The 2019 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. 25 overall pick. Let’s take a look at which players the experts have the Eagles taking this week.
FanSpeak (Custom) - Jachai Polite, DE, Florida
Defensive end is an obvious need with Brandon Graham and Chris Long potentially not returning to the Eagles in 2019. Polite was also the best player available on the board in this situation. Add in Howie Roseman’s #GatorBias and that checks all the boxes. The 20-year-old Polite finished his junior season with 45 total tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, six (!) forced fumbles, and four pass deflections. The Eagles’ defensive end rotation could look something like this in 2019: Derek Barnett, Michael Bennett, Josh Sweat, and Polite.
Bleeding Green Nation (Ben Natan) - Jachai Polite, DE, Florida
The Eagles could go in many directions here, but any time you can add a speedy edge rusher; you gotta do it. Brandon Graham is likely on the outs as a free agent, Derek Barnett is returning from injury and the team will need someone to rotate in with Michael Bennett at defensive end. Polite has sky high potential and instant impact ability. The Eagles might entertain getting a cornerback here, but with Polite on the board they should sprint to the podium.
SB Nation (Dan Kadar) - Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
Maybe this is too reactionary, but the Sunday’s playoff loss to the Saints showed that the Eagles need a true lead running back. Don’t forget that Jay Ajayi, who tore his ACL this season, is a free agent. If there’s a first-round back in the 2019 draft, it is Jacobs.
The Draft Network (Benjamin Solak) - Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
The storybook run of Philadelphia back through the playoffs was truly something to behold — but like all good things, it finally came to an end. And when it did, we noticed that, while DT Timmy Jernigan came back from a back injury to start meaningful reps, his quality of play decreased. His contract now non-guaranteed due to the non-football injury, and the depth behind him laughable, Jim Schwartz will look to add pass-rush juice with Wilkins, a 3-tech next to Fletcher Cox and a 1-tech stopgap when Cox isn’t on the field. In 2019, Philadelphia can now rush Cox, Wilkins, Michael Bennett, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, and Brandon Graham if he’s retained. That’s a whole lotta oomph.
ESPN (Mel Kiper) - Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
With free agents Brandon Graham and Chris Long potentially moving on, Philadelphia could add some pass-rush help here. At 6-foot-6, 241 pounds, Sweat is a rangy prospect who is athletically gifted. And he produced, racking up 22 sacks the past two seasons. Receiver is also a position to watch, as Golden Tate and Mike Wallace are both on the free-agent market.
NFL.com (Daniel Jeremiah) - Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
This would be the steal of the draft for the Eagles. Wilkins is a top-10 talent.
PhillyVoice (Jimmy Kempski) - Jachai Polite, DE, Florida
Polite had a breakout season for the Gators in 2018 with 45 tackles (19.5 for loss), 11 sacks, and best of all, 6 forced fumbles. He is one of the funnest prospects in this draft to watch, because of his combination of speed, pass rush feel, and relentlessness. Polite is a game-changing playmaker, and in any other draft, I would say there’s no way he could possibly make it to pick No. 25. However, in a draft that Howie Roseman called “historic” for it’s overabundance of defensive line prospects... maybe? I do also think that a trade up for a high-level, immediately-contributing defensive lineman prospect is possible, as the Eagles potentially have some outgoing pass rushers this offseason: Brandon Graham will be a free agent, and he is going to test the market. Michael Bennett was a good player in 2018, and he’ll be under contract in 2019 at a reasonable cost of $7 million, but he’s 33. Chris Long is also under contract, but he’ll be 34 in March, and he almost retired last year. Beyond that trio, the only defensive end on the roster with any legitimate NFL production is Derek Barnett. A defensive end in the first round is, in my opinion, by far the most likely position to be addressed. If there’s any concern with Polite, it’s that he’s undersized, at 6-foot-2, 242 pounds. If bigger offensive tackles get a hold of him, they can drive him back in the run game. That said, he plays with a violent, nasty demeanor, and is far from passive as a run defender. He’ll make his share of plays for loss, which is what Jim Schwartz prioritizes.
CBS Sports (Chris Trapasso) - Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
The Eagles’ safety group could use a youthful member. Thompson wasn’t a consistent play-maker for the Crimson Tide in 2018 ... but he’s very rangy and equally as impactful stopping the run as he is in coverage.
CBS Sports (Ryan Wilson): Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
Adderley made a name for himself over the final months of the season and the FCS standout could find himself among the first 32 players taken. He’ll have a chance to prove himself at the Senior Bowl and the biggest question might be his size -- is he big enough to play safety over the course of an NFL season -- because every other aspect of his game checks all the boxes of what teams look for in a defensive back.
Pro Football Focus (Steve Palazzolo) - Kelvin Harmon, WR, NC State
Harmon has the physicality to win at the catch point and over the middle, adding another outside weapon to the Eagles offense. He graded at 83.3 overall last season while winning 17 of his 30 contested catch opportunities.
Bleacher Report (Matt Miller) - Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
The Philadelphia Eagles secondary is much better than most would assume given the lack of huge names on the depth chart, but there is still a need for cornerback upgrades and depth, as seen in the divisional round loss to the New Orleans Saints. Washington’s Byron Murphy is only around 5’11”, but he’s a feisty cover man with excellent instincts and closing speed. He showed off his ball skills all season for the Huskies and was a thorn in the side of Pac-12 quarterbacks. Some scouts might see Murphy as a slot cornerback, and that’s a possible destination for him in Philadelphia. But no matter where he’s lining up, he has the skills to make a major impact immediately.
DraftTek (Broz) - Kelvin Harmon, WR, NC State
Well, “The Magic Run” is over, Philly fans. Many Eagles’ faithful have moved to the stage of grief where they can accept this loss, and appreciate the good memories. Not me. My throat is still sore from screaming at the TV during the final drive, hoping Doug Pederson would hear me telling him there’s no need to rush or panic...that with a mere 27 yards to go, with two full minutes remaining, and time outs in your pocket, you could take your time, milk the clock, and get the winning TD with 20 seconds left. CERTAINLY there was no need to spaz out and inexplicably try to squeeze ONE MORE PLAY in before the two-minute warning when there was an eternity of time left and NO NEED to increase the chance of a mistake by rushing a play off when... OK wait: Serenity Now. As I was saying, the 2019 Eagles’ season has officially begun. There will be a lot of personnel decisions that will be made in the coming months. With OT Jason Peters likely retiring, the Achilles injury to OG Brandon Brooks, and even C Jason Kelce mentioning retirement...what will this O-Line look like next year? The D-Line, with the uncertain futures of Brandon Graham and Michael Bennett, has its own question marks. Multiple running backs may be needed. And, with all due respect to Nelson Agholor and Golden Tate, a field-stretching WR is also needed. The Eagles were a middling 16th in splash pass plays (20+ YDS) in 2018, and that needs to improve. Wolfpack WR Kelvin Harmon may not be a true burner, however he is very effective at all levels of the route tree. Coaches will love his attitude, work ethic, and the mean streak he brings to the table when blocking for the run. Harmon may not be the true complementary speedster the Eagles need right now, but he could be a legit #1 WR when Alshon Jeffery’s days are over in Philly. Plus, he’s just REALLY good at football.
USA Today (Nate Davis) - DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia
Imagine how poorly a 30th-ranked pass defense would have fared without a capable line to mask its shortcomings. Dropping in the Jim Thorpe Award winner would be a step in the right direction.
Sporting News (Vinnie Iyer) - David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State
Montgomery (5-11, 216 pounds) has emerged as a strong prospect because he finishes run strong and has shown some good hands and wiggle as a receiver. The Eagles have been a committee team under Doug Pederson, but injuries and ineffectiveness should make them consider one back who can do it all and complement Carson Wentz on every down.
Cover1 (Jordan Reid) - Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia
There’s no question that the secondary needs some help, but there are a few promising pieces already in place that could turn into better players with a bit more patience and another season of development. The offensive tackle situation needs somewhat of a makeover. Jason Peters has been a staple of the front for nearly a decade, but injuries seem to slowly be taking a toll on his body. It’s unclear if the team will part ways with him this offseason, but an heir apparent needs to be in place due to his injury history. Cajuste is a very solid option to fill that void.
DraftWire (Luke Easterling) - Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia
Protecting Carson Wentz has to be Philly’s primary objective, and finding a long-term replacement for Jason Peters should be a huge part of that. Cajuste is still smoothing out the rough edges in his game, but he’s got all the talent to be a stud blocker in the NFL.
NFL Draft Countdown (Scott Wright) - Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State
It was a nightmare season for the Eagles secondary, with injuries and lackluster play equating to one of the leagues worst pass defenses. Needless to say that is not a good place to be in this pass-heavy age, so those issues on the backend must be resolved. Any plan to do that will likely include the addition of at least one high-quality cornerback or safety to the mix. Abram is a big, physical, aggressive safety with superb instincts who is at his best playing downhill, whether it’s against the run or even as a blitzer. Despite being an explosive athlete with decent ball skills who runs relatively well, Abram has some struggles in coverage but to his credit has made strides in this area. Abram also earns positive reviews for his intangibles such as toughness and leadership, showing the ability to anchor a secondary.
DE Jachai Polite - 3
DT Christian Wilkins - 2
OT Yodny Cajuste - 2
WR Kelvin Harmon - 2
S Deionte Thompson - 1
S Johnathan Abram - 1
S Nasir Adderley - 1
RB David Montgomery - 1
RB Josh Jacobs - 1
CB DeAndre Baker - 1
CB Byron Murphy - 1
DE Montez Sweat - 1
DE - 4
S - 3
DT - 2
OT - 2
RB - 2
CB - 2
WR - 2
Offense - 6
Defense - 11
- We’re going to see a ton of mock drafts that have the Eagles taking defensive linemen this offseason. It’s a big need and the 2019 NFL Draft class is loaded with DL talent.
- There’s a good chance Polite and/or Wilkins don’t even fall to the Eagles. Philly might luck out on the DL class being so deep, however, that someone unexpected falls in their laps at No. 25. Both of those players would be great additions to this defense.
- Getting Cajuste would make me feel better about the Eagles’ offensive tackle situation. I really don’t love the idea of Halapoulivaati Vaitai entering the 2019 season as the undisputed starting left tackle if Jason Peters isn’t back. (Click here to read more about Cajuste).
- I don’t really expect the Eagles to go with a wide receiver but maybe that changes depending on what happens with Nelson Agholor ($9.4 million cap hit in 2019, zero guaranteed), Mike Wallace (free agent), and Jordan Matthews (free agent).
- I can’t see the Eagles taking a first-round running back. They haven’t done it in 34 years. I’ll believe it when I see it. With that said, the team does need to make some kind of significant addition(s) in the backfield.
- I don’t see first-round cornerback happening, either. The Eagles have a lot of youth there already: Avonte Maddox (22), Sidney Jones (22), Rasul Douglas (23), Jalen Mills (24), and Cre’Von LeBlanc (24). We’ll also see what happens with Ronald Darby (25), who is set to be a free agent.
- Safety is an underrated need with Rodney McLeod (9.9 million cap hit) coming off ACL/MCL injuries and Corey Graham (free agent) potentially retiring.
- Who is your favorite for No. 25?