With NFL Draft night only a little over three weeks away, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has released Version 4.0 of his 2016 NFL Mock Draft. Previously, Kiper had the Eagles taking a defensive lineman in Version 1.0, an offensive lineman in Version 2.0, and an offensive lineman again in Version 3.0. This time around Kiper has the Eagles taking another player in the trenches but it might be a name you didn't expect (via In$ider).
"DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon - A steal at this point, Buckner would look pretty good on a defensive line with Fletcher Cox. Buckner has the ability to really control an offensive lineman and disrupt offenses, and his versatility makes him useful pretty much anywhere."
It would really be something if the Eagles spent their first round pick on an Oregon Ducks player after firing Chip Kelly, wouldn't it?
Anyway, back to Buckner. The 24-year-old defensive lineman is a big guy. He measures in at 6-7, 291 pounds. In four years playing for Oregon, Buckner was productive. He racked up 232 tackles (36 for loss), 18 sacks, 10 passes deflected, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.
But is he a good fit for the Eagles? BGN draft writer Ben Natan recently wrote about Buckner. He has Buckner ranked as the fifth best EDGE defender in this draft class.
Buckner is a weird player because at 6-7 and over 290 pounds, it is hard to know where to put him in a defense. Many talk about him playing EDGE in the NFL, but I feel he is best suited as a two gapping type of player. He is a strong player, who uses his length well and has a high motor, but he plays with poor leverage and is not explosive, even for his size. I think he is a very solid prospect who will be a valuable player in the NFL, but it is hard to see him be a top tier player and he is seemingly maxed out as a prospect.
A number of mock drafts have Buckner landing with the San Francisco 49ers at No. 7. And not only because of Chip Kelly's #OregonBias but also because Buckner has experience playing as a two-gapping 3-4 defensive end. He might not be as great of a fit in Jim Schwartz's 4-3 defense featuring the wide-9.
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.
So do you like this pick for the Eagles? Here's who came off the board before Philadelphia's selection at No. 8.
1) Tennessee Titans - OT Laremy Tunsil
2) Cleveland Browns - QB Carson Wentz
3) San Diego Chargers - DB Jalen Ramsey
4) Dallas Cowboys - DE Joey Bosa
5) Jacksonville Jaguars - LB Myles Jack
6) Baltimore Ravens - RB Ezekiel Elliott
7) San Francisco 49ers - QB Jared Goff