Mock Draft Roundup: Eagles’ Options At No. 13
With mock draft season heating up, we decided to take a look at what the “draft experts” are saying about who the Eagles will select, and who else will be available at the No. 13 slot.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper ($) has the Eagles taking Ole Miss defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, with Michigan State offensive tackle Jack Conklin at No. 14 and Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch at No. 15. Kiper also projects Houston to take North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz at No. 22.
Whether Nkemdiche is a great fit in Philly depends a little bit on what kind of system the new coaching staff will want to run, but with Cedric Thornton an unrestricted free agent, they’d be wise to add another talented piece to the D-line puzzle to take some pressure off Fletcher Cox, who has turned into an absolute star. Nkemdiche has that potential — he’s a top-5 talent, really — but will need to maintain his focus off the field.
Rob Rang of CBS Sports has the Eagles taking Alabama defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, with Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook gone at No. 15. He also anticipates the Jets taking Lynch at No. 20, and the Texans picking Wentz.
New Eagles head coach Doug Pederson saw first-hand with Dontari Poe in Kansas City what a dominant nose guard can do for a defense. Plugging in the blue-collar, run-stuffing Robinson into the middle of the Eagles’ defensive line could be exactly the kind of investment along the line of scrimmage this club needs.
Dana Brugler of CBS Sports also has the Eagles taking an Alabama defensive lineman in defensive end Jonathan Allen. He has Wentz picked at No. 15, Ohio State offensive tackle Taylor Decker chosen at No. 16, and Cook going to Houston.
Whoever is hired as head coach in Philadelphia, the pass rush on defense will need addressed. Allen developed into a terror for opposing offenses this season and has the scheme versatility to play in even and odd fronts.
Eric Galko of the Sporting News has the Eagles taking Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander, with California quarterback Jared Goff going at No. 15, Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley gone at No. 16, and Cook picked at No. 22.
Alexander has nickel corner experience that should give him an instant impact in Philadelphia. But more importantly, his hip fluidity and anticipation of catch timing gives him the leg up on Hargreaves in terms of long-term development and upside. Still a bit raw, Alexander could be the face of the Eagles secondary rebuild.
The Washington Post’s John Harris also has the Eagles taking Robinson, with Conklin going at No. 18 and Cook going at No. 22.
Draft needs: DE, QB if they drop Sam Bradford, CB, ILB
With uncertainty at the top spot on the coaching staff, there’s no telling whether the Eagles will want to keep Bradford going forward. Either way, the defense, minus Fletcher Cox was a sieve throughout the season and there’s a massive answer in Tuscaloosa.
USA Today’s Jon Ledyard has the Eagles picking Decker, while Wentz goes at No. 15 and Cook goes at No. 22.
It is anyone’s guess what the Eagles next move will be after hiring their next head coach, but the roster is in good shape from a talent perspective. Needs exist at offensive guard and quarterback if Sam Bradford departs as a free agent, but Decker could be the eventual replacement to Jason Peters, who turns 34 this month. The massive 6’8 tackle has the length and physicality to develop into an eventual starter on the left side.
Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke also thinks the Eagles will take Decker, while he has Lynch picked at No. 15 and Conklin at No. 18.
The race to be the third tackle off the board could come down to Decker and fellow Big Ten standout Jack Conklin, who appears just a few lines later here. Decker needs a big Senior Bowl week, but if he gets it his athleticism helps set him apart. He could be a long-time NFL left tackle, and the Eagles need to start planning for life after Jason Peters.
NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah both have the Birds picking offensive linemen, with Brooks anticipating Conklin and Jeremiah choosing Stanley. Both have quarterbacks going just two picks later, with Brooks picking Wentz and Jeremiah predicting Lynch.
Brooks: The Eagles have neglected the offensive line at the top of the draft for years, but Jason Peters’ age and recent injuries could prompt the team to look for a successor on the edge.
Jeremiah: Stanley isn’t flashy, but he’s a very reliable pass protector.