DiCecco’s Draft Notes: Value In Day 2 Cornerbacks
As the NFL Draft rapidly approaches, I often compile an array of notes on position groups, potential scenarios, and everything in between.
In this week’s edition of my draft notebook, I highlight some Day 2 cornerback prospects to monitor and wide receiver flying under the radar, and also address a particular draft scenario that I’ve been mulling.
The Eagles’ secondary woes have been well documented, particularly concerning the No. 2 cornerback spot opposite Darius Slay, so look for the team to capitalize on a strong CB class in the early goings.
Avonte Maddox was egregiously miscast as an outside cornerback last season and will more than likely return to the slot, where he’s far more equipped. Beyond Maddox on the depth chart sits a slew of fringe depth corners, such as Michael Jacquet, Craig James, Kevon Seymour, and Lavert Hill – none of which is guaranteed a roster spot.
Nickell Robey-Coleman and Cre’Von LeBlanc are pending free agents who lack versatility, so their Eagles tenures have likely expired.
Fortunately, the Eagles won’t have to wait very long to find an upgrade.
Sure, adding a low-cost veteran in free agency to bridge the gap would serve as a temporary solution, but I anticipate the team spending one of its premium picks on a potential building block.
Even if Caleb Farley or Patrick Surtain II are bypassed in favor of a skill player, the top of Day 2 is sure to feature some tantalizing options.
Whether you’re partial to Greg Newsome, Asante Samuel Jr., Tyson Campbell or my personal preference, Georgia’s Eric Stokes, odds are favorable that the team comes away with one, given the extensive DB pedigree of defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.
I mentioned Stokes in my Eagles Mock Draft 1.0, but Newsome – another personal favorite – would be another intriguing option to consider. The Northwestern product is a fluid, instinctive, lengthy defender with a sharp football intellect and the ability to flip his hips and run with receivers of all shapes and sizes. It not for durability concerns, Newsome would be a surefire first-rounder.
Wondering About WR
So, what happens if the Eagles miss out on Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, or DeVonta Smith? Can they still adequately address a glaring need and identify an early contributor?
While this crop of pass-catchers isn’t quite as heralded as last year’s historically deep class, it’s not far off.
Immensely talented wide receivers, such as Terrace Marshall, Elijah Moore, and Tylan Wallace will be there for the taking on Day 2. I see a late Day 2 prospect in Western Michigan’s D’Wayne Eskridge, who has tremendous value and big-play upside.
Eskridge, who boasts electrifying straight-line speed, elusive short-area quickness, and precise route-running, has the alluring explosive traits and overall refinement that should translate to the pro level.
I anticipate the buzz to build around Eskridge in coming weeks – he projects to run a 4.2 40-yard dash at his pro day – though it’s feasible to think he’ll be around at the top of the third round.
Given his versatility and playmaking ability, Eskridge at No. 70 wouldn’t be a bad compromise.
OT at No. 6?
On the surface, the Eagles appear set at tackle. Lane Johnson and Andre Dillard are returning from their respective injuries and Jordan Mailata showed remarkable promise in his 10 starts.
Historically, however, the team has prioritized fortifying the trenches when an opportunity is presented. To take it a step further, the team has seen firsthand how quickly insufficient offensive line depth can derail a season. The Eagles would suddenly be banking on two players coming off an injury – one who’s hardly proved to be anything more than an adequate depth.
Add in the fact that Brandon Brooks, Jason Kelce, and Lane Johnson are north of 30, and it’s apparent that a youth infusion at the position is imminent sooner or later.
In other words, if Oregon’s Penei Sewell somehow sneaks past Cincinnati and tumbles to No. 6, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t be the best player available on the board.
Snagging Sewell, universally regarded as a top-three player in this class at sixth overall, would be highway robbery. And a no-brainer.
– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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