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Reading the NFL Draft Tea Leaves: Three rumors with impact on the Eagles

A Giant mistake?

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We are officially a week away from the 2018 NFL Draft. This, of course, means the intensity in which rumors and conflicting reports get spilled is only going to increase as we slog through these 7 days. Within that wave of news, fake news, conjecture, and so on, I came across a few nuggets that had implications for not only the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles, but also for a divisional rival with a franchise altering decision to make.

Jaire Alexander is CB2 and is going to go early…

As sated before, Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander is a top 10 player on both mine and Benjamin Solak’s big board, citing his 2016 tape as elite. The perceived dip in his stock in 2017 can be chalked up to playing nowhere near 100% health. While his ability to play as much as he did and be effective with those injuries is a check in the competitive toughness box, it does raise a flag in terms of durability.

In Daniel Jeremiah’s most recent mock draft, he had the chirpy corner going to the Pittsburgh Steelers at 28th overall. That was on April 17th, the quote cited is from April 18th. If the information he received is accurate and newer than his mock, you can start to look at cornerback needy teams in the teens as a landing spot for Alexander. These teams include the Washington Redskins (13th overall), Green Bay Packers (14th overall), Arizona Cardinals (15th overall), Seattle Seahawks (18th overall). I recently mocked Alexander to the Jacksonville Jaguars at 29th overall as an Aaron Colvin replacement.

It’s looking more and more like Alexander, who the Eagles have brought in for an official visit and fits the mold of what they’re looking for at nickel cornerback, may not be there when the Eagles are on the clock.

Derrius Guice is the best pure runner in the class…

It’s important to note that one scout does not a draft make. Put a half dozen evaluators in a room and you will get very different looking boards, but I will say this quote does not come as surprise. Several talent evaluators I know hold the same belief that LSU running back Derrius Guice is the best pure runner in the class.

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley’s receiving ability is what separates him from Guice for many and in my evaluation of the two backs Barkley scored much higher in that critical factor. While Barkley has a special ability to create when a play breaks down, he has a propensity to take unnecessary losses while passing up free yards, which is a statement you could rip straight from a Barry Sanders scouting report. Guice can seek contact too much, but his vision, decisiveness and finishing all graded higher.

What does this mean for the prospect of landing Guice at 32nd overall? It really doesn’t change much. As Dane Brugler of NFL Draft Scout pointed out on today’s Kist & Solak Show on BGN Radio, after the Washington Redskins at 13th overall and the Detroit Lions at 20th overall, it’s hard to find a fit for Guice until the Eagles are due to pick. The Eagles have shown an enormous amount of interest in Guice and the consensus is that he is their guy if he falls.

Saquon Barkley goes to New York…

ESPN’s Todd McShay added fuel to the Barkley/Giants fire with some “inside” information on how the organization sees their options at the 2nd overall selection:

“If you’re committed to the run game, and that’s what you want to be as an organization then it makes sense… What is your emphasis? If you’re trying to throw the ball around and you’re gonna go 60-40, 70-30 pass to run then I don’t know if that makes sense.

But if the Giants want to be a run-first team, and that’s what I’m told the emphasis is, then Barkley makes all the sense in the world because the talent is there.

Ultimately I’ve heard Sam Darnold is the only quarterback they would consider taking at number 2, and then I’ve heard really strongly that there are important people in that building that believe in Saquon Barkley.” - Todd McShay

There’s a lot to unpack here. First, the fact that the Giants are only comfortable taking USC quarterback Sam Darnold at two if they wanted to take Eli Manning’s heir apparent. Second, that trading down mentioned in the conversation. It is of note that new general manager Dave Gettleman has never traded down in the first round and that he selected Christian McCaffrey at 8th overall to the Carolina Panthers in the 2017 NFL Draft.

“The Giants want to be a run-first physical football team and that Saquon can basically be the face of that franchise moving forward several years… It just feels to me like it’s inevitable Saquon Barkley is going to be a New York Giant.” - Todd McShay

I happened to be listening to Rotoworld Football with Josh Norris while transcribing this quote. In regard to the “run-first physical” aspect of McShay’s quote, Norris’ guest Dane Brugler dropped a note about Barkley’s run style.

“He’s 233 pounds but he’s closer to Christian McCaffrey than Leonard Fournette.” - Dane Brugler

The panel of Norris, Ben Fennell, and Ted Nguyen all agreed with this statement. If the Giants are to become a power team, they’re going to have to achieve that by building their offensive line in that image.

They are far from that at this point and it’s my opinion that if they don’t feel comfortable taking the available quarterbacks, that they should trade down. Otherwise, the only way Barkley works behind that swiss cheese line is if he fulfills the prophecy of him becoming the next Barry Sanders. He very well may, as he certainly possesses the play-making ability to create home runs on his own. If he doesn’t, the Giants are screwed.

Being stuck with an aging quarterback that has played like a bottom half starter in recent years and missing out on multiple first and/or second round picks that would allow them to fill out their roster and possibly include ammo to move up for a quarterback in 2019 is a recipe for disaster. One I hope we see come to fruition on April 26th.

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