address these issues while at the same time choosing difference makers. Joeckel, Fisher or Johnson on Offense, and either Sharrif Floyd or Jonathan Jenkins at Nose Tackle both out of the SEC, where there’s good to the best competition week in and week out.

  • PaoliBulldog

    I’m not enthusiastic about Milliner at #4. The Eagles need beef up front on both sides of the ball. Unless Milliner projects as a shutdown, Revis-quality CB, which doesn’t seem to be the case, he’s too risky at that pick.