Birds Nab D-Line Pair
DiCecco's Eagles Mock Draft 3.0
As the long-awaited 2023 NFL Draft slowly comes into focus, the Eagles find themselves primed to restock the roster with early contributors and impact prospects. They possess three of the top 62 picks.
Free agency served as the table-setter to what figures to be an eventful weekend for the Super Bowl runner-ups.
In the third edition of the Inside the Birds 2023 Eagles seven-round mock draft, I analyzed each selection, identifying the best values and fits.
If you missed my 2.0 version, you can find it here.
Round 1, No. 10: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
With Murphy, the Eagles continue to replenish the trenches in keeping with their long-standing philosophy. Murphy, among the more under-discussed top-end talents, has been a model of consistency and continuous improvement throughout his three-year Clemson run, collecting 18.5 career sacks and 36 tackles and concluding his career as a first-team All-ACC selection. The 6-foot-5, 268-pound lineman is a scheme-versatile prospect with experience in multiple alignments. Though still refining and developing his pass-rush repertoire, Murphy’s elite athleticism, fluidity, and maturity gives him a distinct edge over most of his draftmates. His lightning-quick first-step is also among the best in the class. In Philadelphia, Murphy would join a vast and diverse defensive line contingent, likely beginning his career as an impactful force in sub packages.
Mock Draft 2.0 pick: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Round 1, No. 30: Mazi Smith, IDL, Michigan
It’s not Jalen Carter, but the Eagles pounce on tremendous value at the tail end of the first round in Smith. While the enchantment surrounding former first-rounder Jordan Davis – and seemingly emerging Milton Williams is justified – both players are accompanied by some questions marks. And the depth beyond Davis and Williams – along with veteran Fletcher Cox – is thin, with a trio of unproven commodities who are hardly assured roster spots. The 6-foot-3, 323-pound Smith would arm the Eagles with additional size along the interior, but more importantly with short-area quickness, athleticism, and power at the point of attack. A consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection, Smith started all 14 games at nose tackle last season for the Wolverines, logging 48 tackles (2.5 for loss), a half-sack, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Big plays have largely eluded Smith throughout his three-year career in Ann Arbor, and his 33 3/4 arm length might cause some trepidation in terms of shedding blocks, but I believe he has yet to scratch the surface of his capabilities. Being drafted to Philadelphia, and joining a loaded and multifaceted defensive line, would only accentuate his skill set.
Mock Draft 2.0 pick: Calijah Kancey, IDL, Pitt
Round 2, No. 62: Steve Avila, IOL, TCU
Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski certainly warrants consideration at No. 10, but unless the Eagles view him as the heir apparent to right tackle Lane Johnson – a position of higher value — it’s difficult to fathom taking a guard in the top 10 ahead of other potential blue-chip prospects. But the Eagles could find themselves in prime position to brace for the inevitable post-Jason Kelce era and solidify the interior offensive line in Round 2, specifically with TCU’s Steve Avila. The 6-foot-3, 332-pound former Horned Frog comes with three years of starting experience and versatility – he started seasons at both center and guard – that offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland values. An instant starter for any other team, Avila – a 2022 consensus All-American – would have the luxury of playing alongside some of the game’s best.
Mock Draft 2.0 pick: Sydney Brown, S, Illinois
Round 3, No. 94: Daiyan Henley, LB, Washington State
In this scenario, the Eagles wait until the third round to address their faultiest unit, bolstering the second level by adding the uber-athletic Henley, who actually spent his freshman and sophomore campaigns at Nevada catching passes and returning kicks. But the wide receiver-turned-linebacker flourished in his lone season at Washington State, registering 106 tackles (12 for loss), four sacks, an interception, three forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries. The 6-foot-1, 225 pound Henley – who clocked a 4.54 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine – can best be described as tenacious and rangy, brimming with athleticism. Henley’s game is predicated on explosiveness, speed, and intangibles as opposed to being technically proficient and mastering the intricacies of the position. But the upside is apparent. He also offers third phase ability, paving a presumably unimpeded pathway to playing time while he acclimates to the pro level. An eventual Nakobe Dean-Daiyan Henley pairing would provide an influx of optionality for defensive coordinator Sean Desai.
Mock Draft 2.0 pick: Tank Bigsby, RB, Auburn
Round 7, No. 219: Anthony Johnson Jr., S, Iowa State
Given the uninspiring positional complexion, one could argue that safety should be a higher priority. The position group is among the team’s shallowest, and Johnson’s selection wouldn’t do much to alter the landscape – at least not in the early going. Other safeties such as Boise State’s JL Skinner and Georgia’s Christopher Smith were considered for No. 94, but I ultimately went in a different direction and opted to address the position on Day 3.
Johnson, a four-year starter for the Cyclones (54 career starts), transitioned from cornerback to safety last season, yielding favorable results, producing 60 tackles, two interceptions, four passes defended, and a forced fumble in 12 games. The 6-foot, 205-pound defender is a fluid mover who offers versatility, athleticism, and range. Johnson is far from a finished product, however, and is still learning the subtleties and nuances of the position. Johnson should be viewed as a high-end project player who should factor prominently on special teams from the get-go.
Mock Draft 2.0 pick: Matt Landers, WR, Arkansas
Round 7, No. 248: Malik Cunningham, QB, Louisville
The Eagles land an intriguing dual-threat project in Cunningham, who passed for 9,660 yards and 70 touchdowns during his Cardinals tenure, while adding 3,179 yards and 50 touchdowns as a runner. Cunningham (6-1, 192) is slightly built but electric as a runner and has offered glimpses of promise as a passer. At this stage of the draft, teams typically covet traits and upside and are more inclined to swing the bat on a late-round flier. If Cunningham – who eclipsed Lamar Jackson’s school-record in total touchdowns (120) – can exhibit enough progression in training camp, he could perhaps unseat Ian Book as the No. 3 quarterback.
Mock Draft 2.0 pick: Mohamoud Diabate, LB, Utah
– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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