With both the Senior Bowl and Combine in the books, we’ve reached a perfect time for an updated mock draft. As usual, we’ll go pick by pick to make sure we discuss each pick thoroughly enough, and as usual, we’re assuming I’m the GM, so I’m not making picks based off who I actually think will go where, but rather who I’d take with the slot. And no, no trade scenarios because they’re infinite.
Here’s a quick rundown of our draft so far: no. 1 Houston Texans (Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina), no. 2 St. Louis Rams (Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M), no. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars (Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville), no. 4 Cleveland Browns (Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M), no. 5 Oakland Raiders (Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn), no. 6 Atlanta Falcons (Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan), no. 7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson), no. 8 Minnesota Vikings (Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State), no. 9 Buffalo Bills (Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo), no. 10 Detroit Lions (Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M), no. 11 Tennessee Titans (Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA), no. 12 New York Giants (C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama), no. 13 St. Louis Rams (Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama), no. 14 Chicago Bears (Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri). no. 15 Pittsburgh Steelers (Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State), no. 16 Dallas Cowboys (Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt), no. 17 Baltimore Ravens (Eric Ebron, TE, UNC), no. 18 New York Jets (Marqise Lee, WR, USC), no. 19 Miami Dolphins (Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame), no. 20 Arizona Cardinals (Ra’Shede Hageman, DT/DE, Minnesota) and no. 21 Green Bay Packers (Lous Nix, NT, Notre Dame). With the 22nd pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the Philadelphia Eagles select?
Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn.
This was a really tough one because I desperately wanted to add a dynamic talent to our secondary, but the top three guys (Gilbert, Dennard and Clinton-Dix) are off the board, and there’s a big drop off to the second tier guys. With FS Malcolm Jenkins and CB Nolan Carroll added, we don’t have an elite secondary by any means but we should be improved in coverage, and we have good depth.
Yes, Calvin Pryor (Louisville) is on the board, the consensus second ranked safety of the class, but other analysts are a little more bullish on him than I. I view him more as an in-the-box safety, one who can make the highlight-reel hits, but struggles in coverage and playing in space. Round one is no place to take a player like that, especially in my twisted draft world. Early second round would be a place I’d take Pryor.
Other than secondary, a pass rushing OLB is our most pressing need. Connor Barwin isn’t an elite pass rusher and won’t ever be one. Brandon Graham is a bust and enters the last year of his deal. Trent Cole was solid for us last year with 8 sacks, but I’m cutting him after this season. His salary jumps from $5 million in 2014 to $10 million in ’15, $10.9 in ’16 and $13.9 in ’17. Oh, and he’s already 31 years old. This is where Ford comes in.
Ford is a very polished pass rusher who has the quick twitch muscle fibers you need to be an elite pass rusher, and has the hips and balance to really dip off the edge. He’s already developed an arsenal of mature pass rushing moves and shows keen awareness of when to use which. He gives a good punch, rushes half-man and has a nice counter inside. He doesn’t have elite size (6-foot 2, 244-pounds) and can sometimes be engulfed by massive tackles with long wingspans, but has enough athleticism and strength to combat that at the next level. He’s exactly the kind of playmaking edge rusher we need to take our 3-4 scheme to the next level.
Who else was considered here? Surprisingly, Brandin Cooks (WR, Oregon St.) and Odell Beckham (WR, LSU). Just a few weeks ago I never could’ve imagined a scenario where I thought Philly should look to WR in the draft, particularly with new deals for Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, and DeSean Jackson coming off a career year. But Jackson is now likely to be traded and Maclin is only running on a one-year deal (and is injury plagued), so a speedy playmaker like either Cooks or Beckham could be superb fits in Kelly’s multidimensional offense moving forward.