There are only 24 days until the 2018 NFL Draft begins on Thursday, April 26. Just three and a half weeks away! Until the big event gets here, we’re going to kill some time with our weekly Mock Draft Monday series. (For more mock draft madness, check out Saturday’s roundup.)
Dan Kadar had the Eagles selecting an offensive tackle at No. 32 overall in last week’s SB Nation mock. This week Dan has the Eagles going with a cornerback in the first round.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville — The Philadelphia secondary struggled some last season, including in the Super Bowl. Fortunately for them, this is a strong cornerback class, particularly in this range. Alexander may have only played in six games last season due to injury, but in 2016 looked like a top 20 lock.
We’ve already discussed how drafting an outside corner doesn’t make a ton of sense for the Eagles when they already have Ronald Darby, Sidney Jones, Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, and Daryl Worley on the roster.
But drafting someone to play as the nickel corner? There actually is some sense in that.
It’d be ideal if the Eagles already had a ready-made replacement for Patrick Robinson. And maybe they do feel like Mills, the obvious in-house candidate, can be that guy.
I do think the Eagles might feel like they can “get by” with Mills as their slot guy. But do they feel great about that proposition?
I’d say the evidence suggests they don’t. If the Eagles felt so good about Mills as the new nickel, why did they express serious interest in re-signing Robinson? And why have the Eagles been spending so much homework on slot corner types leading up to this year’s draft?
Philadelphia hasn’t explicitly expressed interest in Alexander (yet) but he fits the mold they’re potentially looking for. Scouting report from NFL.com:
Draft Projection: Rounds 1-2
NFL Comparison: Teez Tabor
Bottom Line: Twitchy and quick, Alexander is an instinctive cornerback with the ability to anticipate routes and the quickness to close on throws and make plays on the ball. He tape in 2017 was uneven due to issues with a sprained knee which could raise concerns over his durability considering his slender build. When healthy, he has the potential to become a second cornerback, but teams may view him as a full time nickel cornerback who is able to avoid the rigors of excessive run support.
Slot corner is arguably the biggest need on the Eagles’ roster. It’s a significant role in today’s passing league. For perspective, Robinson played 69% of the team’s defensive snaps last season. Not to mention 34% of the special teams snaps.
Punt returner is also a big need for Philly (especially if Darren Sproles doesn’t come back), and it just so happens Alexander can contribute in that capacity as well. Alexander scored one touchdown and averaged 9.9 yards per return on 43 tries in college.
The Eagles have recently shown interest in other slot corner/punt returner types in Mike Hughes and Tremon Smith. Both of those players are scheduled for pre-draft visits in Philadelphia. It’d make sense, then, that they could have some interest in Alexander.
Another thing to keep in mind is Jeffrey Lurie’s comments about how the Eagles can improve in 2018. He was quick to point out how Tom Brady shredded Philly’s pass defense in the Super Bowl. It wouldn’t seem like he’s opposed to his team addressing the secondary.
Alexander spider graph via Mockdraftable:
Alexander highlights video:
What do you think of this week’s pick?
Should the Eagles draft Jaire Alexander at No. 32?
This poll is closed