Mock Drafts mean absolutely, positively and, ultimately, nothing. But we eat 'em up. We love them. They help us fill the void during this quiet period in the NFL, and they create conversation and debate about "risers" and "fallers" leading into each spring's NFL draft …
The truth is, teams have their draft boards in place and they've got their reports on every draft-eligible player filed and, while there are going to be tweaks between now and April, not too many players have dramatic "falls" or "rises."
Between now and the draft, teams will line up their player interviews at the February 17-23 NFL Combine, schedule the at-faciliites' visits by select players and attend as many Pro Days at college campuses as possible. The performances in shirts and shorts and sport coats and ties will help form the final grade for every player.
We, as hardcore football fans and devoted lovers of the Eagles, can't wait so long. We need something, anything, to feed the addiction. We need names, no matter how worthless the information may prove to be.
A year ago, for example, the early Mock Drafts had the Eagles taking LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. (Mel Kiper, Jr., ESPN), Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard (Todd McShay, ESPN), Louisville safety Calvin Pryor (SI.com), Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert (SB Nation) and a choice of either Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer, Alabama safety Ha-Ha Clinton Dix or USC wide receiver Marqise Lee.
Of all of those players, only Dennard, Latimer and Lee were even available when the Eagles were first on the clock with the 22nd overall selection in the 2014 NFL draft.
So, take this for what it's worth. But I spent some time searching through the dozens of Mock Drafts out there to get a feel for what the draftniks think the Eagles are thinking with the No. 20 pick in the first round of April's draft. Some of the picks …
Mel Kiper, Jr., ESPN.com
Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
Because: I can't leave all the Eagles fans tweeting at me and asking the big question hanging, so I'll say this: Of course I can fathom a scenario where they move up (or at least look to) and target the QB who made it tough for Chip Kelly to leave for a good NFL job when he did. But I can't project a trade here, and just as many close Eagles observers know that help at cornerback is badly needed. Peters doesn't come without question marks -- he was dismissed from the team at Washington this past season -- but if it's purely a question of talent, he's a potential steal at this point in the first round. He has loads of natural talent, and playmaker instincts to go with very good ball skills, and he makes any secondary better if he's playing up to his potential.
P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State
Because: It's almost impossible to think about the Eagles and what they need and not conclude it's a defensive back. In this scenario, Williams is the best on the board.
Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State* *
Because: I've had several Eagle fans ask me if trading up for Marcus Mariota is a possibility. It's not if Tampa likes him. The Buccaneers actually wanted to move up to No. 1 before they had the first pick because they're desperate for a franchise quarterback, so they're not going to suddenly surrender the top choice. From what I've gathered, I don't even think three first-rounders would get it done for Philadelphia. Thus, if the Buccaneers choose Mariota over Jameis Winston, it's not happening. The news about Tampa liking Winston more than Mariota makes it more likely, especially given that the Titans like Nick Foles
Lance Zierlein, NFL.com
Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
Because: The Eagles know Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham are going to be issues within the division, and finding a cornerback with size and speed matters.
Pat Kirwan, CBSSports.com
Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
Because: Any chance Philadelphia has to get bigger on defense has to be taken. Brown will fit right in the rotation and a year from now will be the starter.
Chris Burke, SI.com
Bud Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky
Because: Conventional wisdom says the Eagles will address their secondary, and we all know how Chip Kelly loves to operate within the realm of conventional wisdom (#sarcasm #eyeroll). Dupree's better than Marcus Smith, the wholly disappointing 2014 first-rounder Kelly selected. There's uncertainty at OLB, too, especially if Brandon Graham departs.
Todd McShay, ESPN.com
Landon Collins, S, Alabama
The question everyone will ask is whether Chip Kelly will be willing to trade up to draft his former QB at Oregon, Marcus Mariota, particularly if Mariota starts to slide down the board a little bit. I know from talking with Kelly previously that he thinks the world of Mariota, but I have no idea how much he's willing to give up in order to go get him. If the Eagles stay put, Collins would be a good value pick here. He's the No. 15 overall prospect on our board, has good range in coverage and is a playmaker when the ball is in the air. But where he excels most is in run support, which is a good fit in the NFC East, especially versus the Cowboys. Moreover, SS Nate Allen is a free agent. Other options include Washington CB Marcus Peters and OLB Vic Beasley.
So there you go. Seven opinions. All defensive players. And, truth be told, all guesses. Because the reasons players "rise" and "fall" is because reporters find out more information from teams about how they rank the players, and the reporters change their rankings. Teams don't do it all that much, not after studying players for the last nine months, not after extensive reports have been written and dozens of games have been watched.
Welcome to Mock Draft season. It's a chance for all of us to continue our obsession, to talk about the Draft with more name recognition and inch closer to the actual draft weekend, roughly six Mock Draft versions from today.