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NFL Mock Draft 2017: Surprise Eagles first round pick

How do you feel about this selection?

NCAA Football: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl-Alabama vs Washington Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

As the 2017 NFL Draft approaches, it’s that time of year when the NFL bloggers here at SB Nation get together to do a mock draft. The setup is simple, each writer plays GM for his team and makes the pick. There are no trades. The draft goes two rounds deep.

Last year I ended up with Ezekiel Elliott at No. 8 (before the Eagles traded up). That seems like a pretty good pick to me since Zeke went No. 4 and had a very strong season.

The Philadelphia Eagles' first round pick for this year at No. 14 is now posted on SB Nation. As you can see, I chose ... Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster. Here's my explanation:

Gowton: The Eagles have repeatedly stated this offseason that they’re not “one player away” and thus need to focus on taking the best player available instead of need. That’s exactly what I feel like I’ve done here with this pick. The Eagles obviously have bigger needs at cornerback, defensive line, and wide receiver, but this is all about BPA.

Put simply, Foster is a beast. The prospect of adding him to a linebacking corps that already features a young, explosive playmaker in Jordan Hicks and a good starter in Nigel Bradham is very exciting. Foster could fit in as a 4-3 WILL, which is perfect for the Eagles with Mychal Kendricks likely to be traded this offseason. He’d give the Eagles defense another intimidator.

Though “need” wasn’t the deciding factor behind this pick, it just so happens that Foster’s addition gives the Eagles some much-needed insurance. Hicks, though very talented, has an extensive injury history. Philadelphia needs a backup at middle linebacker if he goes down. It’s also worth noting that Bradham is a free agent after the 2017 season. The veteran linebacker is potentially facing a suspension after some off-field incidents last year. So, linebacker might actually turn out to be a need for the Eagles after all.

Wait a second. A linebacker? Not a cornerback? Or a wide receiver? Or a defensive lineman? Or even a running back? A linebacker?!

Yes.

Allow me to explain. I was targeting Derek Barnett at No. 14 but he went off the board at No. 11. Corey Davis and John Ross were tempting options for me at No. 14 but I felt like Foster and Jonathan Allen were the two best players on the board.

I was torn between Foster and Allen. I know many view Allen as the better prospect, but his arthritic shoulders really worry me. That’s a condition that’s only going to get worse. In addition, Eagles fans voted for Foster over Allen.

The Ringer’s Danny Kelly (formerly of SB Nation) also mocked Foster to the Eagles recently.

The Eagles don’t have a pressing need at middle linebacker — Jordan Hicks is an ascending star at that spot — but Foster’s rare blend of length, range, and ferocious tackling style mean that not only would he provide excellent depth in case of a Hicks injury, but he’s also a potential early starter as a run-and-chase weakside linebacker in Jim Schwartz’s defense. Foster is a force against the run, he can cover tight ends and backs out of the backfield, and as his five sacks last year suggest, he could also be a blitzer in Schwartz’s aggressive scheme.

It’s a bummer that my pick didn’t line up with the Eagles’ immediate needs. But I stand by it. Foster would give the Eagles’ defense another stud player. Philadelphia would arguably have the best linebacking corps in the NFL.

The Eagles have done their homework on Foster (and his Combine incident). The team brought him in for an official pre-draft visit in March.

For more on Foster, check out this scouting report from NFL.com.

Sources Tell Us: "He's not a MIKE linebacker. I think he's a pure run-and-hit WILL linebacker with good cover talent. I'm worried about what his medicals will show because he's had some issues with stingers during his career. I have a higher grade on him than I had on Reggie Ragland. Better pro potential to me." -- NFC director of scouting

NFL Comparison: Bobby Wagner

Bottom Line: Foster is a vicious hitter with elite playmaking range and an ability to toggle between 225 and 240 pounds. Athleticism gives him cover ability that former teammate Reggie Ragland never possessed. Has Pro Bowl potential as a 3-4 inside linebacker or a 4-3 weak-side linebacker, but concerns over his medical history could be a consideration, according to some teams.

So, what do you think of my pick? And who do you want me to take with the Eagles’ second round pick at No. 43 overall?

Poll

Should the Eagles draft REUBEN FOSTER with the No. 14 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft?

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    Yes
    (2062 votes)
  • 34%
    No
    (1096 votes)
3158 votes total Vote Now