clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NFL Draft 2017: Ranking the top 10 options for the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round

New, comments

Here's who the Eagles should take.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last month, I've ranked the running backs, wide receivers, and cornerbacks based on their fit with the Eagles scheme. Now for a bit of fun, I'm going to basically make my own Eagles draft board for pick 14 based on everyone I've been able to watch. I've been really busy of late so haven't been able to watch a lot of positions but I've tried to look at players I think the Eagles will consider at pick 14 or players they could trade up for. Unlike my other lists, this will take into consideration off the field and injury problems. I'm obviously not a doctor and the Eagles will know a lot more than me, but there's still loads of information out there.

Now, before you look at the list please read this or you will be very confused! I am not including these 5 players in my list: Myles Garrett, Jonathan Allen, Solomon Thomas, Jamal Adams or Malik Hooker. One reason is I highly doubt they will be there at pick 14 and I also haven't had time to watch them. To be honest, I really don't want a safety at 14, if they are 'that' good why would they not go before our pick? But anyway, I haven't watched them so I can't really comment on them as players. If Thomas or Allen fell to us, based on what I've read about them I would run to the podium. I'm not including them here though because I haven't been able to watch them and I wanted to focus on more realistic options. Also, keep in mind I am hoping at least one quarterback is drafted before the Eagles pick, that will mean they won't have to consider the players ranked at the bottom here.

Lastly, I totally get the concept of BPA but I don't think it's entirely realistic. So this list isn't entirely based on best player available, it will also consider the Eagles needs. I've already spoken a lot about most of these players strengths and weaknesses so I won't repeat everything I've already said and instead will explain why I have them ranked there.

1. Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State: There are concerns about Lattimore's lack of experience playing the cornerback position, but I think he's going to be a stud. He has an exceptional combination of size, speed, and athleticism and has the potential to develop into a number 1 cornerback. He also has incredible ball skills and tracks the football so well when it's in the air, something Eagles cornerbacks have struggled with for a while. I think it's possible that Lattimore could fall in the draft and I wouldn't be surprised if the Eagles tried to trade up in front of the Saints to take Lattimore considering they have a huge need at cornerback.

2. Corey Davis, WMU: You can never have too many weapons in the NFL. Alshon Jeffery is a stud but that doesn't mean you can't take Corey Davis if he somehow falls to pick 14. I think it's possible he falls because of his recent injury and NFL teams do put a lot of value in a players combine and pro-day workout. Davis would fit perfectly in this offense, he can get yards after the catch on the underneath stuff which is so important in a west coast offense and he can also take the top off a defense. He can also play in the slot and a wide receiver trio of Jeffery, Smith, and Davis would give the Eagles three big receivers who can also get down the field.

3. Gareon Conley, Ohio State: I think it's possible Conley goes before Lattimore based on the latest buzz. Conley is technically excellent and he showed the ability to man up with receivers in the slot and on the outside which is really important if you want to be a shutdown cornerback in the NFL today. Conley has excellent awareness in zone coverage which is important when playing in Jim Schwartz' defense. I was tempted to put Conley above Davis because I'm a huge fan of his game, but I decided that Davis would just be too good to pass up.

4. Christian McCaffrey, Stanford: If any of you follow me on twitter, you know I absolutely love this guy. I can understand why some people don't want to take a running back in the first round but with McCaffrey you aren't just getting a running back. McCaffrey could start as a slot receiver if he wanted because he's that good of a route runner. You can play McCaffrey at running back for 65% of the snaps and give him 12-15 carries and then put him in the slot for 35% of the snaps and target him 4-6 times a game. He will rarely have to leave the field and he would be an absolutely perfect fit here. I don't expect McCaffrey to fall to 14 though. There's isn't much of a gap between Lattimore and McCaffrey to be honest in my rankings, I would be so happy with any of my top 4 at pick 14.

5. Charles Harris, Missouri: I've been watching some of the EDGE guys the Eagles have been linked to recently and have tried not to convince myself that I like them just because the Eagles could draft them. I honestly really like Harris, especially as a fit in this defense. Let me explain this pick because I know it will be unpopular. In this defense, pass rushing is far more valuable than run stopping and Harris can rush the quarterback extremely well. Also, in a wide-9 alignment setting the edge is easier for defensive ends as they already have outside leverage on the offensive tackles. Harris' run defense has been heavily criticized but I think it's important to note that he aligns inside the tackle a lot of the time and that isn't how he is going to be used here.

Harris is an explosive pass rusher who wins with an incredible burst off the line of scrimmage and an even better spin move. I know Harris tested poorly at the combine which is a concern but he apparently looked a lot better at his pro day which is great to hear and that matches with his film more than his combine score. I personally wanted Vinny Curry to be given a chance to start, but it just seems like the Eagles coaching staff don't feel that way and they see him in practice every day. If the Eagles decide they need to improve the pass rush, Harris makes so much sense. In year 1 he doesn't need to play on early downs but he can still be an extremely good 3rd down pass rusher while he improves against the run. I did not want a defensive end a few weeks ago but I've changed my mind completely since watching Harris, I would be happy if he is the pick.

6. Mike Williams, Clemson: This is where I would start to consider trading down if a team below offered something big. I do really like Williams though and even though his skill set is similar to Alshon Jeffery's, the two of them can definitely work together, just think of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery in Chicago a few years ago. Williams understands how to get open on the sideline by using his body and he fits well with a quarterback like Carson Wentz who has the arm strength to throw outside the numbers and is willing to give his receiver a chance to make a play. Having Williams and Jeffery on the outside would be a lot of fun and it would also give the Eagles some protection if the Jeffery deal doesn't work out because he gets injured or has problems off the field.

7. Marlon Humphrey, Alabama: I love this guy because I really believe he can change the attitude of the whole defense. Humprey is the most physical cornerback prospect I've seen in a long time and I love how he plays the game. Yes, his ball skills are not great and it's questionable how much he can improve this but I believe in this scheme it isn't as big of a problem. The Eagles can play a lot of zone coverage so Humphrey has his eyes on the quarterback. I think Jim Schwartz will love this guy as much as I do and he's a player that you want on your defense. When the playoffs roll around, I would rather have Humphrey on my defense rather than be going up against him.  Humphrey isn't just nasty though, he's also extremely athletic and at only 20 years old he has the ability to be a top cornerback.

8. Leonard Fournette, LSU: Right, this is where it's hard to project what the Eagles really want in a player based off one year film. Fournette is an incredible talent but I don't think he's a great scheme fit here. If he somehow fell to the Eagles and the Eagles were willing to slightly alter their scheme, I would love it if we picked Fournette. But, he doesn't give you much out of the backfield (which seems a big deal to Pederson) and the Eagles also ran outside a ton last year and didn't run from under center as much as a lot of other teams. Fournette is better when he's running downhill from under centre as he's a below average shotgun runner. I don't think he's a terrible scheme fit here but I think he would reach his potential better in an offense that is willing to make him the focal point of the offense and run the offense through him. If you want to take the pressure off of Carson Wentz and make this a run-heavy offense, then Fournette makes a lot of sense. If the Eagles actually made this pick, I would be excited because I would trust them to alter the scheme to accommodate someone like Fournette who is a rare talent.

9. OJ Howard, Alabama: I'm on team trade down at this point. OJ Howard is a fantastic prospect but I just do not believe the Eagles want to run a 2TE offense. If you aren't committed to running a 2TE offense then taking a tight end at 14 is a huge waste of resources because he will either be a part-time player or make Zach Ertz a part time player. Yes, both of them can line up in the slot, but on 3rd and long I want an actual wide receiver to line up and beat man coverage and not Ertz or Howard. I might be totally wrong and maybe the Eagles are willing to run a lot of 2TE sets but I just don't see it. When Jordan Matthews was healthy last year, the Eagles ran 3WR sets the majority of the time (despite having literally no good wide receivers and 2 good TEs) and I expect it to be a similar story this year. In the modern day NFL, you don't see NFL teams pass out of 2-1 personnel on 3rd down. If you are going to run a lot of 2TE sets you need a RB who can carry the load too and the Eagles don't currently have that guy. I get why people like Howard, I just don't want him personally based on what I think the Eagles want to do on offense but I could be completely wrong.

10. Tre'Davious White: I really like White as a prospect I just question his upside and whether he can ever be an number 1 cornerback. I think he's a really safe prospect as technically he is excellent and he has great ball skills. I would be fine if we traded down at took White, but taking him at 14 would be a little disappointing. He didn't test great at the combine and I think he's being slightly overlooked because there are so many great athletes at cornerback this year but his tape is really good. White can cover outside and in the slot which is important, and considering the Eagles history of developing cornerbacks recently taking one of the safest cornerbacks in the draft might not be a terrible idea.

Final Thoughts

So I know you are all wondering, where is John Ross? Reuben Foster? So let me really quickly explain why I don't have some well-known players in my top 10.

John Ross: The injuries just scare me too much. He's torn his ACL, his meniscus twice in both his knees and has also had microfracture surgery and recently had shoulder surgery post-combine. I can't take a wide receiver who plays like Ross does at 14 with that injury history. I think we all forget how important injury concerns are to teams because we can't see it on tape obviously. Injuries can ruin someone's career no matter how talented (Ryan Mathews is a great example) but can also ruin NFL teams seasons because sometimes you can't replace someone's role in an offense. Mike Mayock recently said that Ross isn't even on some teams draft boards because of his injuries.

Reuben Foster: So Foster's tape is excellent. I don't think it's as elite as some people make it out to be, but it is very, very good. But, Foster also has serious shoulder concerns and off the field issues. I heard Lance Zierlein recently say that teams are concerned that Foster's shoulder is so bad that he won't last long in the NFL. Considering linebacker isn't a huge need for the Eagles, I don't want a guy at 14 who has a bad shoulder, failed a drugs test and got sent home from the combine.

Derek Barnett: The production is outstanding but I'm not convinced it translates. He wins with incredible snap anticipation and great bend but not with explosion off the line of scrimmage (like Charles Harris does) and he also doesn't have a great counter move (like Charles Harris does). I'm not sure Harris > Barnett will be a popular take, but I really believe Harris will be a better pass rusher in the NFL. Barnett's lack of explosion and his inability to win within the first 3 steps concerns me a lot and I would be a bit worried if he's the pick at 14. I do believe he will be a good player, I'm just not sure how good.

Kevin King: The athleticism is off the charts, but I didn't love his tape and I wouldn't reach for him over better prospects personally. His upside is sky high though and I'm sure I could convince myself into the pick by watching his combine performance over and over.

Dalvin Cook: The film is excellent, but he tested awfully at the combine, fumbled way too much and has off the field concerns apparently. Lance Zierlein also said that teams are very concerned that Dalvin Cook won't handle being a pro very well and teams are concerned how he will spend his time when he has more money and free time. Considering everything, I would pass on Cook at 14.

Joe Mixon: I had Mixon as my number 1 running back and I still believe that, but I don't think any team will consider him in the top 20 of the first round.