The draft is just over a month away and free agency is mostly done so it seems like a good time to take a look at a mock draft. This is a combination of what I think the team could do and what I would like to see them do. This is not a list of my favorite players or guys that I'm just dying for the Eagles to take. The players fit the Eagles schematically and should be good value at the spots I have them listed.
1st Round - No. 22 Overall - CB Kyle Fuller
2nd Round - No. 54 Overall - WR Jordan Matthews
3rd Round - No. 86 Overall - OLB Marcus Smith
4th Round - No. 122 Overall - DE Brent Urban
5th Round - No. 162 Overall - SS Isaiah Lewis
7th Round - No. 237 Overall - OL Trey Hopkins
Now let's talk about the players.
1st Round - No. 22 Overall - CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech, 6-0, 190
It might be wishful thinking for Fuller to make it to the 22nd pick. There are reports that some teams have him as their top rated corner. Fuller would be an excellent addition for the Eagles. He can press or play off. He is very instinctive and does a great job of shadowing receivers all over the field. Fuller has good body control, which allows him to break up passes without making contact and drawing flags. He broke up 10 passes in 2013.
Fuller was a full time starter for the past three seasons and even started most of his freshman year. He is a physical player who will hit and tackle. He even played the "Whip Linebacker" position for one season, so he's not shy about contact. Bill Davis likes big corners who can disrupt receivers as they release from the line of scrimmage.
The Eagles have a solid pair of starting corners, but this is the time to plan for the future.
2nd Round - No. 54 Overall - WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt, 6-3, 212
Chip Kelly wants big receivers.
Matthews has long arms and big hands. That helps him to extend for the ball and make some circus catches when throws are off target. Matthews does have some really impressive highlight reel catches. The one downside to him is that he drops too many passes. This is something he can work on, but the bottom line is that he doesn't have naturally good hands. Neither did Terrell Owens. Some guys like Cris Carter were born with soft hands and the ability to just pluck the ball. Other guys like Owens and Matthews have to work hard at it, but even then will have some issues.
I think Matthews would be a terrific fit for Kelly's offense. Matthews is very good at running after the catch, which is a critical skill for Eagles receivers. Kelly likes to throw quick screens and let the receivers make plays. Matthews is big and strong enough to break some tackles and he's got the speed to turn a short play into a big gain when he does get some space. Matthews is also good at catching the ball downfield so he would be able to help stretch the defense and keep teams from totally selling out to stop the run.
Matthews would be able to line up all over the field. He can play outside or in the slot. He can line up to the right or the left. He was all over the place with Vandy. He's also a good run blocker, which is something Kelly requires his receivers to do.
Matthews really stood out at the Senior Bowl back in January. He was clearly the best receiver down there. I think he can contribute right away and be a good starting receiver in time. He would be good value in the second round.
3rd Round - No. 86 Overall - OLB Marcus Smith, Louisville, 6-3, 251
Don't look at Smith as the cure to the pass rush woes. He's not a dynamic force off the edge that you can build the defense around. There are only a couple of guys like that in the draft and I think they'll be gone before the Eagles' first-round pick. I do think Smith can be a starting linebacker in the 3-4 and a good pass rusher.
Smith had 14.5 sacks and four forced fumbles as a senior. While those numbers are great, Louisville did some creative things on defense. Smith didn't line up and blow by left tackles play after play. They moved him around and mixed in lots of exotic blitz looks. Smith was used as both a defensive end and a linebacker. I think he looks like a natural linebacker. He's comfortable on his feet and playing on the move.
While Smith isn't explosive off the edge, he does have a good skill set. He sets the edge on run plays. He will battle blockers and doesn't let runners get outside of him cleanly or easily. Smith can drop back into coverage. He did this at Louisville and in the Senior Bowl game he covered a tight end down the field on a seam route. Smith is a relentless pass rusher. He might get blocked initially, but he won't stay blocked. He also understands rushing the passer from different spots. Some guys lined up wide and flew off the edge on almost every play. Smith was all over the place, which should help him adjust to NFL defenses.
I think Smith could play either linebacker spot for the Eagles. He's a good enough pass rusher that he could play on the right side, but is a complete enough linebacker to also play the left side. Playing with
4th Round - No. 122 Overall - DE Brent Urban, Virginia, 6-7, 295
Urban jumped out to me at the Senior Bowl. He got everyone's attention at the Senior Bowl weigh-in. He is six-foot-seven. He has 34-inch arms. He looks like the poster boy for a Chip Kelly defensive lineman. He played mostly defensive tackle at Virginia and was solid, but unspectacular. Urban was used as a defensive end in Mobile and looked good. He has the ideal frame for being a 3-4 defensive end. He's long, lean and strong. He's got enough strength to two-gap, but is also athletic enough to rush the passer.
The Eagles have
Urban is more of a run defender than anything else at this point. He can take on blockers and hold his ground. He's strong and uses those long arms to keep blockers away from his body. The coaches in Mobile praised him for his run defense during some of the group drills. With coaching, I think Urban can develop into an effective pass rusher.
5th Round - No. 162 Overall - SS Isaiah Lewis, Michigan State, 5-10, 211
The Eagles signed
The negative with Lewis is that he's not great at anything. He's not huge. He's not special athletically. He isn't a great cover safety or devastating hitter. He would be the jack of all trades, master of none. He started for three years and played on one of the best defenses in the nation. He did whatever was asked of him and helped the Spartans play at a high level.
I don't know if Lewis will ever start in the NFL. I think he has that potential, but I'm not sure how likely it is. He's tough, versatile and instinctive. Those are good traits. His lack of ideal size and athleticism will work against him. I do think he could be a good backup and terrific special teams player.
7th Round - No. 237 Overall - OL Trey Hopkins, Texas, 6-3, 305
The Eagles have a good starting offensive line, but do need more depth. Hopkins is a player the Eagles have shown some interest in and you can see why when you put on the tape. He started at right tackle as a sophomore and then moved to guard for his final two years. I think Hopkins projects to guard in the NFL. He doesn't have the length or footwork to play outside.
Hopkins is a good run blocker. He can move his guy off the ball. He's smart and that shows up in his blocking. Hopkins hits defenders in the right spot and understands the importance of proper angles when blocking. You'll see him engage a defensive lineman initially, then pass that player off and move on to the next level. Some players struggle with combo blocks like that, but Hopkins looks very natural.
Hopkins certainly has the power to be a good run blocker. He did 28 reps on the bench at his pro day. That's upper body strength. He had a vertical jump of 32 inches, which shows lower body explosion. You see his strength on tape when he is able to get movement in the run game.