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NFL Mock Draft Roundup 2018: Offensive tackle is the early popular pick for the Eagles

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Who will the Birds take?

NCAA Football: Cactus Bowl-Kansas State vs UCLA Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 NFL Draft will be here before you know it. Mock draft season has already begun and there’s no shortage of opinion as to whom the Philadelphia Eagles might select with the No. 32 overall pick. Let’s take a look at which players the experts have the Eagles taking this week.

FanSpeak (Custom) - Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

Safety depth is an underrated need for the Eagles. Philadelphia had a third safety play at least 40% of their defensive snaps in 2017. Corey Graham is set to be a free agent and Jaylen Watkins reportedly won’t received a restricted free agent tender. That leaves Chris Maragos and Tre Sullivan as the only two backups under contract. Maragos is a good special teams player but he’s not an ideal option as a defender. Sullivan showed some promise last summer. Maybe he’ll turn out to be something. Still, you can’t fully count on that. Harrison could start his career as a role-player and eventually take over for Malcolm Jenkins, who turns 31 this season, or Rodney McLeod, who can be cut after the 2018 season for a savings of $5 million.

SB Nation (Dan Kadar) - Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma

The Eagles could lose two of their tight ends this offseason, and Andrews could fit into the Super Bowl champions’ roster straight away. South Dakota State’s Dallas Goedert would be a little bit redundant with Zach Ertz, while Andrews offers a more well-rounded game.

ESPN (Mel Kiper) - 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.

Bleacher Report (Mike Tanier) - Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech

Settle is a 330-pounder who can move. He battled conditioning issues at Virginia Tech, but the Eagles will only need him for a 30-snap rotation role in the short term, and Cox and Jernigan (and line coach Phillip Daniels and others in the tight-knit Eagles organization) will keep Settle from getting carried away with second helpings. Speedy, undersized South Carolina State linebacker Darius Leonard could also fit here, as the Eagles grab best available athletes and compensate for the likely loss of Nigel Bradham. Georgia running back Sony Michel could replace LeGarrette Blount. Dallas Goedert could team up with Zach Ertz for a team that loves two-tight-end attacks but may lose Trey Burton to free agency and Brett Celek to retirement.

NDT Scouting (Jon Ledyard) - Ronald Jones, RB, USC

With Michel off the board, Jones becomes my top available running back and he just so happens to be a perfect fit for Philly. The Eagles really don’t have any needs, which is a good thing because they don’t pick again for about 100 slots. The team stands to lose LeGarrette blount and Darren Sproles in free agency, and Jay Ajayi has had injury concerns and is in the final year of his contract. Jones is a more explosive runner and projects to be a better receiver, and imagining him in Doug Pederson’s offense is enough to get you giddy.

NFL.com (Charles Davis) - Donte Jackson, CB, LSU

The Eagles’ secondary did an excellent job at tackling -- and not permitting big runs after the catch -- last season. Jackson adds his talents to the mix, and he can play inside, as well.

CBS Sports (Will Brinson) - James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

The Eagles could end up losing Torrey Smith in free agency and if they do, they need to find another weapon to take the top off opposing defenses.

CBS Sports (Chris Trapasso) - Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

Miller is tall, long, and athletic tackle who blocked well for Rosen at UCLA. He really came into his own in 2017 and with more strength can be the heir apparent to Jason Peters.

CBS Sports (Ryan Wilson) - Ronald Jones, RB, USC

With LeGarrette Blount and Darren Sproles headed for free agency, Jones would add some much-needed depth. That said, Jay Ajayi and Super Bowl hero Corey Clement return (along with Wendell Smallwood) but as Blount proved in 2017, you can never have too many talented backs in a game where injuries can derail a season.

DraftTek (Broz) - Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

The Eagles head into the 2018 draft in the enviable position of not having blatant holes to fill. The biggest “need” at the moment is probably at Linebacker. Usually, 4-3 linebackers aren’t too difficult (or expensive) to acquire in Free Agency (see Nigel Bradham), so unless a Top-10 type guy falls to them, expect their 30-year run of no RD1 LBs to continue. If the team does go defense in RD1, it will probably be to bolster Jim Schwartz’s stable of pass rushers. If they choose an offensive player in RD1, it will either be a speedy WR to replace Torrey Smith (who can run like a gazelle, but who catches footballs like a gazelle), or a versatile O-Lineman than can play Tackle. The Eagles should plan their team assuming Jason Peters does not return (if he does, it’s a bonus). Big V may or may not be the long-term solution at left tackle. At the very least, the Eagles need to give him some competition and build depth, as the players behind the starters are not good. Pro Football Focus ranked 121 qualifying offensive tackles from the 2017 college football season in PBE (for all the non-dorks, that’s Pass-Blocking Efficiency). UCLA’s Kolton Miller was 10th on that list. He is a long tackle (6’8”, 310 lbs), with good knee bend, good athletic ability, and great break dancing moves. He took a while to find his groove in 2017, but once he did, he played as well as any tackle in the nation. Prediction: after the Combine, the “experts” will start mentioning him as a Top-10 prospect. Prediction #2: If he has a bad Combine, I will erase any trace of evidence that I ever made Prediction #1, and be all “Kolton who ?”

Sports Illustrated (Albert Breer) - Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

Jason Peters is 36 and expensive, and the Eagles have shown steadfastly that they want to keep Lane Johnson on the right side. So they get a year ahead on left tackle by plucking Miller here.

DraftWire (Luke Easterling) - Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Protecting Carson Wentz should obviously be the Super Bowl champs’ top priority. With Jason Peters aging and coming off a serious injury of his own, Philly has to target his replacement early in this draft. McGlinchey is as polished as any tackle in this class, with plenty of starting experience on both sides.


SUMMARY

OT Kolton Miller - 3
RB Ronald Jones - 2
OT Mike McGlinchey - 1
DT Tim Settle - 1
S Ronnie Harrison - 1
TE Mark Andrews - 1
WR James Washington - 1
WR Christian Kirk - 1
CB Donte Jackson - 1

OT - 4
RB - 2
WR - 2
DT - 1
S - 1
TE - 1
CB - 1

Offense - 9
Defense - 3

THOUGHTS

  • The 2018 NFL Combine is set to take place this week. It’ll be interesting to see how the results impact pre-draft buzz. We might start to hear some rumors about who the Eagles do/don’t like.
  • Offensive tackle is the most popular pick for the Eagles this week. I could definitely see the Birds going that direction with No. 32.
  • I think safety is the dark horse option for the Eagles at the end of the first round.
  • I can’t see the Eagles drafting a cornerback on Day 1 unless some obvious stud inexplicably falls to them.
  • Who is your favorite for No. 32?