The NFL Draft is about a month away. The Eagles have made their major moves in free agency, so we have a feel for what holes are left on the roster and where the team could use an upgrade in talent. The Eagles drafted Carson Wentz second overall last year. Now, they need to provide him with some more weapons and they need to find some young talent to add to the defense. With that in mind, here is my first Eagles mock draft of the year.
First Round (No. 14 Overall): WR John Ross - Washington (5-11, 188 pounds)
Ross broke the Scouting Combine record for the fastest 40-yard dash when he ran a blazing 4.22 time in February. It is easy to focus on his speed, but Ross is more than a one-trick pony. He is a skilled receiver. Ross runs good routes and knows how to take advantage of his speed. He isn't big, but can be tough and physical at times. Ross was a dominant player in 2016, hauling in 17 touchdown receptions and helping Washington to get to the College Football Playoffs. He ran the ball eight times and averaged 13 yards per run. Ross is a threat every time the ball is in his hands. He returned four kickoffs for touchdowns in his career.
The Eagles added a pair of big receivers in Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith earlier this month. Ross would give them a young, explosive receiver to add to the mix. Smith has good speed, but Ross is on another level. He is faster than former Eagle DeSean Jackson, who is one of the fastest players I have ever seen. Ross would stretch the defense and open up space for guys like Jeffery, Ronald Darby, Zach Ertz, and Darren Sproles.
The only real concern with Ross is his injury history. He missed the 2015 season due to a knee injury. He also tore the meniscus in his other knee. Ross recently had shoulder surgery. To be fair, he never missed a game in 2013, 2014, or last year. He also played cornerback for part of the 2014 season to help the team out. You can't ignore the injury history, but need some context to really understand it. Howie Roseman has talked about wanting to surround Wentz with weapons. Wentz has a big arm and Ross would give him a downfield weapon to connect with for the next five to 10 years.
Second Round (No. 43 Overall): DE Jordan Willis - Kansas State (6-4, 255 pounds)
Brandon Graham had a terrific season in 2016. Vinny Curry didn't post great numbers, but he was disruptive. The team released Connor Barwin so they need another pass rusher for the rotation. Willis would be an ideal addition. He has the kind of frame that Jim Schwartz loves in his pass rushers. Willis is 6-4 and has 33-1/2-inch arms. That's good length. Willis had a strong showing at the Senior Bowl and was lights out at the Combine. He was also great during the season. Willis was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. He totaled 21 sacks over the past two seasons.
Willis lined up out wide a lot at KSU so he would be a natural fit in the Eagles' scheme. The only real question here is whether Willis would last to pick 43. There is some buzz that he could go in the first round. If Willis is available, the Eagles ought to run to the podium with their draft card. He would be a great choice.
Third Round (No. 74 Overall): CB Cameron Sutton - Tennessee (5-11, 188 pounds)
Cam Sutton missed part of his senior season with an ankle injury, but he had an outstanding career at Tennessee. He played in 45 games for the Vols, starting all of them. Sutton had 13 tackles for loss, 30 pass breakups, and seven interceptions in his career. He proved to be a dangerous returner, averaging 14 yards per punt return and taking three back for touchdowns. Sutton doesn't have great speed, but he is an athletic, aggressive corner. I watched him closely at the Senior Bowl and Sutton seemed like the kind of player Schwartz would love in his defense. Sutton can play in the slot or outside. He can press or play off. He isn't afraid to take chances and he can make plays.
The Eagles have a major hole at cornerback right now. Sutton could immediately challenge for a starting spot or to play the slot. He could also be a good special teams performer.
Fourth Round (No. 108 Overall): RB Kareem Hunt - Toledo (5-10, 216 pounds)
Hunt could go as early as the third round, but this is a deep, talented group of running backs so he could slide into the fourth. I think he would be an excellent addition for the Eagles. Hunt is the kind of smart, tough player who Joe Douglas and the scouts are looking for. He ran for 4,945 yards and 44 touchdowns in college. It is easy to dismiss that because he played in the MAC, but Hunt was good against everyone. He ran for 79 yards and a pair of scores against Temple's loaded defense two years ago. He went for 148 yards and three touchdowns against Missouri back in 2014. Last year, Hunt ran wild on BYU and its outstanding defense. He might have been at a small school, but Hunt was a big-time player.
Ryan Mathews played well last year, but he's about to turn 30. Darren Sproles said this is probably is final season. Wendell Smallwood showed a lot of promise last year, but the Eagles need another young runner to add to the backfield. Hunt is bigger and more physical than Smallwood, so they would complement each other well.
Fourth Round (No. 139 Overall): DT Ryan Glasgow - Michigan (6-3, 302 pounds)
Bennie Logan's departure for Kansas City leaves the Eagles needing help at defensive tackle. Glasgow has an excellent combination of size, athleticism, production, and talent. He could come in and challenge for a starting role as a rookie, or at least be part of the rotation. Glasgow only had four sacks at Michigan, but that only tells part of the story. There were plenty of times when his job was to occupy blockers or push the pocket so that the blitzers and edge rushers could make the play. Glasgow was good at doing the dirty work. I was very impressed with his athleticism at the Combine and think he could be more of a playmaker in the NFL.
Fifth Round (No. 155 Overall): CB Rasul Douglas - West Virginia (6-2, 209 pounds)
Douglas is another player I watched a lot at the Senior Bowl. He absolutely seemed like a Schwartz guy to me. Douglas loves to jump routes. He led the nation with eight interceptions in 2016. He spent the whole week in Mobile jumping routes and trying to get the ball. Douglas isn't afraid to get burned because he knows he will make his share of plays. He has excellent size at 6-2. Douglas can match up with big receivers. The biggest downside to him is pure speed. He ran 4.59 in the 40-yard dash at the Combine. Most teams want corners to be at 4.55 or less. Douglas will have a chance to run better at his Pro Day on March 31. That will be huge for him. Douglas isn't as experience or polished as Sutton, but his size and ball skills would be welcome additions to the Eagles' secondary. I think he could challenge for playing time right away.
Sixth Round (No. 196 Overall): LB Elijah Lee - Kansas State (6-3, 229 pounds)
The Eagles are returning the starting trio of Nigel Bradham, Jordan Hicks, and Mychal Kendricks. They are bringing back reserves Najee Goode, Joe Walker, and Kamu Grugier-Hill. You can argue they don't need a linebacker. Lee would be an interesting piece to the puzzle. He could play any of the three spots due to his size, athleticism, and background. I think he would be better outside than between the tackles. Lee left KSU after his junior season, but he still had 18.5 tackles for loss and five interceptions in his career. He wasn't invited to the Combine, but did have a strong workout at his Pro Day. Lee can be a tackling machine and a playmaker. He just isn't great in any one area.
Seventh Round (No. 232 Overall): S Shalom Luani - Washington State (5-11, 202 pounds)
This is a really good safety class and that means that a player or two could be available later than in most other years. Luani might be an example of such a player. He has good game tape. He has a good combination of size and athleticism. Unfortunately for him, there are just better prospects ahead of him. The Eagles are set with Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod as the starters. They could use a rookie to challenge Jaylen Watkins and Terrance Brooks for a roster spot and/or playing time. Luani is an excellent hitter and tackler, but he's also solid in coverage. I think he would fit Schwartz's scheme well.
Don't look at this as my ideal scenario, but rather just a possible scenario. Some of these players will go earlier, some later. There will be a couple of these players whom the Eagles don't have on their draft board. As outsiders, all we can do is guess based on the research we've done.
We'll find out the real answers a month from now.
Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Discussion Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. He is the Editor of IgglesBlitz.com.