Mike Mayock has some bad news for Philadelphia Eagles fans. The NFL draft analyst opened his annual press conference held before the NFL Combine by giving a brief overview of which positions in the upcoming NFL Draft are the strongest and weakest.
He identified two specific areas of concern. They just so happen to be two positions where the Eagles could upgrade afford to upgrade. "It's going to be very thin at quarterback and safety," Mayock explained.
Mayock's sentiment is reflected in his most recent positional rankings. Here's what he has at quarterback:
1. Jameis Winston, Florida State
2. Marcus Mariota, Oregon
3. Bryce Petty, Baylor
4. Brett Hundley, UCLA
5. Garrett Grayson, Colorado State
Winston and Mariota are obviously the two big names, with neither currently expected to fall out of the top 10 (if the top 5, even). Mayock touched on the possibility of the Eagles (or another team) trading up for one of the quarterbacks.
"I think it's an interesting philosophy because philosophically I would tell you that there are only 10 or 12 franchise quarterbacks in the league defined by your confidence in thinking that kid can lead you to a Super Bowl. So if there are only 10 or 12 in the league and you don't have one of them, part of the theory is you better go get them, and that's what Washington did.
Washington went and got the guy they thought could help them win the Super Bowl. Because of what's happened to that kid, both with injuries and the way he's played, I think a lot of teams are very nervous about the perception on
mortgaging your future. So I think you've got to be fairly intelligent about this. There aren't a whole lot of Andrew Lucks out there where you bang the table and say that's a short thing.
When Washington pulled the trigger, I applauded it because my point was, hey, they felt like they needed to upgrade the position and they went after it. Either way, if the kid turns into who they think he is, you've got a chance to go win a
Super Bowl. If he doesn't, you're going to get fired anyway. So I think it's an interesting philosophy.
The question I have this year is I'm not sure either of these two guys you can mortgage your future on, unless you just completely understand the kid and buy into the kid a hundred percent and you’re willing to move up.
I don't know if Chip Kelly can go from 20 to wherever, that's a long way to move."
The safety is top-heavy as well. Mayock noted that he projects Shaq Thompson, who doesn't have a defined position, to be a safety in the NFL while some others have him at linebacker. He also said Thompson could make some sense for the Eagles.
1. Landon Collins, Alabama
2. Shaq Thompson, Washington
3. Derron Smith, Fresno State
4. Jaquiski Tartt, Samford
5. Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern
If not Thompson, Mayock notes Landon Collins could be in the mix at No. 20. For what it's worth (probably not much), the Alabama safety has been mocked to the Eagles quite often. It's always worth considering Ed Marynowitz's potential affinity for Crimson Tide players, just like Kelly prefers his Oregon Ducks.
Both Thompson (6-2, 231) and Collins (6-0, 222) are bigger safeties. Mayock thinks they compare to a certain Seattle Seahawks defensive back.
"And Shaq Thompson most people think is a linebacker from Washington. I like him as a Kam Chancellor type big, strong, physical, strong safety that can play dime linebacker in passing situations. I think it's evolving that way. If you look at the kid who played for Arizona, Deone Bucannon who was a late first-round pick a year ago, that's what he did. And I think that's what the model is for these two guys."
The lack of depth at these positions can have you thinking one two ways. The first argument is that it's imperative find an answer at one of these positions early, because if they wait too long they won't be able to get a prospect at that position. On the other hand, maybe it's just best to avoid the position entirely if it's really not so good. Drafting for need isn't always the best idea, as the Eagles saw in 2011, and taking the "best player available" often disregards position to some extent.
The good news for Philadelphia is that they don't necessarily need to draft players at these positions. Quarterback could work itself out if Nick Foles can rebound, though that's far from a guarantee. Free agency might provide some answers for Philadelphia when it comes to the secondary.