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NFL Mock Draft 2019: Eagles take massive defensive tackle in the first round

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ACC Championship - Clemson v Pittsburgh Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

There are just 10 days until the 2019 NFL Draft begins on Thursday, April 25. A little over one week away! We’re going to kill some time until then with our weekly Mock Draft Monday series. (You can also check out BGN’s latest mock draft roundup.)

Last week, SB Nation’s Dan Kadar had the Eagles going with an offensive lineman at No. 25. This, Kadar has the Eagles taking a defensive lineman. The pick:

25. Philadelphia Eagles: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

The Eagles could use some help on both lines. An interior offensive lineman like Chris Lindstrom of Boston College could be a target at No. 25. But a run stopper like Lawrence has appeal. The Eagles finished near the bottom of the NFL in rushing last season, and need more talent next to Fletcher Cox. Malik Jackson was a decent signing, but his best days are behind him. In a division with Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott, this has to be fixed for the Eagles.

Lawrence was a popular mock draft pick for the Eagles earlier this offseason but then it stopped. Now it’s back again.

The fit makes sense. The Eagles don’t really have a bigger, run-stuffing defensive tackle like the 6-4, 340 pound (!) Lawrence on their roster. You know, a guy in the Beau Allen or Haloti Ngata mold. The Eagles could afford to add someone like that to their defensive tackle rotation, especially with Malik Jackson getting benched for bad run defense in 2018.

But do the Eagles really need to use a first-round pick to address this need? Run-stuffing defensive tackles aren’t exactly impossible to come by. Guys like Danny Shelton and Bennie Logan are still free agents.

I can’t see the Eagles valuing Lawrence as highly as No. 25 unless they feel good about his potential as a pass rusher. His college production wasn’t great in that regard considering he only had 3.5 sacks in his last 24 games (10 in 38 total college games).

In fairness to Lawrence, sacks aren’t everything. Pro Football Focus notes Lawrence had the 12th best pass rushing graded among college players in 2018. He’s also 21 years old, so maybe he has some upside in that regard? Some scouting reports suggest as much. From former Eagles scout Daniel Jeremiah:

Lawrence is a hulking defensive tackle at 6-4 and 342 pounds. As a pass rusher, he primarily relies on his strength and power to push the pocket. He does have impressive foot quickness and occasionally flashes a nifty swim move. However, he didn’t get many opportunities, because Clemson brought in more explosive rushers in obvious passing situations. He is a dominant run defender. He easily stacks single blocks on the front side and refuses to be cut off on the back side. Teams will need to investigate the suspension for a failed test for performance-enhancing drugs that kept Lawrence out of the College Football Playoff. Overall, Lawrence will be an immediate force against the run, and I believe he has the potential to develop into more than a pocket pusher in the passing game.

I’d be more excited about the Eagles taking Lawrence if he somehow fell to the second round. If the Eagles are getting a Clemson defensive tackle in the first round, I’m hoping it’s Christian Wilkins.

Kadar’s mock notably has the Eagles passing on another defensive tackle — Jerry Tillery — who might make more sense given how Philly values pass rush. Tillery’s build is slighter at 6-6, 295 pounds but he offers much more pass rushing upside. I’d prefer both Wilkins and TIllery over Lawrence.

What say you?

Spider graph via Mockdraftable:


Grade the Eagles’ mock draft selection of Dexter Lawrence at No. 25

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