ESPN put together a list of three draft targets for all 32 teams leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft. This isn’t a mock draft projection as much as it is a suggestion for a player for the team to target in each of the first three rounds. Here’s who they suggested for the Eagles, via In$ider.
Day 1 (pick No. 14): Reuben Foster, MLB, Alabama
Foster is a top-10 player in this draft, but getting sent home form the combine hasn't helped his cause, and character concerns could cause him to slip to the Eagles at No. 14. He projects as a day-one starter who would bolster a Philadelphia run defense that ranked 17th in rushing yards allowed per carry, and he doesn't have to come off the field on third down.
Pretty surprising to see that this suggestion wasn’t a cornerback (Gareon Conley) or running back (Christian McCaffrey) since that’s who all the mocks have the Eagles taking. I’d like this pick for the Eagles, though. I picked Foster for Philadelphia in the 2017 SB Nation NFL Writers Mock Draft.
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.
The combination of Hicks and Foster playing together is fun to think about. Those are two bad dudes (in a good way).
I don’t think the pick is necessarily realistic because I question whether the Eagles value a WILL linebacker enough to take one at No. 14. And though I’m all about drafting the best player available, I can’t lie; not getting a player at a position of need in the first would be at least a little disappointing.
That said, I’d still take Foster if he’s clearly head and shoulders better than everyone else available at No. 14.
Day 2: Adoree' Jackson, DC, USC
The Eagles could be in the market for two cornerbacks who are capable of competing for starting roles, and Jackson would be a good value if they can get him at pick No. 43. While he lacks ideal size and his footwork is inconsistent, Jackson is a playmaker with the tools to develop outstanding cover skills. He also has a dangerous return game, which is important because Darren Sproles turns 34 in June and Kenjon Barner signed a one-year deal with the Chargers.
There’s been a lot of buzz about Jackson lately. The USC prospect is set to visit Philadelphia for an official pre-draft visit. One BGN reader also astutely noted Jackson’s physical profile and attitude fits what defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz likes in his cornerbacks. In this sense, he could be a good fit for the Eagles.
Some have expressed concerned about Jackson’s lack of polish and question the Eagles’ ability to develop him. Given Philadelphia’s lack of success with the cornerback position, it’s hard to blame them.
Still, I like the idea of Jackson as a second round selection. He’s athletic and he has good ball skills. And even if he totally busts at corner, which hopefully isn’t the case, at least the Eagles will have a good returner. That’s an area of need, too, with Josh Huff gone and Darren Sproles set to retire after this season. Perhaps the Eagles could even give Jackson some offensive snaps if he busts on defense.
Day 3: Jeremy McNichols, RB, Boise State
The Eagles need a back who can push for early playing time, and McNichols could prove to be a Day 3 steal if he checks out medically and improves his ball security. He's an instinctive, between-the-tackles runner with the burst to turn the corner when he runs outside. McNichols has the potential to develop into a dangerous receiver out of the backfield.
Here’s a player who hasn’t really been linked to the Eagles a lot.
The 21-year-old McNichols projects as an early Day 3 pick. He measures in at 5-9, 214 pounds. McNichols finished his career at Boise State with 571 rushing attempts for 3,205 yards (5.6 average) and 44 touchdowns. He also had 103 receptions for 1,089 yards (10.6 average) and 11 receiving scores. That’s some very, very good production. He also fumbled eight times, however.
McNichols' tough running style despite his size is very similar to Devonta Freeman. Freeman did not have a great combine and he is definitely among the smaller backs in the NFL, but his toughness and dependability has translated to over 2000 yards and 22 touchdowns in the last two seasons and he is a huge part of the Falcons' Super Bowl offense. Both have excellent toughness, a hard running style and enough wiggle to make a difference and all of that helps them be very productive and dependable.
NFL teams are stubborn, unfortunately, and love sticking to certain measurements at various positions. A lot of teams will be concerned that McNichols is a bit smaller, so here's hoping a smart team sees what he can be for them. For the Eagles, he would be a great fit in the offense considering his vision, tough running style and third down ability. In terms of value, he is not a guy you take relatively high because he will need a strong complement in any offense, but for the Eagles, or any team, he would be an excellent value in the middle rounds. He may not be among the very best backs in this class, but give this guy 250 carries in an offense and he will help your team win.
Click here for full game tape via Draft Breakdown. Here’s a look at his highlight video.
Jeremy McNichols spider graph:
So what do you think of these suggestions?