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NFL Mock Draft 2016: Mel Kiper Grade A Edition

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Check out our (2016 Eagles mock draft central) for more opinions on who could be the #8 pick in April.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper released a new 2016 NFL mock draft. It's a little different than his typical mock drafts. He calls this version his "Grade A" edition. The difference here is that Kiper isn't just 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): DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
Round 3 (77): Jerald Hawkins, OT, LSU
Round 3 (79): Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas


Analysis: Those of you clamoring for Ezekiel Elliott, sorry. When I'm picking we're just not touching a running back this high. What we will do is get a gifted defensive lineman who could be scary on the same line as Fletcher Cox in the short term, and could end up being extremely valuable if we decide not to open the vault for Cox in the future. I'd at least think about Jack Conklin at No. 8, but Buckner is a steal there and could be a big piece of the puzzle going forward. We need to get an offensive lineman, so Hawkins gets the call in Round 3. (Remember, no second-round pick.) I like the physical talent, he just needs some coaching. Collins has had occasional ball-security issues, but in terms of raw ability he's much closer to Elliott than many realize.

The seven players who went off the board before Buckner include: Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Laremy Tunsil, Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, Joey Bosa, and Ronnie Stanley. So both the top two quarterbacks and the top two offensive lineman are off the board. Kiper is one of the rare mock drafters who has the Birds passing on Elliott.

Kiper projected Buckner to the Eagles in his Version 4.0 mock draft. Here's what we wrote at the time:

It'd be surprising to see the Eagles address the defensive line in the first round. They need depth at the position, sure, but their starters are pretty much set. They're paying three different players starter money at defensive end with Brandon Graham, Connor Barwin, and Vinny Curry. At defensive tackle the Eagles are set with Bennie Logan (26 years old) and Fletcher Cox (25 years old). Howie Roseman has talked about this year's draft class is deep on the defensive line so the Birds can probably find depth later on.

I don't think Buckner would necessarily be a bad pick for the Eagles. I don't think it's necessarily an ideal pick, either.

Let's get to Philadelphia's third round selections. The 22-year-old Jerald Hawkins is listed at 6-6, 305 pounds. Hawkins started every game at right tackle in 2014 before moving to left tackle in 2015. Here's a scouting report on Hawkins via NFL.com:

Hawkins is a tough evaluation because the length and footwork in pass protection are promising, but issues with bend and body control may be difficult to correct. Hawkins has talent, but his ceiling might be tied directly to whether a team allows him to sit while an offensive line coach works to correct the technical flaws that limit his effectiveness. Hawkins best spot may be right tackle.

The Eagles need to draft at least one offensive lineman this year. Hawkins could serve as a top backup at either tackle position in the short-term while eventually taking over at right tackle when Lane Johnson moves to the left side of the offensive line.

Collins measures in at 5-10, 217 pounds. The 21-year-old running back rushed for 3,703 yards (5.6 average) and 36 touchdowns on 665 carries at Arkansas. He only caught 27 passes for 167 yards and no touchdowns during that three-year span, however. One would think the Eagles are looking for a rusher who can also bring value as a receiver based on Doug Pederson being a disciple of Andy Reid's west coast offense. Collins also struggles with ball control. He fumbled 17 times in college and lost nine of them. Here's a scouting report on Collins via NFL.com:

Collins is the epitome of consistency rushing for over 1,000 yards and at least 5.4 yards per carry in each of his three seasons. Vision and footwork are the catalysts for his elusiveness and he has flashed long speed. Collins is a repetitive runner lacking dynamic talent, but he's run in gap, power and zone schemes and should be a scheme fit for most teams looking at running back. Collins should be able to step right in and challenge for carries and red zone work immediately.

The Eagles have a big need at running back. They have to draft one at some point this year.

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So what do you think of these picks?