NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock only releases one mock draft every year. The unveiling takes place the night before the draft starts.
This year, Mayock has the Eagles set to draft a defensive back: Arizona State's Damarious Randall. If that name looks familiar, it's because Peter King of The MMQB recently had the Eagles taking him as well.
Here's what Mayock had to say:
"I'm going to say Damarious Randall, the free safety out of Arizona State. 5-11, 196. Probably the fastest rising draft pick in this particular draft. Why? Because of his coverage skills. You can see him play man-to-man at Arizona State. He's got great range on the back end. He fits today's game.
Mayock later said that he thinks Chip Kelly thinks the offense is set but the defense needs help. Mayock isn't wrong about the Eagles needing a safety; Philadelphia currently doesn't have a proven starting option next to Malcolm Jenkins. In addition, 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.
But is he really worth a first round pick? Some have their doubts. Sheil Kapadia of Birds 24/7 wrote the following in a draft profile:
"A recent FoxSports.com mock draft had Randall going 29th overall in the first round. That would be insane to me. To be honest, the Eagles spending their second-round pick on him seems like a stretch. The skill set, scheme fit and athleticism are there, but he doesn't have ideal size, struggles at times against the run and gives up too many big plays. Randall could be an option in the third or fourth rounds, but if the Eagles were to snag him before then, I'd be surprised."
Meanwhile, Mayock thinks Randall, and not Landon Collins, is the best safety in the 2015 NFL Draft class. He explained why:
"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."
What do you think of the pick?