General manager Howie Roseman and vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas truly did an amazing job creating a roster that could win and withstand all of those injuries. At the start of free agency, the Philadelphia Eagles were extremely active. Roseman created cap space by restructuring contracts forRodney McLeod and Lane Johnson. Players including Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce, Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jake Elliott, and Ronald Darby all re-signed with the team for the 2019 season or beyond. Big splash moves included the addition of Malik Jackson and trading for former Eagle Desean Jackson.
However, the Eagles traded defensive end Michael Bennett to the New England Patriots. Bennett was arguably their best defensive lineman in 2018. Howie Roseman is known as a wizard with cap space and still has money to spend. There could still be moves on the horizon but as of now, there is uncertainty at certain positions. With the current roster and draft picks, here are three routes that the Eagles could take next month.
The Eagles have a big hole to fill as Jordan Hicks heads to the desert to play for the Arizona Cardinals. Bush is an impact player who will not only stabilize the defense but will change the speed on that side of the ball. He is seen as undersized for the position but all he does is make big plays. He has elite speed and goes side to sideline every play. Bush dominated at the combine at his pro day. His instincts and desire cannot be taught. In a division with Saquon Barkley, Derrius Guice, and Ezekiel Elliott, you need linebackers who can make big plays.
2 Pick 53: Zach Allen, DE, Boston College
At 6-foot-5 and 280-plus pounds, Zach Allen is a monster. His athleticism for his size and numerous pass-rushing/block-shedding moves is what makes him special. Allen can move all around the line and get to the quarterback as well as track down the ball carrier. At BC, Allen played all four years and displayed his unique hand fighting skills. There is not much depth behind Graham and Barnett for the Eagles and Allen is the more than ideal pick to bolster that rotation.
2 Pick 57: David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State
Here is one of my favorite players in the draft. There is no clear cut first-round talent at running back in this draft. The RBs either did not show enough on film or did not play against the right competition. However, David Montgomery is looking to change that as he has his eyes on draft day. Montgomery is a perfect fit in a Doug Pederson offense. He is a hard-nosed runner who also has incredible elusiveness and balance. In his time at Iowa State, Montgomery was as efficient and dominate as you could have asked for. If you put him next to Wentz and the rest of that offense, something special is going to happen.
4 Pick 127: Michael Dieter, G, Wisconsin
Dieter is an incredible Big Ten lineman who played in 54 games and made 54 consecutive starts. In addition, he is versatile as he played 24 games at left guard, 16 at center and 14 at left tackle. Dieter’s senior class that went 42-12, including a 27-8 Big Ten record and a 4-0 record in bowl games. He was a team captain and was the core of a rushing attack that led the Big Ten and ranked No. 6 nationally, averaging 273.4 yards per game. In the NFC East, a strong and deep offensive line is crucial. Dieter could compete right away for a starting spot in the absence of Brandon Brooks who is currently recovering from an Achilles injury.
4 Pick 138: David Sills, WR, West Virginia
Sills was recruited to play quarterback at the University of Southern California prior to high school. He was a phenomenal talent and was under a spotlight at an early age. However, he suffered a knuckle injury and it forced him to transition to receiver. His QB level IQ allows him to understand defensive schemes and what his quarterback may be thinking. He runs smooth routes, has incredible hands, and is a player that you can always rely on. Wentz would absolutely fall in love with this kid. He is a big target at 6’3″ and is always making his quarterbacks’ job easier. Sills potential in the NFL cannot be overstated.
5 Pick 163: Terry Beckner, Jr., DT Missouri
The Eagles already filled the void left by Timmy Jerniganat defensive tackle with Malik Jackson; however, they still need depth. Beckner Jr. is a first-round talent but injuries have limited his projections. That being said, he played all four years and only missed a few games. Beckner bullies interior lineman and is a violent tackler. At 6’4 300 pounds, Beckner Jr., in a limited role behind Jackson and Cox will thrive and give Schwartz another elite interior lineman.
6 Pick 198: Will Harris, S, Boston College
Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod are ready to lead the safety group in Philadelphia. Those two have done an incredible job and now it is time for them to teach their heir how to play the position the right way. Harris is a 6’2″ 210-pound safety who uses his length and speed to make incredible plays. His instincts are top notch and he is a sure tackler. Harris can truly develop into a top safety in the league, especially if he has the likes of Jenkins and McLeod to follow.
Mock Draft Route 2:
1 Pick 25: Joshua Jacobs RB Alabama
Another first-round running back in the NFC East. The Eagles have not taken a first-round running back since Keith Byars in 1986. Historically, the Eagles have taken chances in free agency or hit on a later round. This offseason has been unique because there were several RBs that the Eagles could have afforded but decided to go a different route. After reviewing the tape and checking in on stories of his character, Joshua Jacobs is worthy of the Eagles 25th overall pick. Jacobs is another stud in a long line of past Alabama running backs. His speed and acceleration are elite. He can catch short to longer passes and is incredible in the open field. More importantly, his ability in pass protection almost has him serve as another lineman. Wentz will seldom have to worry about the rush when he has Jacobs there ready to layout opposing defenders. Some see the lack of touches and worry, I think that is his best feature. Jacobs has little wear and tear but when given opportunities, he displayed his full complement of skills. Running backs coach Duce Staley would have his most talented back to work with since LeSean McCoy. To add Jacobs to an offense that already has Desean Jackson, Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, and Dallas Goedert could arguably make the Eagles the best offense in the NFC. There are few people that can watch him on a football field and not dream of having him wearing their favorite teams’ colors.
With the unknown of when injured guard Brandon Brooks will return, it is important to add depth to this Eagles offensive line. Lindstrom is extremely explosive off the snap. He utilizes his leverage and quick hands to maintain a strong base. His open field blocking is impressive and consistent. Lindstrom loves contact and will lay in on the line every play to help out his team. Alongside Jason Kelce to his left and Lane Johnson to his right, Lindstrom will fit right in.
2 Pick 57: Jaylon Ferguson, DE, Louisiana Tech
Ferguson is a first round talent but his stock took a slide after his combine invitation was rescinded due to a fight from his freshman year. Ferguson holds the NCAA’s all-time sack record with 45. There are character issues; however, when you have a culture and locker room as strong as the Eagles, that gives you less pause and worry. Ferguson has incredible speed off of the edge. His best attribute is his motor. Ferguson is relentless to the ball carrier whether that be the QB or a skill player. With Barnett and Graham ready to start, Ferguson would thrive coming off of the sideline. Ferguson could spend his first year learning from veterans like Long, Cox, Jenkins, etc. on how to thrive on and off the field.
4 Pick 127: Cameron Smith, ILB, USC
Cameron Smith is one of the best players you have never heard about. He is an old school linebacker who flies to the ball like a missile. Smith totaled 353 tackles in four years as a starter at USC. He was not only the captain of the defense, but he was also its heart and soul. His passionate play inspired his teammates to always compete regardless of the score. Smith could become the middle linebacker for the Eagles that they hoped the often injured Jordan Hicks would be.
Here is one of the more intriguing players in this year’s draft. Not only was his tape in college impressive, but he showed up at the Senior Bowl literally doing backflips. At 320 pounds, Saunders showed his explosive athleticism not only doing backflips but with his awesome play in the Senior Bowl game. This pick gives the Eagles some more depth behind Cox and Jackson. With the guidance of the veterans ahead of him and not an immediate need for him to be a day one starter, Saunders can grow into his skills.
The only knock on Fulgham is the level of competition he faced. This should not be a problem because all of his best attributes transfer well into the next level. The Old Dominion product has elite separation quickness, ball skills, route-running, speed/burst, and can make contested catches. At 6’3″, Fulgham is a large target and has incredible body control. He should make sure to befriend Alshon Jefferyand learn from one of the best possession receivers in the leagues. He is going to be a mid to late round pick and has tremendous value at this pick.
As stated in the first mock, the Eagles need to find a safety to succeed Jenkins and McLeod. Maybe they find their man earlier in the draft but there a lot of hidden gems in this class. Chase Hansen from the University of Utah has a huge ceiling once he enters the league. Hansen is long in size and utilizes this trait to regularly make impressive plays. In 2018, Hansen was the biggest impact player for the Utah defense. He had 114 tackles, five sacks, and two interceptions. It is interesting to see how well Rasul Douglass stepped in at safety at times. Hansen and Douglass both have similar attributes and it would be interesting to see them both fight for safety positions if Douglass makes the transition.
Trade! Eagles trade Pick 53 and Pick 127 for Pick 24 and Pick 141 from Oakland.
The Raiders currently hold three first round picks in the 2019 draft. It is very possible that they retain those picks; however, using hindsight, it would be smart to trade one of those picks. First round picks are where the “best” players are found but that comes at a cost. The Raiders would have to re-sign all three picks eventually and that could be expensive. By making this move, the Eagles can make a splash move by having back to back first round picks. The Raiders will now have one of the Eagles second round picks and one of their fourth-round picks. This trade benefits both sides. It is quite similar to the Eagles trade with Baltimore last year, except now Philadelphia would be trading back into the first round.
1 Pick 24: Cody Ford, T/G, Oklahoma
Lineman is never the attractive first-round picks, but Cody Ford is an absolute monster. With some uncertainty with the offensive line and the questions surrounding an aging Jason Peters, Ford is the answer. Using the pick received from Oakland, Philadelphia can draft Ford as a day one starter. Ford can play outside and inside. Even though Peters appeared in every game in 2018, he often left games due to injuries. Ford would learn from one of the best with line coach Jeff Stoutland as well as be next to four Pro-Bowl linemen in Peters, Johnson, Kelce, and Brooks (when healthy).
Ferrell is a three-year starter for the juggernaut Clemson defense. In those three years, he compiled 165 tackles, 27 sacks, 50.5 tackles for loss. At 6’3″ 270 pounds, Ferrell is poised to make a big splash at the next level. Ferrell will use his elite pass rushing skills to bolster a rotation with Barnett and Graham. This would be a great use of their first-round pick as defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz still plans to only rush four and drop seven into coverage. In this defense, you need multiple skilled rushers and Ferrell would add to an already impressive stable of rushers.
Mack Wilson could very well go in the first round but recently, he is being valued as a day two pick. Wilson flies to the ball and makes impact plays regularly. The one knock on his game is his ability to diagnose plays fast enough for the next level. However, anyone who watched him in big games for Alabama regularly saw him fly to the ball against elite competition. Wilson is coming from Alabama that has produced some of the better linebackers and defensive players currently in the NFL. The Eagles will be facing stiff competition in the run game and adding Wilson will pay dividends this season.
Justice Hill is electric. Hill will remind you a lot of the Indianapolis Colts Marlon Mack, who has great balance, burst, and lateral quickness. In 2018, Hill had a drop off in production from his incredible 2017 season, but was still effective and is valued as a high draft pick. More importantly, Hill received 100 fewer carries than the previous two years and still almost eclipsed 1,000 yards. In his three seasons, he averaged 5.7 yards per carry and 10 touchdowns each year. He has avoided major injuries and has shown in-game toughness on every snap. Although Hill is not known as an elite short yardage back, he regularly finds the hole or creates space on his own. Hill can become the next great mid-round find at running back.
5 Pick 141: Miles Boykin, WR, Notre Dame
Boykin is a player much like DK Metcalf, who struggled with producing in college but absolutely impressed at the scouting combine. He is coming off a good year where he caught 59 receptions for 872 yards and eight touchdowns. At 6’4″, Boykin can absolutely fly horizontally and vertically as he ran a 4.42 40 and jumped 43.5 inches for his vertical. With the right coaching and mentors, Boykin’s best football is yet to come.
5 Pick 163: Mike Bell, S, Fresno State
There is safety depth all over the place in this draft. None of these guys are screaming first round but they’ll make an impact after they find their home. Safety Mike Bell from Fresno State is impressive. Bell has great ball skills and is always attacking the ball at the high point rather than waiting. He is not afraid of contact and regularly makes impressive tackles.
After a breakout season in 2018, Johnson is poised to make an impact at the next level. At 6-foot-4 and 335 pounds, he has great size for the NFL just not a complete resume. Johnson is worthy of this late pick and having vets like Cox and Jackson to show him techniques and skills will go a long way. Johnson, a junior college transfer from Sacramento, piled up 31 tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble in his senior year.