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NFL Draft Mailbag: O.J. Howard can be an asset for the Eagles

Answering your draft questions!

CFP National Championship Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

"OJ Howard. OJ Howard. OJ Howard. Do you agree?" - Jesse

Well, I definitely agree with O.J. Howard as an existential being. He certainly exists physically. However, I feel like you are asking about if the Eagles should take him in the first? In short, Howard is the most valuable pass catching option in this draft. While underutilized at Alabama, he showed off his immense ability when he was involved. Yes, he is a tight end and the Eagles have Ertz, Burton and ol' faithful, but that should not prevent the Eagles from coveting what Howard can do. A 6-5, 250 pound target who runs sub 4.6 down the middle of a defense will make the rest of the offense better. A field can get stretched up the seam and Howard can line up in the slot or inline. This does not hurt the offense at all because you can have Ertz and Howard on the field at the same time and Howard's speed will create space for Matthews and Ertz to work. Do not overthink this. Howard is a gifted pass catcher and this team desperately needs gifted pass catchers.

"Could you see the Eagles doubling up at cornerback and using two of their first three picks on the position a la the 2002 draft?" - Gino

The Eagles would benefit from taking advantage of this deep cornerback class. Howie Roseman has a long standing history of valuing the cornerback position and Pederson comes from Andy Reid, who also values it greatly. In this class, there are 20 guys who you could convince me should go in the first two days. With other pressing needs, I doubt they double dip that early in the draft, but taking a guy on the first two days and snagging another potential starter on day three is more likely than you think.

"If the NFL draft was tinder and you only got 10 right swipes, who would you swipe right on?" - Tony

An appropriate Valentine’s Day question, although I am not sure how exactly to answer it. If this is simply who are the 10 best players in the class, I would swipe right on:

Myles Garrett, EDGE, TAMU
Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Dalvin Cook, RB, FSU
Tim Williams, EDGE, Alabama
Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
OJ Howard, TE, Alabama
Curtis Samuel, RB, OSU
Corey Davis, WR, WMU
Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

Four Alabama players in the top ten and Jon Allen barely miss the cut... Looking at this list and thinking about how guys like Allen, Solomon Thomas, Marshon Lattimore and Jamaal Adams miss it is a reminder of how talented this class is. So yeah, in a Tinder situation those would be my right swipes. Hopefully they message first, because I rarely do. (Maybe for Corey Davis I would)

"What do you believe is Carl Lawson's current stock and can he be an instant starter?" - Juan

I am a huge fan of Carl Lawson. Besides Myles Garrett and Tim Williams; Lawson is the best pure edge defender in the draft. His stock is difficult to gauge since a lot of media guys have him outside of the top 20 and even the first round. With Lawson's injury history, it is easy to see teams being a bit skittish on drafting him very high. However, he absolutely could start day one in the Eagles scheme and make an impact as a pass rusher.

"What cornerbacks fit best with what the Eagles want to do?" - Chris

This draft class is insanely deep at cornerback and offers players for every archetype that coaches may be looking for. The Eagles play a lot of off coverage and need ball skills at the position. A guy like Teez Tabor or Sidney Jones make a lot of sense because of their ball skills and athletic ability. Tabor is the better prospect due to his huge upside, but Jones is a polished cornerback who can consistently make plays from day one. Either fits well with what the Eagles want and would be a massive upgrade over this year's group.

"How many quarterbacks in this class are better than Carson Wentz?" - Dylan

Well this is going to get me fried, but I would take Deshuan Watson, Patrick Mahomes and Deshone Kizer over Carson Wentz coming out of NDSU. The former three are all younger, more experienced prospects who have better all around physical tools than Wentz did coming out of NDSU. Without getting too much into it, those three are a lot more capable of starting immediately than Wentz was. Once again, I'll probably get fried for that, but the three guys at the top of this class are all damn good football players. I will say I liked Wentz a lot more than I like Mitch Trubisky. Trubisky has mediocre footwork, an inconsistent arm and is risk averse to a fault. Wentz was much more willing to pull the trigger on big throws at NDSU and he also has much more natural arm strength. Trubisky's hype still makes no sense to me.

"Should the Eagles trade up or back?" - Jack

If the Eagles wanted to trade up for one of the many potentially game changing playmakers in this class, I would be game for it. A guy like Corey Davis, Dalvin Cook or OJ Howard could potentially go much higher than the Eagles pick. Thus, an aggressive move up in the first round would make a lot of sense. As for trading back; that should really be a last result. The Eagles are not in a position where they can pass on talented players to trade back in the draft unless the payout is hard to ignore. In reality, the Eagles are better off staying put to take BPA or trading up to get this offense a playmaker.

"Do you think the Eagles should be looking at prospects such as Jarrad Davis or Raekwon McMillan?" - Rijeame

With Mychael Kendricks probably out this offseason, adding a linebacker through the draft makes a lot of sense. In the mid rounds Davis and McMillan would be excellent additions, albeit they are very different players. While McMillan is a consistent, downhill thumper, Davis is a smaller, super athletic guy who makes big plays but also gives them up. Considering the third linebacker in this defense was not on the field much in 2016 due to the team primarily in nickel/dime sets, I would love to see the team take a guy with Davis' upside and develop him.

"True or False: Jabrill Peppers is, at best, the second best linebacker from the B1G alone?" - Derrik

I would err on the side of this being true, but I don't even think Peppers is a linebacker in the NFL. He may be the biggest enigma in this entire class because he is a linebacker who excels against the run, but is not great in coverage. However, he is a tiny linebacker who depends mostly on his speed and he is an inconsistent tackler. The physical gifts are evident with Jabrill Peppers, but I don't think he has a clear NFL position.

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