ITB Mock Draft 2.0: Birds Stockpile On Defense Early
Much has changed since I pieced together my Eagles 1.0 Mock Draft in February. The Eagles, of course, shook up the entire complexion last week by opting to move down six spots, inciting a wave of new ideology and strategy across social media and the airwaves.
They’ve also managed to add intriguing veterans at safety and quarterback in the second gasp of free agency.
Of course, it takes more than one draft for Howie Roseman to adequately replenish a largely gutted roster, but I navigated through an entire seven-round mock draft to test the waters.
Here’s the second edition:
Pick 12: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
The unfortunate timing of Caleb Farley’s back surgery will likely send the blue-chip Va. Tech corner tumbling down draft boards on opening night. With Farley on the mend, South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn vaults to CB2 behind Alabama’s Patrick Surtain.
The Eagles, who perpetually struggle to identify a viable building block at the cornerback position, land an impactful Day 1 starter despite the trade down. Horn (6-1, 205) provides size, length, and toughness to the perimeter. Additionally, Horn – the son of former NFL receiver Joe Horn – boasts positional versatility, short-area quickness and change of direction to defend receivers of all shapes and sizes, and continuously demonstrated steady improvement throughout his career.
Horn injects a much-needed alpha mentality to a relatively tame secondary but must continue to hone his skills and play with discipline, as his aggressiveness tends to work against him. That said, Surtain may be the more pro ready of the premier cover men, but Horn offers greater upside.
Pick 37: Baron Browning, LB, Ohio State
Jonathan Gannon’s defensive philosophy remains a mystery, but the former Colts DB coach saw firsthand the impact that linebackers Darius Leonard and the underrated Bobby Okereke had on the Indianapolis defense. So, it is feasible to believe the new regime could holds the linebacker position in higher regard.
As the NFL continues to evolve and trend away from the traditional two-down thumpers, teams have become less enamored with size and physicality and drawn to speed, range, and coverage acumen at the second level. Call it a changing of the guard, but in order to adequately combat against the growing trend of explosive move tight ends and dynamic pass-catching running backs, adding a new-age NFL linebacker into the fold has become a necessity.
Like Horn, Browning is a plug-and-play prospect who should transition seamlessly to the pros. Browning boasts tremendous lateral quickness, burst, and explosiveness. The former Buckeye is plenty tenacious and hard-nosed against the run, but his fluidity in pass coverage reigns supreme.
The Eagles tried to shoehorn various second-level players into niche roles over the years, but Browning, a dominant three-down defender and future All Pro, represents a bonafide centerpiece at perhaps the teams most tumultuous position.
Pick 70: Patrick Jones, EDGE, Pittsburgh
Brandon Graham is 33, Derek Barnett remains an enigma entering his fifth season and the disruptive Josh Sweat may always have snap limitations due to his injury history. Additionally, Vinny Curry signed a 1-year deal with the New York Jets and Joe Ostman hardly constitutes as viable depth.
So, where do the Eagles go from here? The answer could fall right into their lap on Day 2.
Jones, who registered 17.5 sacks, 24.0 tackles for loss, and four forced fumbles the past two seasons, is among the best pure pass rushers in this class. At 6-foot-5, 260 pounds, Jones could stand to add another 10-15 pounds to his frame and must develop his play strength, but his athleticism, explosiveness and active hands gives him an advantage over many of the edge rushers in this class.
Jones also possesses terrific change-of-direction fluidity to go along with an abundant pass-rush repertoire, making him an ideal fit at No. 70.
Pick 84: Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina
Brown produced 106 receptions for 2,133 yards and 20 touchdowns for the Tar Heels over his final 23 games. At 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, Brown would add size and big-play potential to the receiving corps. The former Tar Heel is an explosive vertical weapon with innate tracking ability, which should consistently strike fear in opposing secondaries and open up short-to-intermediate patterns for teammates.
Brown boasts positional versatility, but wasn’t asked to run an expansive route tree in college, which can be a steep learning curve for some rookies. He could also stand to add some size to his frame.
That said, adding the fleet-footed Brown to a receiving corps that already includes Jalen Reagor, John Hightower, and Quez Watkins would make for an awfully exciting aerial attack for Jalen Hurts to grow with.
Pick 123: Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State
The absence of the power running game really shortchanged the offense last season. Miles Sanders was limited to just 12 games, which thrust the diminutive Boston Scott into a role in which he isn’t ideally suited.
In an effort to upgrade the No. 2 spot, the Eagles snag the diverse Kylin Hill in this scenario.
Hill, who sports an intriguing blend of power, finesse, and versatility to go along with outstanding contact balance, would perfectly complement Miles Sanders. Although very patient at the line of scrimmage, Hill doesn’t do much dancing when he sees a crease and decisively gets north-south. Hardly confused with being an electrifying home-run hitter, Hill is a tough, dependable runner who can grind out tough yards and always falls forward.
Pick 150: Divine Deablo, S, Virginia Tech
Built similarly to Kam Chancellor, Deablo is a smart, instinctive, physical defender who likely holds a dime linebacker role as a rookie. Extremely physical player who craves contacts, swarms to the ball, and plays with urgency.
Deablo isn’t particularly fluid, and his limitations were evident during Senior Bowl practices, but he can be effective and establish a niche at the next level under proper tutelage.
Pick 189: Jimmy Morrissey, C, Pittsburgh
Morrissey originally arrived at Pitt as an undersized walk-on before morphing into a four-year starter and three-time All-ACC selection. The Huntingdon Valley, Pa., native is a technically sound blocker, who, much like Jason Kelce, makes up for his underwhelming physical attributes with savvy, effort, and determination.
Given the uncertainty surrounding Kelce’s future, the Eagles should be eyeing his successor in the draft, which would allow Nate Herbig to continue his development at guard and Isaac Seumalo to establish continuity at left guard.
Pick 224: Deommodore Lenoir, CB, Oregon
The Eagles capitalize on a strong cornerback class and double-dip late on Day 3. Lenoir is an upside-laden defensive back who can line up inside or outside, though his primary position in the NFL will likely be as a nickel defender.
Lenoir works well in a confined space, routinely demonstrates fluid hips and adequate anticipation in coverage. Three-year starter whose best fit would be in a zone-based scheme, but has scheme adaptability due to his diverse set of intangibles.
Pick 225: Mustafa Johnson, DT, Colorado
You’d like to see the Eagles address defensive tackle depth before this point, but with the way the board fell, they still manage to add a contributing piece in Johnson.
Though considered undersized for an interior defender (6-2, 290), Johnson brings positional versatility, athleticism, burst off the ball, and a relentless motor. He never matched the production of his stellar sophomore season, where he amassed 52 tackles (15.5 for loss), and 7.5 sacks, but Johnson has established himself as an upfield penetrator in college. His ceiling at the next level will likely be as a third defensive tackle, but at No. 225, that is solid value.
Pick 234: Kylen Granson, TE, Southern Methodist
One of my favorite Day 3 sleepers, Granson has gone largely overlooked throughout the pre-draft process despite accumulating 78 receptions for 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns over his last 22 collegiate games.
Similar in size to former Eagles tight end Trey Burton, Granson should settle into a move tight end/special teams role at the next level. He may not possess starter upside, but Granson has the intangibles to carve out a lengthy pro career as a multi-faceted role player.
Pick 240: Drue Chrisman, P, Ohio State
It wouldn’t surprise me if the team opted to add an undrafted free agent to the mix for competition purposes, but Chrisman seems like a logical pick to close things out.
Chrisman (6’3”, 222), logged 27 punts for the Buckeyes last season and yielded a 45.0 yard average. Far from a roster lock, but he could stick as a young, low-cost replacement for Cam Johnston.
–– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.