The NFL Draft is only about a month away, so it is time to post my first mock draft. This is not my ideal scenario, but rather just one possibility based on the Eagles' needs, the kinds of players I think they will like and where these players could go in the draft.
First round (No.8 overall) - QB Jared Goff, Cal
Third round (No.77 overall) - DT Javon Hargrave, South Carolina State
Third round (No.79 overall) - DE Carl Nassib, Penn State
Fourth round (No.100 overall) - RB Paul Perkins, UCLA
Fifth round (No.153 overall) - WR Charone Peake, Clemson
Fifth round (No.164 overall) - OL Caleb Benenoch, UCLA
Sixth round (No.188 overall) - LB Steven Daniels, Boston College
Seventh round (No.233 overall) - OL Halapoulivaati Vaitai, TCU
Seventh round (No.251 overall) - S Tevin Carter, Utah
Now here are my in-depth explanations for the picks.
Jared Goff, QB - Cal (6-4, 215 pounds)
Goff is my favorite quarterback in the 2016 draft. Goff had a terrific junior season and will likely be the first or second quarterback taken in the draft. Goff is a gifted pocket passer with a strong arm. He is an accurate thrower. While he did play in a spread offense, Goff made plenty of deep and intermediate throws. One of the things that impressed me most is that Goff was excellent at situational football. On third-and-short, Cal would run certain plays designed to get a specific receiver open quickly. Goff was very good at getting the ball out with accuracy and touch. Goff showed good pocket presence, which I think is crucial for a quarterback to succeed in the NFL. He's not afraid to get hit, but he also can side-step rushers with small movements in the pocket.
The Eagles re-signed Sam Bradford and then added Chase Daniel in free agency. The team doesn't need a quarterback right now, but the draft is more about the future than the present. When you have a high pick and a quarterback is available, you should take him. Back in 2004, the Chargers had Drew Brees and spent a top-five pick on a quarterback. When they lost Brees, Philip Rivers took over and has provided stability for more than a decade. That's incredibly valuable. The Packers chose Aaron Rodgers when Brett Favre was still firmly their starter and playing at a high level. They didn't spend a top 10 pick, but it was a first-round selection.
Taking Goff now would give the Eagles the luxury of developing him for the future. Rodgers sat for three years. Rivers sat for two years. Tony Romo sat for three years. Tom Brady sat for a year. If you have a good starter, the young player can focus on mastering the playbook and getting better at practice. That makes life easier when they finally do get on the field.
Doug Pederson has said he wants his quarterback to be able to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage. Goff did some of that in college. By sitting for a year or more, he would be learning and that would help him to be ready to make pre-snap adjustments at the line.
Javon Hargrave, DT - South Carolina State (6-1, 309 pounds)
The Eagles have a pair of outstanding starters at defensive tackle. Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan should thrive in the new defensive scheme. Jim Schwartz likes to rotate his linemen so the backups need to be more than just players who can eat up a few snaps. They need to be talented, productive players. The Eagles have some interesting backup defensive tackles, but no one who is a sure thing to thrive in the new system.
Hargrave is built like former Eagle Corey Simon. He has thick thighs and a powerful lower body, which helps him to anchor against the run. Hargrave is also quick off the ball and highly disruptive. He had 37 sacks in college. He would be an ideal fit for Schwartz's scheme. Hargrave could play either the one-technique spot (Logan) or the three-technique spot (Cox). You may wonder about whether a player from South Carolina State can handle NFL competition. Hargrave went to the Shrine Game and really stood out. The big question with him is whether he goes in the second or third round.
Carl Nassib, DE - Penn State (6-7, 270 pounds)
Nassib is one of the craziest college football stories I can remember. He didn't start in high school. He went to Penn State and was a 218-pound long shot who played sparingly. He got on the field more in 2014, but then came out of nowhere in 2015 to earn a starting role and lead the nation in sacks (15.5). Think about that for a second. The man who led the NCAA in sacks wasn't good enough to start in high school. That's wild.
The Eagles already have Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham and Connor Barwin. Would they really invest in another pass rusher? Yes. As mentioned above, Schwartz loves to rotate his pass rushers. They are crucial to his defense. Nassib is big enough he could play at tackle in nickel and dime looks so there are different ways to get him on the field.
Nassib reminds me of Kyle Vanden Bosch, who played for Schwartz. Both are tall defensive ends with good athleticism and relentless motors. I think Nassib would love lining up in the wide-nine and firing off the edge. He has a good combination of power and speed, making him ideal for the scheme.
Paul Perkins, RB - UCLA (5-10, 208 pounds)
After trading DeMarco Murray, the Eagles could use a running back who can be a workhorse if called on. Perkins had more than 250 touches each of the past two seasons for the Bruins. He has a solid combination of size, athleticism and skill. Perkins has the kind of versatility needed to play in the NFL He can run, catch and even block. His blocking does need some work, but he's better than most prospects when they come out. Perkins has good lateral quickness and will make some impressive cuts.
Charone Peake, WR - Clemson (6-3, 206 pounds)
Peake has a great combination of size and speed. The only reason he might last to the fifth round is that he's had some injuries in his past, including a torn ACL. The additions of Chris Givens and Rueben Randle allow the Eagles to take a chance on Peake. He has a lot of upside, but only caught 99 career passes despite playing five years. Clemson has been a wide receiver factory in recent years so there is definite logic in taking a chance on Peake. The Eagles have some talented young receivers, but none of them has Peake's height (6-3) or his speed (4.37 in the 40).
Caleb Benenoch, OL - UCLA (6-5, 311 pounds)
We know the Eagles need help on the offensive line. Benenoch would give them an interesting piece to add to the mix. He played right tackle and right guard for the Bruins. Benenoch has a good combination of size and athletic ability. He is a better run blocker than pass blocker, but shows potential with his pass protection. Benenoch has the footwork to become a good pass blocker. He has good strength and power, which helps him get movement on run plays. He also has a bit of a nasty streak, which is something Pederson said he likes in his linemen. Benenoch could fit in at guard or right tackle.
Steven Daniels, LB - Boston College (5-11, 243 pounds)
Jordan Hicks will be the middle linebacker, but the team needs a backup to him. Daniels might be the most physical linebacker in the draft. He will take on offensive linemen and knock the heck out of them. He punishes runners and receivers. Daniels is a limited athlete, but started for three years and is a smart, productive player. He could be an excellent special teams contributor and is a good fit for Schwartz's scheme.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai, OL - TCU (6-6, 320 pounds)
Another offensive lineman to add to the mix. Vaitai played left and right tackle for the Horned Frogs. He had a good year in 2015, securing the left side for one of the nation's most explosive offenses. He has good feet and is a good pass blocker. Vaitai has the kind of size and length you want in a tackle, but he is physical enough that he also might be able to play guard.
Tevin Carter, S - Utah (6-1, 215 pounds)
The Eagles have a terrific pair of starting safeties, but Carter would be an excellent addition. He is a very good tackler and physical player. Safeties must be good run defenders in Schwartz's defense. Carter is good in the box and can be a big help against the run. He began his career as a wide receiver at Cal so he has a good understanding of routes and the passing game. He doesn't have ideal coverage skills, but is an effective pass defender.
Is this a perfect mock draft? No. There is no such thing. Heck, there is no such thing as a perfect draft. A team will never come away having filled all the holes on their roster with the kind of resources they want. There will always be a trade-off. Do you go for a running back more than a safety? Offensive tackle or defensive tackle? You only have one first-round pick.
One thing we do know for sure, the Eagles will have some interesting options when the real draft rolls around.