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2019 NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Running back, defensive tackle, and cornerback are the most popular Eagles picks

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Who will the Birds take?

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl - Alabama v Oklahoma Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

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) - Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

Whether Timmy Jernigan is back or not, the Eagles really need to be thinking about the future of their defensive tackle position. Fletcher Cox is obviously a stud but there’s not much there outside of him. Treyvon Hester looks like he can contribute as a backup but is he really a full-time starter? Wilkins can come in and immediately be an intriguing pairing option next to Cox. The Eagles will be lucky if Wilkins falls to them at No. 25 because he could easily go higher. As a bonus, he’d be a really fun guy to have on the team.

SB Nation (Dan Kadar) - Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama

Offseason needs: Cornerback, offensive tackle, running back, defensive line. The Eagles obviously need to find some fixes in the secondary, and left tackle Jason Peters’ career is winding down. But it will be hard to pass up on Jacobs, easily the draft’s top running back this year. Jay Ajayi is a free agent the Eagles could let walk, and Philadelphia’s backups are nothing special. Jacobs can be special.

ESPN In$ider (Mel Kiper) - Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson

Injuries in the secondary really hurt the Eagles in 2018, as the defense couldn’t match the play that led it a Super Bowl LII victory. And with Ronald Darby possibly leaving in free agency, cornerback is a spot to target here or with one of their two second-round picks. Mullen had an inconsistent 2018 season, but he has some excellent 2017 tape. And at 6-foot-2, 186 pounds, he’s a big corner. He should test well in Indianapolis.

The Draft Network (Benjamin Solak) - David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin

David Edwards was recently featured in a piece on overrated prospects from Bleacher Report, which I found mighty interesting — because nobody really talks about him that highly in this class. He’s a borderline Top-5 OT, and that’s mostly on upside. Philadelphia is fine with that trade, however: they need an OT to start in 2020, not 2019, the last year of Jason Peters’ deal. Edwards has elite athleticism for the tackle position, and a good foundation of technical skills given his limited years playing offensive tackle for the Badgers. Within a couple years of NFL ball, you expect him to be a starting-caliber player, with a sky-high ceiling.

DraftTek (Broz) - Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida

Well, Eagles fans, this is our first CMD since the Jeffery Simmons injury, and it’s the first CMD this year where a blue-chip D-Lineman didn’t fall into my lap at spot #25. From my perspective, the common assumption that Philly’s RD1 pick will be a D-Lineman is quickly evaporating. Unless you want the Eagles to reach for Zach Allen (overrated) or Brian Burns (underfed), then you’re left with either burning second rounders to trade up for a premier D-Lineman, or staying put and going in a different direction. I was highly tempted to take Josh Jacobs here because of his potential positive impact on Carson Wentz’s effectiveness. However, after 20 years of letting Andy Reid’s drafting philosophy seep into my cerebrum, the thought of drafting someone other than a QB, OT, D-Lineman, or CB in RD1 brings on an illogical feeling of impending doom that I just can’t shake. I’m surprised that O-Tackle has not been widely talked about as an urgent need by Eagles “experts” this offseason. If you believe that QB is the most important position in football, and that the play of your O-Line is directly proportional to the success of said QB, then Left Tackle should be VERY high on your Eagles’ needs list. Could Jason Peters limp through one more year? Maybe. Could Jordan Mailata go from never playing football to Pro Bowl Tackle? Maayyybeee. Could Big V...uhh, never mind. Let’s move on. In this week’s CMD, the Eagles stick with a money position, don’t reach for a D-Lineman, and select Florida’s OT Jawaan Taylor. Here, one of my favorite draft analysts rates him as a Top 15 player. Taylor has great size, strength, and raw skills...and unlike some of the Big Uglies drafted higher in this CMD, has true Left Tackle genes. The former Gator allowed 11 QB pressures in 426 snaps in 2018, and led a line that allowed only 18 sacks all year. And hey, for everyone that was jonesing for a dominant D-Lineman this week, look which pretend-Eagles GM used Jeffery Simmons’ horrible, costly misfortune to his advantage by scooping him up in RD2.

The Ringer (Danny Kelly) - Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

The heart and soul of the Eagles defense over the past couple of seasons has been its deep and versatile defensive line. Wilkins would be a perfect addition to that group: Capable of lining up on the inside or on the edge in a pinch, the athletic, high-motor pass rusher just seems to have a nose for the ball.

NFL.com (Charley Casserly) - Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama

The Eagles solve their RB problem with the draft’s top player at the position.

CBS Sports (Will Brinson) - Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama

The Eagles have been good about utilizing multiple running backs, but they were at their best with a guy they can lean on and Jacobs is a stud who can tote the rock and fit versatility wise in Doug Pederson’s offense.

CBS Sports (Ryan Wilson) - Jachai Polite, DE, Florida

Polite was one of the most exciting players we watched last season. There will be questions about his size (he’s listed at 240) and his one year of production, but if teams are OK with both, he could be a top-15 pick.

CBS Sports (Chris Trapasso) - Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

The Eagles could go in a lot of directions here. They can’t pass on a player as naturally talented as Murphy. He’d be an instant starter in their secondary and can comfortably line up against speedy receivers anywhere.

Sports Illustrated (Kalyn Kahler) - Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

A versatile and aggressive corner, Murphy would bring ball skills and the ability to cover the slot to an Eagles secondary that was hurt by injuries in 2018. He’s on the small side but more than willing to step up in run support.

Bleacher Report (Brent Sobleski) - Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

A team can never have too many cornerbacks, especially the Philadelphia Eagles after their secondary limped through an injury-plagued campaign. But in the disappointing performance is a silver lining: Multiple young cornerbacks—Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas—received valuable playing time. Improvement from each should be expected this fall. Plus, Jalen Mills will return from a season-ending foot injury. Even so, the Eagles could lose their top cover corner, Ronald Darby, to free agency. If they do, the position becomes pressing. The organization learned quality depth isn’t easily found if a defensive back or two misses significant time. The addition of another quality cover corner could significantly help last season’s 30th-ranked pass defense. Washington’s Byron Murphy is an excellent cover corner and a physical player at the line of scrimmage. His well-rounded play earned the highest grade of any collegiate cornerback last season, per Pro Football Focus. Like Georgia’s Deandre Baker, Murphy’s slight frame (182 pounds) is a concern, but he plays much bigger than his size and presents outstanding ball skills with 20 passes defended during his two seasons as a starter.

NJ.com (Zack Rosenblatt) - N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

Harry has a lot of similar skills to Alshon Jeffery — he’s big, physical, adept at bringing in 50/50 balls, extremely athletic and strong after the catch. He doesn’t have elite burner speed but, like Jeffery, is a strong down-the-field threat because of his physicality. The Eagles already have a fantastic collection of red zone weapons and he’d only add to that. He fits well as another outside receiver on the opposite side of the field, with Nelson Agholor (or someone else, perhaps) in the slot and as the primary deep threat. If the Eagles do plan to move on from Agholor (which is a possibility considering his cap hit), wide receiver jumps to the top of the list of positional needs anyway. I considered Clemson defensive lineman Christian Wilkins here too but ultimately I’m more confident that Harry will be here at No. 25 than Wilkins, and even if the latter is here, I’m not sure he has a higher ceiling at his position than Harry does at his. Plus, this is such a deep class of edge rushers, the Eagles should be able to find a talented one with one of their second-round picks.

Sporting News (Vinnie Iyer) - Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

This pick is building plenty of steam because the team’s need and the player’s skill set have started to line up so well. The Eagles could use a space-eater to flank Fletcher Cox and Lawrence is a textbook inside run-stuffer with ideal size (6-4, 351 pounds).

USA Today (Steven Ruiz) - Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

The Eagles will likely have to move on from Timmy Jernigan this offseason and don’t have much in the way of cap room to replace him with a veteran free agent. Dexter Lawrence and Fletcher Cox would form quite the pair of tackles.

DraftWire (Luke Easterling) - Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama

There are bigger needs on both sides of the ball, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Doug Pederson couldn’t resist adding a dynamic playmaker like Jacobs to his offense. Despite being a career backup for the Crimson Tide, Jacobs is absolutely deserving of being the first running back off the board in this draft.


SUMMARY

RB Josh Jacobs - 4
CB Byron Murphy - 3
DT Christian Wilkins - 2
DT Dexter Lawrence - 2
OT David Edwards - 1
OT Jawaan Taylor - 1
DE Jachai Polite - 1
CB Trayvon Mullen - 1
WR N’Keal Harry - 1

RB - 4
DT - 4
CB - 4
OT - 2
DE - 1
WR - 1

Offense - 7
Defense - 9

THOUGHTS

  • I’d be pretty surprised to see the Eagles take Josh Jacobs or Byron Murphy in the first round. The Eagles just haven’t valued running backs that highly and I don’t see how a rookie corner fits into the mix of what the Eagles currently have at that position.
  • I’d also be surprised if Wilkins makes it to the Eagles’ pick. If he does, run to the podium to turn that card in. The Eagles would also be sprinting if Taylor or Polite end up being available to them. Build through the trenches.
  • Who is your favorite for No. 25?