If ever there were a year to be OK with whomever falls into the Philadelphia Eagles’ lap in the draft, it’s this one.
Why? Well, firstly, because the Eagles are the defending Super Bowl champions. (There’s something about winning it all that takes a little pressure off a couple roster moves in April.) But also because, even with the last pick in Thursday’s anticipated first round and the likelihood of a trade entirely out of the round, there’s a bevy of prospects — decent, plausible prospects — that figure to be available for and interest the Eagles.
With that said, it wouldn’t be draft week without another premature and pointless but oh-so-totally fun attempt to predict the unpredictable and forecast what Philly will do.
Here, I’ve played the role of Eagles general manager — er, vice president of football operations — and projected all seven rounds of the team’s 2018 draft according to both what I think will happen and what I would do if I were actually Howie Roseman:
First round (No. 32 overall): Traded to the Indianapolis Colts, along with LB Mychal Kendricks and a sixth-round pick (206), in exchange for a second-rounder (37), a fourth-rounder (104) and a fifth-rounder (140).
Looking to get into the Day Two mix or up the Eagles’ pick total from six, I’d try to do both by getting Chris Ballard on the line. If the Colts don’t land Tremaine Edmunds with their top-10 selection, they’ll be on the lookout for inside linebacker help, so I’d use a little “Frank Reich’s our old buddy!” small talk to offload a guy who can start immediately for them in Kendricks, drop just five spots and yet pick up two weekend selections.
The trade breaks down as follows, according to pick values on Draft Wire:
- Eagles get: 651.5 total points
- Colts get: 600.7 total points, plus Kendricks
Depending on how you value Kendricks, this deal benefits the Eagles a little more, but with the Colts owning nine picks, including three second-rounders, they have capital to spare.
Second round (37): CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville
The reality is Alexander could be long gone before even the Eagles’ original first pick, but the reality is also that any of the following corners could reasonably go in the draft’s first 35 selections: Denzel Ward, Josh Jackson, Mike Hughes, Isaiah Oliver, Carlton Davis, Donte Jackson. That means someone’s going to slide, and if it’s the Louisville stud, I wouldn’t have a problem adding to a position already topped by Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas.
Alexander is intriguing not only because he’s got the kind of toughness Jim Schwartz covets and blends ball skills with sticky cover instincts, but because he could very well be a utility man from day one — a guy who can play nickel and return punts right away, not to mention free up other corners for a potential move to safety.
Third round (98): RB Nyheim Hines, N.C. State
A more well-rounded back like Sony Michel or Derrius Guice would be exciting possibilities at No. 32 (or No. 37, in this scenario), but Hines is as close to a game-changing play-maker as you’ll get at the position. What he lacks in size (5-8, 197) he makes up for with crazy speed and return ability — the skills to be an immediate change-of-pace weapon.
Fourth round (104): Traded to the Houston Texans, along with a 2019 sixth-round pick, in exchange for a third-rounder (see above).
Fourth round (130): TE Chris Herndon, Miami
Barring anything unforeseen, Herndon won’t demand a first- or even second-round pick, but he’d be a high-upside project to help offset the loss of Trey Burton. Bigger and more raw than Burton, he’s got the receiving skills — especially in space — to develop as a future No. 2 behind Zach Ertz and Richard Rodgers.
Fourth round (132): LB Shaquem Griffin, Central Florida
The Eagles’ locker room is a home for good stories, so Griffin would fit right in. The one-handed combine sensation is pretty light, but his athleticism and versatility make him an enviable hybrid. Whether as a developmental outside linebacker, a quasi-safety or even a situational pass rusher, he’d be a nice toy for Schwartz.
Fifth round (140): OT Matt Pryor, TCU
The offensive line needs some prospects on the outside, and rather than target the ultra-raw, high-upside guys in the later rounds, I’d swing for someone relatively safe — an experienced starter who can challenge for a role right away considering Jason Peters’ age. Pryor needs to watch his weight, but he’s been a well-regarded RG and RT for a while.
Fifth round (169): WR Daurice Fountain, Northern Iowa
Mike Wallace probably won’t be around much longer than 2018, so the Eagles could stand to add some speed to their receiving corps even if Mack Hollins works out as a future starter. Fountain is no sure thing after just one year of big college production, but he can move as a former track star.
Sixth round (206): Traded to Indianapolis (see above).
Seventh round (250): LB Kenny Young, UCLA
With Griffin and free agent Corey Nelson in the mix to compete at linebacker, Young would make for a nice down-the-road project. His instincts haven’t been lauded, but he’s got the speed to become an immediate presence on special teams.
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