ITB Eagles Mock Draft 1.0: Birds Snag WR, CB Early
After a dismal 2020 season, the Eagles are set to embark on what many expect to be an arduous, three-year rebuild.
With the offseason well underway, one can expect that general manager Howie Roseman's every move will be viewed under a microscope as he's tasked with identifying building blocks for future success.
It will take more than one draft for Roseman to adequately replenish a largely gutted roster, but I navigated through a seven-round mock draft to test the waters. Compensatory picks haven't yet been announced, so the second version will have more names. Here's the first edition:
Pick 6: Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Assuming Carson Wentz has taken his last snap in Philadelphia, Eagles brass finds themselves in an opportune spot to upgrade the weaponry around second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts. If Hurts is truly viewed as the next face of the franchise, he needs general manager Howie Roseman's margin for error to be razor-thin. Roseman will be tasked with restocking a cupboard barren of skill players, an area in which he failed to deliver for Wentz
Unless Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell manages to sneak past the Bengals and fall into the Eagles' lap, LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase represents the bonafide top receiver they so desperately need.
Though he doesn't sport prototypical size for the position (6'0", 208), Chase is compactly built, slippery in the open field, and plays with a mean streak. A contested-catch specialist, Chase's game is more so predicated on quickness than speed, but his body control and exceptionally large catch radius give him an advantage over most cornerbacks.
With veterans Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson assuredly looking elsewhere for work in 2021, the Eagles need to establish a young nucleus of receivers for Hurts to grow with.
Pick 38: Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
The No. 2 cornerback spot remains among the most prominent roster deficiencies. When the team prematurely bid farewell to Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones before the season, Avonte Maddox was essentially handed the job by default. Lining up at the cornerback spot opposite Darius Slay, the overmatched Maddox quickly became a favorable target for opposing quarterbacks.
Given the DB background of new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, however, this feels like a spot where the perpetually maligned position is addressed.
Both Georgia cornerbacks, Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell, should be available when the Eagles are on the clock. As intrigued as I am with Campbell as a prospect, I prefer Stokes' innate ball skills and instincts. For perspective, Stokes intercepted four passes in nine games for the Bulldogs last season, returning two for touchdowns. The fourth-year senior also leaves Athens with 1.0 sack and 22 passes defended on his resume.
At 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, Stokes sports the prototypical frame that Gannon covets and can eventually measure up to the NFL's elite under his tutelage. However, he will need to combat his over-aggressiveness and develop his play strength for sustained success at the pro level.
Pick 70: Jabril Cox, LB, LSU
Despite the unexpected emergence of Alex Singleton, the Eagles once again finished with one of the league's most uninspiring linebacker groups. Aside from Singleton, the unit is largely comprised of a collection of role players and third phase standouts.
Davion Taylor, a third-round selection from a year ago, is still immensely raw and likely a ways away from factoring into the defensive equation.
Where could they go from here?
Well, the longstanding data with this particular franchise suggests the Eagles are highly unlikely to invest a first or second-round pick on a linebacker. However, with a 2021 class rich with talent at the position, the Eagles could feasibly land an early contributor with their third-round pick.
The team goes back to the LSU well once more in this scenario to snag Jabril Cox, a North Dakota State transfer who recorded 58 tackles (6.5) for loss, 5.0 passes defended, 1.0 sack, 3.0 interceptions, and a touchdown in his lone season in Baton Rouge.
The 6-foot-4, 231-pound linebacker fits the mold of the modern-day NFL defender, in that he can thrive in both man and zone coverage, has the range to cover sideline-to-sideline and can eliminate tight ends and running backs in the passing game. Cox might never be a thumper against the run, but his coverage prowess and distinctive traits are what every defense needs to compete in today's NFL.
While Taylor continues to find his way, the Eagles would be wise to consider bolstering the position with this pick.
Pick 149: Caden Sterns, S, Texas
I view K'Von Wallace as more of a third safety and didn't expect Sterns to tumble this far down the draft board, so here we are.
Sterns (6'1", 207) is a smooth coverage safety, exceptional in both man and zone coverage. One other trait that stands out in regards to the Texas safety, apart from his coverage acumen, is his shrewd football intellect. Sterns essentially served as the quarterback on the Longhorns' defense during his three seasons and enters the 2021 NFL Draft with a wealth of experience.
Much like third-round pick Jabril Cox, Sterns would bring a translatable skill set to today's NFL with his versatility and coverage prowess. A safety room comprised of Wallace, Sterns – and possibly Jalen Mills – wouldn't be as daunting.
Pick 153: Cameron Sample, DL, Tulane
Sample, coming off a strong showing in the Reese's Senior Bowl, was one of my players to watch entering the week. Though he lacks the desired measurables and is hardly considered an elite athlete, Sample is strong at the point of attack, reacts with urgency, and provides positional versatility. The Tulane product saw his stock soar after a productive week in Mobile. He would be a plug-and-play option as a rotational defensive end.
Pick 187: Elijah Mitchell, RB, Louisiana Lafayette
Mitchell spent the vast majority of his college career in a three-person backfield before ultimately splitting duties with Trey Ragas last season. He finished his Ragin' Cajuns career with 3,247 rushing yards (6.2 YPC) and 41 touchdowns.
While Mitchell debunked the notion that he is much more than a powerful interior runner in Mobile, he lacks a dominant trait. However, Mitchell is nimble on his feet, demonstrates good vision when sifting through traffic, and consistently showcases the innate contact balance to punish defenders and fall forward.
Mitchell also has untapped potential as a pass-catcher and relatively limited tread on the tires due to Lafayette's committee approach.
The Eagles are in desperate need of a between-the-tackles grinder to complement Miles Sanders. At 5-foot-10, 215 pounds, Mitchell fits the bill.
Pick 221: 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 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 230: Isaiah McKoy, WR, Kent State
McKoy is hardly a household name, but managed to follow up a year in which he accumulated 872 receiving yards and eight touchdowns with 455 receiving yards and five touchdowns in four games last season, so he's been on my radar.
McKoy (6'3", 200) has tremendous body control, explosiveness after the catch, and a propensity to glide in and out of breaks with little wasted movement. A former high school track standout, McKoy's game also comes equipped with a vertical element – a common theme among the young contingent of Eagles wide receivers. Though his game lacks overall refinement, this is the kind of athlete teams typically take a flier on at this stage of draft weekend.
Pick 256: Robert Rochell, CB, Central Arkansas
Speaking of upside, Central Arkansas' Robert Rochell certainly falls into that category. His athleticism is apparent – Rochell began his career as a wide receiver – and he boasts tremendous length and physicality. When Rochell tends to struggle, it's typically due to technical flaws. However, if he lands with a strong coaching staff or a situation that can afford to give him a long look, the Senior Bowl alum should eventually realize his potential.
–– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.