ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay released a new 2016 NFL mock draft this week. It's a little different than his typical mock drafts. This one is inspired by what Mel Kiper calls his "Grade A" edition of mock drafts. The difference here is that McShay isn't projecting the picks; he's acting as the general manager of each team and trying to do what's in their best interest. Check out the entire thing here via ESPN In$ider. Here's how the Eagles' first three draft picks played out.
Round 1 (8): Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Round 3 (77): Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor
Round 3 (79): Shon Coleman, OT, Auburn
Analysis: No, I don't normally advocate for taking a running back in the first round, but there are exceptions to every rule. Adrian Peterson was one back in 2007, Todd Gurley was another in 2015, and Elliott is yet another this year. He's an instinctive runner, a tough blocker and a natural pass-catcher. A Day 1 starter, Elliott would take pressure off QB Sam Bradford from the get-go. Both Howard and Coleman would help the Eagles add depth at cornerback and tackle, respectively.
The seven players who went off the board before Elliott include: Laremy Tunsil, Carson Wentz, DeForest Buckner, Jared Goff, Myles Jack, Joey Bosa, and Jalen Ramsey. So both of the "top two" quarterbacks are out of the picture.
We've written about Elliott ad nauseam. He's been mocked to the Eagles approximately a billion times this offseason so I've run out of things to say about him. It is worth noting Elliott is visiting the Eagles in Philadelphia this week.
As for Philadelphia's third round picks, let's start with Xavien Howard. The 22-year-old defensive back measures in at 6-0, 201 pounds. Howard has a knack for making plays on the ball. He finished his three-year college football career with 10 interceptions and 23 passes defensed. The downside to Howard is he's prone to penalties. Here's a scouting report via NFL.com:
Howard's feast or famine playing style makes for very uneven tape and teams will have to weigh his ball production against his pass interference issues. Howard has the size and short area quickness to operate from press coverage, but might need safety help his way while he is weaned from his grabby, collegiate style of coverage. Howard has starter's potential, but must improve his technique and step up his run support to be successful in the league.
It's a lock that the Eagles will draft at least one offensive lineman. McShay has the Birds taking the 6-5, 307 pound Shon Coleman. Coleman turns 25 in November. He didn't play football during his first two years at Auburn because he was battling leukemia. Thankfully for him he was able to beat cancer and become a starter at left tackle. He started 25 games in 32 college career appearances. Here's a scouting report via NFL.com.
Coleman's strengths and weaknesses are strikingly similar to those of former Auburn left tackle Greg Robinson, but Coleman lacks the same level of athleticism. Coleman uses his length and redirect strength to overcome some of his lunging and waist-bending, but those issues will be highlighted against NFL edge rushers. Coleman is a long, talented run blocker who could garner early round attention at either tackle position if NFL teams are okay with their deep dive into his medicals.
To recap: Elliott would be an instant starter for the Eagles. Howard would have a chance to earn a starting job but he'd likely end up as a backup for now. Coleman would be a backup at tackle. The big man could eventually take over for Lane Johnson at right tackle once Johnson replaces Jason Peters at left tackle.
So what do you think of these picks?