For full disclosure, Pro Football Focus’s simulator was used for this exercise. I also discussed my picks (and alternatives) further with Jimmy Kempski — who revealed his final mock as well — on the latest BGN Radio podcast episode, which you can listen to below or by [clicking here]:
1st round (No. 10 overall) - Nolan Smith, DE, Georgia
I don’t doubt that the Eagles would like to trade up for Will Anderson. I do doubt they’ll be able to pull that off. Moving up for Jalen Carter feels more realistic, especially if he makes it to No. 7. There’s a lot of conflicting information about whether he’ll go to the Seattle Seahawks at No. 5 or not.
Assuming the Eagles stick at No. 10, I’m going with my guy Nolan Smith. I previously made the case for him to be the selection when explaining my pick in this year’s SB Nation NFL community mock draft.
There are some questions about how Smith projects to the NFL considering his size. But he’s only an inch shorter and eight pounds lighter than Micah Parsons’ listed measurements from the NFL Combine. Smith’s actually an inch taller than Haason Reddick and just two pounds lighter. There’s reason to believe he can follow in their footsteps and utilize his elite athleticism to wreak havoc as both a pass rusher and run defender.
There’s also reason to believe in his character. The Eagles have made good bets on prospects like this in recent years. Jalen Hurts is a dog. DeVonta is a dog. Those are just two examples of dudes you do not want to bet against. They ooze Big Winner Energy. By all accounts, Smith checks all the boxes in that regard. Just look at the intensity and passion he plays with. He’s fearless. That’s a guy you want on your team.
This pick would immediately fit in as part of the Eagles’ pass rush rotation. Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham, Nolan Smith? That’s a pretty good group.
The concerns about his size are overblown. Same goes for the concerns about his lack of sack production:
Lot of discussion on Nolan Smith and production. First, pressure is more important than sacks. But if you want to look at sack rates, he is one of the best in this class.— Greg - PhillyCoverCorner (@greghartpa) March 30, 2023
Compare his run stop, sack, and pressure rates to the top EDGEs this year and since 2020. pic.twitter.com/C4S5zkupAs
Justin Jefferson was my guy in 2020. DeVonta Smith was my guy in 2021. Jordan Davis was my guy in 2022. Nolan Smith is my guy in 2023.
Listen to me, Howie, and draft Nolan Smith.
1st round (No. 30 overall) - Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
I’ll be very surprised if the Eagles don’t draft an offensive lineman before the end of Day 2. They might take one as high as No. 10.
I’ll also be pretty surprised if the Eagles pick and stick at No. 30. It’s a prime opportunity for them to trade down a little bit and acquire some more picks.
In the mock draft simulation that RJ Ochoa and I ran through during the latest NFC East Mixtape episode, I was able to move down to No. 42 and still draft Jones. That would be a pretty nice outcome.
Jones is one of the players the Eagles brought to Philly for an official pre-draft visit. The idea of Jeff Stoutland molding this 6’8”, 374 pound behemoth is tantalizing. I’m dreaming of unbalanced offensive line looks in the future where Jones is lining up next to the 6’8”, 365 pound Jordan Mailata. They’re going to pulverize people.
2nd round (No. 62 overall) - Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA
The Eagles can certainly afford to add more backfield talent. Charbonnet seems like a relatively safe prospect to bet on. He checks boxes when it comes to size, athleticism, and production. One can easily project him to be a three-down back in the NFL. Though not a dynamic weapon as a receiver, he’s at least capable in that regard. And he’s been lauded for being strong in pass protection. The Eagles adding a runner with size and physicality behind their offensive line is a good thing.
3rd round (No. 94 overall) - Trevius Hodges-Tomlinson, CB, TCU
THT might not seem like an ideal fit. The 5’ 8”, 170 pounder projects to play nickel cornerback in the NFL and the Eagles already have Avonte Maddox. But Maddox isn’t always great at staying healthy; he’s missed 26.8% of possible games since being drafted in 2018. When Maddox missed time last season, opponents regularly attacked his replacement — Josiah Scott — as an obvious weak point in the defense. THT would be an upgrade on Scott. His presence could also allow the Eagles to utilize Maddox more at safety, if they want to go that route.
7th round (No. 219 overall) - Brodic Martin, DT, Western Kentucky
Can’t imagine Howie lets 125 picks go by without making a selection. But I’m wary of mock draft simulators getting wacky with trade value so I didn’t want to get involved with that
Martin is yet another player who came to the NovaCare Complex for a pre-draft visit. Adding him to the roster would give the Eagles more depth at defensive tackle ... and especially in the Jordan Davis role. That’s not an unimportant spot to fill. Last year, the Eagles felt the need to sign both Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh after Davis had to go on injured reserve for a month.
7th round (No. 248 overall) - Bryce Baringer, P, Michigan State
Do I truly expect the Eagles to draft a punter? I do not.
But they should consider it!
Howie has undeniably gotten a lot more right than wrong lately. But for all the good he did last year, he totally botched the Eagles’ punter situation.
Arryn Siposs was downright awful late in 2021. Despite this, the Eagles decided it was a good idea to never add any competition for him. Not even an undrafted rookie free agent signing (meanwhile, the Tennessee Titans got Ryan Stonehouse as a UDFA and he was the best punter in the NFL). Siposs struggled again in 2022, ranking 33rd out of 34 punters graded by PFF. You may recall he botched a punt in the Super Bowl that played a big part in them losing that game.
The Eagles would be pretty dumb to let Siposs run unopposed in camp again this year. And so I have them taking the top punter prospect according to the punting experts over at Puntalytics:
3-year starter at MSU, Baringer headlines the 2023 class. After spending his first years of eligibility figuring out how to be a consistent punter, he put it all together in his last two seasons at Michigan State. His Open-field vs Pin-deep differential is the largest we have on record, but the alarming -0.25 PD score might be more a product of sample size and touchback luck. With good coaching he should quickly become a plus starter.
Bottom line: Baringer perfectly fits the model of a modern NFL punter. Massive leg and the rest can be figured out. NFL Comp: Ryan Stonehouse
- I could not be more confident the Eagles are not taking Bijan Robinson. It’s just not nearly as realistic as some are making it out to be (perhaps for the sake of content). I gladly bet another media member $100 that the Birds will pass on him. Free money.
- Nolan Smith might be able to play some off-ball LB snaps ... but I didn’t add a potential full-time player at that position. The Eagles really need more help there.
- I didn’t add a safety, though I did mention that taking THT could allow the Eagles to move Maddox to the back end in some capacity.
- I wear glasses. My unintentional four eyes bias might be showing by taking both Nolan Smith and Bryce Baringer.
- Check out more draft coverage on BGN Radio with Jimmy and I interviewing the great Tommy Lawlor:
Grade BLG’s Eagles mock draft
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