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NFL Mock Draft 2018: ESPN Mel Kiper 2.0 Edition

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Who should the Eagles pick at No. 32?

NCAA Football: New Mexico at Texas A&M C. Morgan Engel-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper is back with another 2018 NFL mock draft. He released his Version 1.0 back before the Philadelphia Eagles won the NFC Championship Game. Now it’s time for his first mock since the Eagles won the Super Bowl. Here’s Version 2.0, via In$ider:

Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

The Super Bowl champs are built to contend for years to come, and they don’t have many immediate needs. I thought about tackle here, as veteran left tackle Jason Peters is coming off a torn ACL and MCL. But former fifth-round pick Halapoulivaati Vaitai showed promise down the stretch, and the offensive line as a whole played really well in the playoffs. The Eagles might part ways with Torrey Smith this offseason, which means a receiver at the end of the first round makes sense. At 5-11, Kirk isn’t a big target, but he can be a weapon in the slot and in the return game. UCLA’s Jordan Lasley is a receiver who could rise into the Day 1 discussion, too.

Kirk finished his three years at Texas A&M with 229 receptions for 2,796 receiving yards (12.2 yards per reception) and 26 receiving touchdowns. He also had 21 rushing attempts for 121 rushing yards. As a kick returner, Kirk had 44 attempts for a 21.3 average and one touchdown. He was more dangerous as a punt returner with 37 tries for a 22.0 average and six scores.

Highlights video below:

Scouting report via NFL.com:

Draft Projection: Rounds 2-3

NFL Comparison: Pharoh Cooper

Bottom Line: Kirk is a well-built, mentally tough slot target whose game is built around pace more than explosiveness. His lack of speed and length make him less likely to impact games down the field, but his footwork, route tempo and hands should give him an opportunity to find catches underneath. Kirk’s ability to help in the return game is a plus, but the difference between average and good as a receiver could depend on finding the right fit.

The Eagles could definitely afford to draft a receiver with Torrey Smith likely gone. They also need a better returner. But I’m not sure so about Kiper’s pick here. Given Nelson Agholor’s previous struggles playing on the outside and his success in the slot, he should be kept on the inside. And doing that doesn’t leave a role for Kirk. The Eagles need to add an outside receiver who offers deep threat speed.

Here’s another thing to keep in mind about first round wide receivers:

Kiper’s mock has the Eagles passing on top offensive tackle prospects Mike McGlinchey (Mike Mayock’s No. 1 overall OT), Connor Williams (Mayock’s No. 3 overall OT), Tyrell Crosby (Mayock’s No. 4 overall OT), and Martinas Rankin (Mayock’s T-5 No 5 overall OT). I can’t see the Eagles, who prioritize building through the trenches, taking a slot receiver over a quality tackle at No. 32.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai did show some positive flashes, yes, but he did have his fair share of struggles in 2017. Big V shouldn’t be treated as a player the Eagles can’t upgrade on. The Eagles have a need at offensive tackle considering Jason Peters is 36 years old and Lane Johnson is one failed drug test away from being suspended for two years. Even if you think Big V is great, it would not hurt to have four good tackles.

What do you think of Kiper’s pick?

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