Mock drafts are fun. We all love to do them, we all love to read them, and we all love to, well, mock them on occasion.
Mock drafts are nothing more than speculation based on teams’ needs, past drafting history and the astute evaluation of players by industry insiders and draft experts. They makes some really great guesses but, as we see year after year, trades happen and surprises abound, making it impossible to accurately predict exactly what’s going to happen.
That being said, there is value in doing mock drafts. You learn about who could be available and, if you do enough of them, you get a decent idea of how likely it is your team will land a player you really want.
Over at The Draft Network, they have a very fun Draft Machine, which lets you choose a team or teams and pretend you’re the GM using their predictive board. After fooling it around with it for a bit, I decided to do an experiment. I conducted 25 mock drafts of the first three rounds only and allowed the simulator to make the Eagles’ picks. Every draft came back different, although there were a few in which the first and second round selections were the same (mostly a CB-WR/WR-CB duo).
However, there were also some very interesting outliers and scenarios worth mentioning. Based on those 25 mock drafts, here is who they had the Eagles picking in each of the first four rounds (number of times they were selected in paranthesis).
Henry Ruggs-WR, Alabama (7), Tee Higgins-WR, Clemson (5), Patrick Queen-LB, LSU (4), Damon Arnette-CB, Ohio State (3), C.J. Henderson-CB, Florida (3), Kristian Fulton-CB, LSU (1), Laviska Shenault, Jr.-WR, Colorado (1), Kenneth Murray-LB, Oklahoma (1)
It should warm everyone’s hearts to know that in seven of the 25 mocks (28%), the Eagles landed the player who might be the best fit for where they draft at No. 21. Henry Ruggs would bring the type of speed this offense has desperately needed over the last few years and, coupled with a healthy DeSean Jackson, would provide match-up nightmare for opposing defenses.
Tee Higgins was mocked to the Eagles in five of the 25 drafts and while he certainly plays a position where an upgrade is necessary, he’s more of a possession-type receiver than a field stretcher. Here’s a small portion of Benjamin Solak’s write-up on him for The Draft Network.
Tee Higgins is a Day 2 candidate for teams looking for a downfield, contested catch threat to win against man coverage. Higgins is an average route-runner who won with size and length at the collegiate level, but is not as effective against physicality as a man his size should be, and must find savvier ways to win at the NFL level in order to consistently release off the line of scrimmage. If Higgins is unable to develop his hand usage and technique on his releases, his lack of quality burst or long speed will relegate him to boom/bust usage from the Z-alignment on nines, posts, and back-shoulder fades.
Interestingly, the simulator had the Eagles taking linebacker Patrick Queen four times. Sure, the team needs linebacker help, but it would truly be a shock if they spent a first round pick on one. And in one of those mocks, Henry Ruggs was still on the board when they gave the Eagles Queen, so that particular draft comes with an eyebrow raised.
In only seven of the mocks did they have the Eagles taking a cornerback — three times each for Ohio State’s Damon Arnette and C.J. Henderson of Florida, and once for Kristian Fulton of LSU.
Trevon Diggs-CB, Alabama (5), A.J. Terrell-CB, Clemson (5), Jake Fromm-QB, Georgia (3), Jonathan Greenard-EDGE, Florida (2), Brandon Aiyuk-WR, Arizona St. (2), Jalen Reagor-WR, TCU (2), K.J. Hamler-WR, Penn St. (1), Troy Dye-LB, Oregon (1), Jeff Gladney-CB, TCU (1), Curtis Weaver-EDGE, Boise St. (1), Zack Baun-EDGE, Wisconsin (1), Jordyn Brooks-LB, Texas Tech (1)
Obviously the second round offered a little more variety, and it was here where the simulator had the Eagles strengthening their defensive backfield more often. Eleven of the 25 picks were for cornerbacks, with Alabama’s Trevon Diggs and A.J. Terrell of Clemson selected five times each.
The most fascinating results came with the player who was taken third-most, Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm! A quarterback in the second round? With all the needs this team has? Really?
Fromm gets high marks for his ability to process information, his accuracy and decision making, but doesn’t have the raw attributes one would normally look for in a quarterback. So while the Birds may indeed be looking for a new back-up for Carson Wentz next year, I highly doubt they’d spend a second round pick to do it, even if they liked everything Fromm brought to the table.
If the Birds take something other than a wide receiver in the first round, it’s likely they’d try and get their hands on one in the second round, but again, they’d be looking for a speed guy. That’s why it’s a little disappointing that Penn State’s K.J. Hamler was only mocked once to the Eagles. He was usually off the board before their turn came in the second round again. Brandon Aiyuk of Arizona State and Jalen Reagor of TCU are both big-play threats and can stretch the defense, if undersized players who struggle with physicality.
Malik Harrison-LB, Ohio St. (3), Evan Weaver-LB, California (2), Michael Ojemudia-CB, Iowa (2), Jabari Zuniga-EDGE, Florida (2), Troy Dye-LB, Oregon (2), Alex Highsmith-EDGE, Charlotte (2), Akeem Davis-Gaither-LB, Appalachian St. (1), Khalid Kareem-EDGE, Notre Dame (1), Quartney Davis-WR, Texas A&M (1), Darrell Taylor-EDGE, Tennessee (1), Jordyn Brooks-LB, Texas Tech (1), Darnay Holmes-CB, UCLA (1), Van Jefferson-WR, Florida (1), Cameron Dantzler-CB, Mississippi St. (1), Denzel Mims-WR, Baylor (1), Bradlee Anae-EDGE, Utah (1), Jaylon Johnson-CB, Utah (1), K.J. Hill-WR, Ohio St. (1)
Obviously, by the time you get to the third round, things are harder to predict. Again, the simulator had the Eagles looking to draft a linebacker early and, with their second pick on the second day, Ohio State’s Malik Harrison was mocked to them three times, more than any other player. With Nigel Bradham’s future after 2020 in doubt, a guy like Harrison could be tabbed to take over as the starting MIKE in 2021.
Two more linebackers, Evan Weaver of California and Troy Dye of Oregon, were taken by the Eagles with their third pick twice, as was cornerback Michael Ojemudia of Iowa, and edge rushers Jabari Zuniga of Florida, and Charlotte’s Alex Highsmith.
It should be noted that, while the Eagles would probably like to go WR/CB or CB/WR in the first two rounds, drafting for need is often a fool’s errand. If a quality edge rusher or high-end safety falls to them in either spot, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Eagles pounce there, either.
Whatever the Eagles do, it’s clear they need to add speed all over the field, both on offense and defense.