The 2016 NFL Draft is slowly but surely approaching. Mock draft season is in full gear and there's no shortage of opinion as to whom the Eagles will be selecting with the No. 8 overall pick. Let's take a look at which players the experts are projecting to Philadelphia.
FanSpeak (Custom) - Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
The Eagles still need to draft a quarterback despite re-signing Sam Bradford and acquiring Chase Daniel in free agency. The oft-injured Bradford is essentially playing on a one-year deal. Daniel has been a backup for his entire career and turns 30 in October. Neither Bradford nor Daniel is close to being a sure-fire long-term option at the quarterback position. I can't help but wonder if the Eagles traded up to No. 8 in order to be in better position to draft a passer. They might not be done moving up yet. They also may have felt the need to trade up because the Los Angeles Rams, who pick at No. 15, have enough ammo to move up for a quarterback since they have two high second round picks. Drafting Wentz now would allow the Eagles to develop a quarterabck without rushing him into game action right away.
SB Nation (Dan Kadar) - Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
"Running back value be damned, Elliott is regarded as one of the draft's 10 best players by NFL evaluators. In dropping DeMarco Murray after one season, and moving inside the top 10, the Eagles are in a position to pick Elliott. He can do everything you want in a running back and will give Philadelphia a player to build the offense around."
PhillyVoice (Jimmy Kempski) - Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
"Stanley is one of my favorite prospects in this draft. I watched two of his games last year against two completely different types of edge rushers. The first was against Florida State, when he battled Mario Edwards all day. Edwards goes 6'3, 280, and is a powerful defensive end who was selected 35th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. Edwards didn't catch a whiff of Notre Dame's QB, and he was moved off the line of scrimmage all day in the run game. The other game was against LSU's Danielle Hunter, who is an athletic freak. Very different type of player, same result. Stanley is a slam dunk Day 1 starter in the NFL. He is extremely athletic, with very quick feet. It would have been highly unlikely for him to fall to the Eagles at 13, but at 8 he could be in play. Drafting Stanley might tempt the Eagles to just leave Lane Johnson at RT and let Stanley fill in at LT."
NFL.com (Bucky Brooks) - Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
"With Jason Peters entering the twilight of his career, the Eagles could grab his successor at this point."
NFL.com (Daniel Jeremiah) - Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
"The Eagles need to get more explosive in the backfield and Elliott would be a perfect fit."
Drafttek - Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
CBS Sports (Rob Rang) - Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
"As much as the Eagles might wish it, simply trading away free-agent disappointment Byron Maxwell isn't likely to be a case of addition by subtraction. This remains a leaky secondary, and in a division with Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham, Jr, that won't work. Hargreaves is a three-time All-SEC pick with terrific agility, instincts, ball-skills and physicality as a tackler."
CBS Sports (Dane Brugler) - Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
"With Demarco Murray now in Tennessee and Ryan Matthews also on the trade block, the Eagles are looking for a new identity at running back. Elliott has the talent to be the featured piece of Doug Pederson's offense."
CBS Sports (Pete Prisco) - Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
"Sam Bradford isn't the long-term answer. Chase Daniel isn't either. The word is they are eyeing a quarterback, which this move up helps. They can take a player who can learn for a year or so."
CBS Sports (Will Brinson) - Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
"It's a savvy move to get up in the draft by Howie Roseman here, especially with it helping him dump salary and replace Byron Maxwell's hefty deal with a cheaper, better option."
Rotoworld (Josh Norris) - Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
"Hargreaves’ 2015 season did not match 2014, but it was far from bad or even average. The Eagles might value size and length at corner that Hargreaves does not offer. That is tough to know at this moment. But Hargreaves does offer athleticism (he’s more athletic than 97 percent of NFL CBs) and is an aggressive player."
Pro Football Focus (Cris Collinsworth) - Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
"The Eagles traded up with Miami to get into the first eight picks, and it was worth the effort. Stanley has been a rock for the Fighting Irish, and I have seen most of the games because my son Austin played for the team. Stanley will be a 15-year cornerstone at tackle on an offensive line that needs help. You could argue the Eagles need more help inside, but Stanley is one of those key cornerstones you can’t pass on. He is not as athletic as Laremy Tunsil, but a player who will be better than 75 percent of NFL tackles by his second year. Stanley needs to get stronger against bull rushers, but he is quick off the ball and uses his long arms to his full advantage. He also has plenty of quickness to get to the second level and make plays in the screen game. On the negative side, Stanley can look a little awkward sometimes trying to recover when getting beat, but he is NFL-ready today. Eagles left tackle Jason Peters has been one of my favorite players for a long time, but his injury issues are starting to be a concern, and the Eagles are a different team without him. Stanley is not as athletic as Peters, but he has to be the pick here."
Ourlads - Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Real Football Network - Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Sports Illustrated (Chris Burke) - Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
"It’s easy enough to drop Elliott at this spot—the Eagles likely had someone in mind when they moved up as part of their recent trade with Miami, and Elliott is a top-five talent in this class. But Stanley also won’t slip far behind this. Philadelphia has to make plans for Jason Peters’s eventual departure, whether it comes this year or in the near future."
NJ.com (Eliot Shorr-Parks) - Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
"Conklin might have been there at No. 13 overall, the Eagles' pick prior to trading with the Miami Dolphins. The good news is he will almost certainly be there at No. 8, which could be why the Eagles traded up. Conklin fills a need at tackle in the future and also an immediate need at guard."
San Diego Union-Tribune (Eddie Brown) - DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
"Buckner can play the run and rush the passer when he puts his mind to it. He finished the regular season with 11 sacks, 14 hits and 39 hurries on the quarterback."
NFL Spin Zone (Jeremy Klump) - Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
"The Eagles should stay at number eight and see how the draft plays out because they could walk away with a potential star, and in my opinion, the best defensive back in the draft class, Vernon Hargreaves III. Hargreaves is a guy that fits exactly what the Eagles haven’t had and what they need if they want to take their defense to the next level."
Here's a summary of the picks:
OT Ronnie Stanley - 5
RB Ezekiel Elliott - 5
CB Vernon Hargreaves - 4
OT Jack Conklin - 1
QB Carson Wentz - 1
QB Paxton Lynch - 1
DE DeForest Buckner - 1
OT - 6
RB - 5
CB - 4
QB - 2
DE - 1
Offense - 13
Defense - 5
There seem to be three common favorites for the Eagles' pick at No. 8: Elliott, Hargreaves, and Stanley.
We've already written about Elliott multiple times.
As for Hargreaves, well, I don't think that's super likely. The Eagles currently have nine cornerbacks on the roster, and that's not including safety Malcolm Jenkins who can play in the slot. It's not impossible that they'd take a corner because some of the guys currently on the team are unproven depth guys. Veterans Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin, meanwhile, could both realistically be gone after this year. None of Philadelphia's current cornerbacks outside of Eric Rowe project to be No. 1 type guys. If Hargreaves can be that guy, it might be worth taking him.
Stanley is a popular pick because the Eagles absolutely need to focus on the offensive line in this draft. But is Stanley worth the pick at No. 8? Some are skeptical. First, Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz:
Why is Stanley not in the other group? Many people think he is a slam dunk Top 10 pick and sure thing. I think he is a good prospect, but a level down from Tunsil. Stanley posted terrible times in the 3-cone and short shuttle, two athletic tests that focus on agility. That bugs me a bit when talking about him 8th overall. Watch the USC game and you’ll think Stanley should go Top 5. Watch the Clemson game and he’s more like a mid-1st rounder. Tough, physical defenders can give him problems. And the notion that the Eagles could take him and put him at LG for 2016…don’t be so sure about that. They could try that as a short term move, but Stanley looks more like a pure OT to me. I wouldn’t be upset with Stanley at 8, but he’s not close to being my preference. I don’t see him as a special prospect.
Kyle Posey of Bolts From The Blue writes Stanley isn't worth a top 10 pick.
"Big" media will tell you Stanley is worth a top 5-10 pick. Is a tackle that struggles in space, can't change direction, lacks core strength and proper hand placement worth that? Okay then. I don't hate Stanley. I think he does really well against speed rushers. I think there is enough good tape to show you he can be a starter in the league. There's also plenty of exposures and situations where he'll struggle immediately and I'm not sure if some of these issues will be fixed any time soon. I have a late 2nd round grade on Stanley. The buyer beware tag on him is real. I'm apologizing now for my overreaction if he's drafted in the 1st round.
Out of the current big three, who do you want the Birds to take?