Philadelphia Eagles 2013 NFL Mock Draft, Week 3: 7 Rounds
Philadelphia Eagles Seven Round Mock Draft
The NFL is now two weeks into free agency. The Philadelphia Eagles have brought in nine free agents (FAs) to fill or compete for various starting positions. The Eagles main focus centered on the defensive side of the ball, with only one FA going to both the offensive side of the ball and special teams. These moves have seemed to fill a number of holes that the Eagles had before FA began earlier this month.
Though some holes have seemingly been filled by acquisitions, there is still a need for competition and depth. It seemed as though the organization began getting comfortable with bringing in players and just plugging them into the starting lineup without a real challenge. This does not to appear to be the mindset of head coach Chip Kelly.
Competition has seemingly been the theme of Kelly’s roster building tactics since he took over the position. Bringing in FAs and draft picks to challenge veterans should not only improve the play of starters, but should also increase the play and readiness of the backups. As the Eagles learned in 2012, depth is a vital key that should not be overlooked. Offensive and defensive line depth appear to be on the forefront of this rebuilding project, as they should be.
All of these moves that the Eagles have made in FA, and even before, have undoubtedly affected their draft strategy. This is the third installment of my Eagles seven-round mock draft and there are plenty of changes.
We still don’t know everything that Kelly and his staff are planning for the Eagles this season, but it does look like draft picks will be selected to challenge veterans and FAs. So with nine picks in the 2013 NFL Draft next month, we will find out more about the direction that the Eagles decide to go in.
First Round: Eric Fisher, Offensive Tackle, Central Michigan
Eric Fisher is unanimously regarded as the second best offensive tackle in this draft. He excels in all scouted areas and is considered a smart and very responsible young man. Fisher plays very hard and his passion is evident in his play on tape. He constantly gives a second effort and plays to the whistle. He also shows elite awareness in pass protection, with well above average awareness in run blocking.
The Eagles had one of the best offensive line units in the league in 2011, though the team still struggled to an 8-8 record. However, in 2012, injuries to most of the starters along the line and a lack of adequate depth plagued the Eagles in rout to a 4-12 record.
All of the starters along the offensive line appear to be on track to be healthy for the 2013 season. Depth and competition is sorely need to solidify this line. A top three draft pick should help in that regard. Fisher could replace RT Todd Herremans and move him back to his original RG position. This would answer the question of what to do with the under-performing RG Danny Watkins, who should make for a valuable backup offensive guard at this point in his career.
The versatile Fisher (who played every position along the line except for C and RG) could also serve as depth behind the two starting tackles, LT Jason Peters and Herremans. Both of these players are coming off of season-ending injuries in 2012.
Second Round: Matt Elam, Safety, Florida
In 2012 Matt Elam was named a first-team All-American by the Associated Press, The Sporting News, CBS Sports, Scout.com and Sports Illustrated, as well as a second-team selection by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. He also has a FS mentality which has been missing in the Eagles secondary for some time now. He can challenge immediately for a starting position or be a quality backup in the event that newcomers Kenny Phillips gets hurt or Patrick Chung underachieves.
Elam should be an upgrade over the production that the Eagles have received from the safety position the last two seasons. Phillips and his troubles staying healthy may provide the perfect opportunity for Elam to come in and learn while avoiding the instant pressure of being named a starter from day one (see RG Danny Watkins).
Third Round: Jesse Williams, Defensive Tackle, Alabama
From Brisbane, Australia, Jesse Williams grew up playing rugby and basketball in Australia before taking up football at 14 years old. He took the JUCO route before transferring from Western Arizona C.C. to Alabama in spring of 2011. His injury history appears to be the only knock on the stud defensive tackle, who shined at Alabama. He did not work out at the NFL Combine due to a medical exception for his right knee, which will need to be cleared. If healthy, his prototypical measurements, good motor, toughness and run-stuffing abilities will be a welcome addition to the Eagles defensive tackle competition.
The Eagles FA acquisitions have hinted that they appear to be leaning towards installing a 3-4, or a 4-3 hybrid, base defensive front. A switch from a 4-3 defense presents many challenges, most notably the change in the types of players the team needs. Former San Francisco 49ers NT Isaac Sopoaga was brought in to man the NT position; however, the DE positions appear to be open to competition as the Eagles currently have mostly 4-3 DEs on the roster. Williams could challenge for one of the two DE positions.
Fourth Round: Mallicah Goodman, Defensive End, Clemson
The winner of the Clemson Solid Rock and Iron Man award in 2012, Mallicah Goodman has production and versatility that are very intriguing. He has experience inside, outside and even at 3-4 OLB. This, along with his above average blend of height, weight and top-end speed make Goodman a very good DE prospect for the Eagles. He also has rare hand size and arm length that should make him a good challenge to the current DE group.
With more and more evidence pointing towards the Eagles employing a 3-4 or non-traditional 4-3 front, they need to continue bringing in players with experience and are good fits in their new scheme. Adding Goodman for competition would, at worst, increase the Eagles DE depth.
Fifth Round: Matt Scott, Quarterback, Arizona
In 2012, under new Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez, Matt Scott passed for more than 3000 yards and threw 21 touchdowns. His speed and mobility were near perfect fits for Rodriguez’s spread option offense, but his velocity and accuracy are his top selling points. Upsetting both Oklahoma State and preseason favorite USC, Scott lead the Wildcats into the top 25 rankings.
The Eagles may be conformed to the fact that their QB of the future is not available in this year’s draft (notice no QB first round pick) and may just want to add competition to get the best out of the stable they currently have. Either way, using a higher draft pick on a QB that they are not completely sold on would be a waste. If Scott does surprise and takes the starting QB spot from QB favorite Michael Vick, this pick then becomes a win-win for the Eagles (great value and QB of the future). Let the competition begin.
Seventh Round(1): Tharold Simon, Cornerback, LSU
Tharold Simon is a tall CB with good top end speed that excels in run support and does not shy away from contact. He has potential to match up one-on-one versus bigger NFL WRs but needs to improve his press technique. He does a very nice job of locating the ball in the air quickly and has a good closing burst just before the ball arrives.
The Eagles have seen major disappointments from their starting CB positions for some time now. Bringing in some much needed competition will help to turn around this position in the future.
Seventh Round (2): Brad Wing, Punter, LSU
Brad Wing is widely regarded as the second best P in this year’s draft. In my previous two mock drafts I’ve had the Eagles selecting the number one consensus pick from Louisiana Tech, Ryan Allen. However, using a pick later in the seventh round to grab a P means Allen may be taken at this point.
The Eagles today released P Mat McBriar and signed P Donnie Jones to a one-year deal. Consistency from the P has eluded the Eagles for the past few seasons, maybe this competition will bring the best out of one of the two punters on the roster. May the best man win.
Seventh Round (3): Garrett Gilkey, Offensive Guard, Chadron State
Garrett Gilkey has an average height-weight combination for his position, though he does have below average top-end speed. Seen as average in pass and run blocking, he does need work on his footwork. Gilkey is a quick and effective second level and backside zone cut blocker. He has initial burst, balance and lateral quickness to develop into an effective zone blocker, which Kelly has been known to employ. This pick is keeping in the theme of competition and depth.
Seventh Round (4): Michael Mauti, Inside Linebacker, Penn State
A local prospect, Michael Mauti from Penn State, has exceptional instincts and play recognition. An above average tackler with above average gap discipline, Mauti can provide depth behind either ILB spot, presumably LBs DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks. With a new defensive front the Eagles will have two backup spots to fill for the ILB positions. Let the games begin.