The 2015 NFL Draft is now only two days away, but the mock drafts are far from over. The latest one comes from Peter King of The MMQB.
With the No. 20 overall pick, King has the Eagles taking ... a shocker: Arizona State safety Damarious Randall. Here's his reasoning behind it:
"Very close to two others here: Jaelen Strong or nimble Oregon tackle Jake Fisher. I just want to drive WIP radio crazy; that’s all. I’ll be listening for the gasp from the crowd at the draft party in Philadelphia if the little-known Randall is the pick. "WHO?!!!!! KELLY, YOU’RE NUTS!!!!!" Well, Philadelphians, I’ll tell you this much, to assuage your anger, if it helps: Randall’s become a sexy pick late in round one over the past couple of weeks. Chip Kelly knows he’ll be able to score enough points, and he knows he can get useable receivers down the line. He wants a player with a defensive presence who has a chance to make plays somewhere on D, and the Eagles think Randall can do that."
While it seems like King is trolling a little bit, it also seems like he might know something with a line like "the Eagles think Randall can [make plays]."
I always find King's mock drafts to be interesting. Well, at least as much as you can find a mock draft interesting. Here's why: In 2011, King was one of the few (if only?) people to have Danny Watkins mocked to the Eagles. Last year, King had the Eagles trading up for Odell Beckham Jr. The Eagles didn't end up getting Beckham but the team probably did try to trade up considering Chip Kelly thought Beckham was the best player in the entire draft. Maybe King is right about Randall this year.
The Eagles definitely have a desperate need at the safety position after losing Nate Allen in free agency and replacing him with no one. Randall was hosted by Philadelphia on a pre-draft visit early in the draft process. The Birds also met with the Arizona State safety for a private workout.
NFL draft guru Mike Mayock thinks Randall, and not Landon Collins, is the best safety in the 2015 NFL Draft class. He explained why via the Daily News:
"Randall is by far the best cover safety in the draft. Because of the way Arizona State plays defense, you can see him play a ton of man-to-man, which is so helpful (in evaluating him). He’s a guy that there’s been a lot of buzz about for the last month or so. He reminds me of Jimmy Ward, who was drafted in the first round last year by San Francisco. But he’s not as physical or as good a tackler as Ward."
Here's a scouting report on Randall via NFL.com.
"Strengths - Plus athlete with good speed. Scouts love his toughness and effort. Inspired effort as a tackler, racking up 177 tackles during two-year stint at Arizona State. Looks to punish. Explodes into targets and jolts his victims. Takes very good angles in space in run support. Instinctive blitzer who times snap and has a nose for the quarterback. Senses throws underneath and breaks on them early. Highly competitive on 50/50 throws and won't give an inch to receiver. Took two interceptions for scores. Good hands -- played some wide receiver in junior college and was also an explosive returner while there.
Weaknesses - Small for safety position. Has box characteristics but lacking box size. Instincts as a free safety are average. Could be forced to play cornerback. Needs technique work in coverage. Must learn line-of-scrimmage skills and work on coordinating feet and hips. Allows wideouts to eat up cushion. Desire to attack leads to false steps against play-action. Fails to play with proper depth at times. Gets a little loose with technique as a tackler at times, causing him to miss.
Draft Projection - Round 3 or 4
Bottom Line - Randall is considered undersized for the safety position and some teams have him projected as a cornerback. While he has the speed and athletic traits to transition to cornerback, his cover skills and technique need quite a bit of work to be ready for the NFL level. Randall has a nose for the ball and a strong desire to make an aggressive tackle in space, so there could still be teams that give him a legitimate shot at safety, where he carries a higher draft grade."
The Eagles surprised everyone with the Marcus Smith at No. 26 last year. Howie Roseman was supposedly responsible for that pick, but Kelly picking Randall at No. 20 this year would be similarly surprising.
The MMQB also released a counter to King's mock draft called the Anti-Mock Draft. Greg A. Bedard has the Eagles taking a familiar safety at No. 20:
"Landon Collins, S, Alabama - Stock up on receivers later. Complete the overhaul of that terrible secondary with the draft’s best corner. Pair him with FS Malcolm Jenkins, and the Eagles may be cooking with gas."