Eagles trade up for defensive difference maker in mock draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
With two picks in the top 20 the Eagles have the chance to reshape their roster for years to come. Howie Roseman said they already have their trade contingencies in order, and one of them gets enacted in my final mock draft.
1. Jaguars – Travon Walker, DE, Georgia
I’ll stick with the betting favorite who wowed at the combine. Walker didn’t exactly have first overall pick production, but the Jags bet big on his athletic profile. Since 2008, Jacksonville has only drafted two Pro Bowlers in the first round: Jalen Ramsey and Josh Allen. That’s despite 13 of their 16 first round picks being made in the top 10. It seems almost impossible to miss every year with picks that high. Doug Pederson sure hopes they get this one right.
2. Lions – Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
The hometown kid gives the Lions another foundational piece to build with. He’s got everything you’d want in a player picked this high: Tape, production, and measurables.
3. Texans – Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
I’m not buying into the idea of Thibodeaux’s slide. He’s too athletic and productive to drop in the draft. There are rumors he hasn’t interviewed well with teams. His tape does enough talking to back up taking him 3rd overall.
4. Jets – Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Perhaps the cleanest prospect in the draft. A three-year starter for a high-level program. He was a complete shutdown corner, allowing 0 touchdowns during his college career. “Sauce” gives the Jets a true blue-chip player at a premium position who will bring back memories of Darrelle Revis.
5. Giants – Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State
Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen are taking over a mess of a roster in New York and it will surely be a slow build. Taking the top tackle in the draft gives them a rock-solid building block as they try to restore some shine to the Giants franchise.
6. Panthers – Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Matt Rhule and the Panthers have thrown themselves at every available high-end quarterback in the past two offseasons only to come up empty. Despite the head coach’s seat getting hotter, there’s no need to force it when there just aren’t franchise-changing signal callers available. Neal will lock down the blindside for whoever ends up taking snaps in Carolina.
7. Giants (via Bears) – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Another foundational piece to build Big Blue back better. Hamilton is arguably the most talented player in the class, and while safety isn’t the most important position, he’s enough of a difference maker to be worthy of a top-10 selection.
8. Falcons – Jermaine Johnson, DE, Florida State
The Falcons need just about everything, but they were dead last in the NFL in sacks last season with a paltry 18. Enter the 2021 ACC defensive player of the year, who racked up 12 sacks for Florida State. Johnson is a touch old at 23, having traveled a path that took him from junior college to Georgia and eventually FSU.
9. Seahawks (via Broncos) – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
The Seahawks currently do not have a starting-caliber left or right tackle on their roster. Cross comes from Mike Leach’s air-raid system which produced Eagles 2019 first rounder Andre Dillard. He’s got plenty of polish as a pass blocker but could use work in the run game.
10. Jets (via Seahawks) – Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
The Jets went big-game hunting for receivers in the offseason. They missed out on Tyreek Hill, but they land a true game-breaker in Williams. His one year at Alabama was dominant, despite tearing his ACL in the National Championship Game. He’ll give Zach Wilson a field stretcher for years to come.
11. Commanders – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Washington’s brass seems dead set on trying to get back to the postseason (even if their trip in 2020 came with a 7-9 record). With Ron Rivera at the helm, they are in go-for-it mode, hence the trade for Carson Wentz and his $28M cap hit. Wilson gives their new QB a much-needed weapon to pair with fellow Buckeye Terry McLaurin.
12. Vikings – Derek Stingley, CB, LSU
Minnesota is stuck in purgatory. They’re paying Kirk Cousins nearly $75M over the next two years with no real path to major improvement. But adding a top-shelf talent like Stingley to a rebuilding defense will surely help.
13. TRADE: Eagles (via Texans, via Browns) – Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
There are 10 players I view as elite-level difference makers for the Eagles in this draft at positions of need. With the first 9 already off the board and the Ravens looming at pick 14, Howie Roseman makes the first of what will likely be many moves over the weekend, shipping the 15th and 101st picks to move up two spots. It’s almost a mirror-image of their deal to move up from 12 to 10 with the Cowboys one year ago that landed them DeVonta Smith.
Davis gives the Eagles a succession plan behind Fletcher Cox and will play plenty in one year in a rotation that also features pro bowler Javon Hargrave. Davis won the Chuck Bednarik Award in 2021 as the nation’s best defensive player. Considering how the Eagles deploy their defensive personnel in early downs, he’ll allow them to stop the run without committing extra defenders. He moves too well and is too big not to become a factor in affecting the quarterback. The pass rush upside makes him a game-changer.
14. Ravens – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
After missing out on Davis, Baltimore settles for a guy on the opposite end of the size spectrum. McDuffie is on the small side for a corner but played at a high level for the Huskies.
15. TRADE Steelers (via Texans via Eagles via Dolphins) – Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
The Texans continue to accumulate picks as they trade down once again. With the Saints holding two of the next four picks, the Steelers decide it’s too risky to sit back. They make a move up to secure their future under center. Willis has the best tool kit of any QB prospect in the draft.
16. Saints (via Eagles via Colts) Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
I’m still not exactly sure what motivated the Saints to trade a 2023 first rounder (plus a 3rd rounder this year and a 2nd rounder in 2024) to get an additional first-rounder this year. But the biggest hole on their roster is at tackle following the departure of Terron Armstead. Penning fills that massive void.
17. Chargers – Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia
A popular landing spot for Jordan Davis, the Chargers fallback plan is his running mate in the trenches. Wyatt is already 24 years old but for a team trying to maximize their chances to win while Justin Herbert is on his rookie deal, the age is irrelevant.
18. Eagles (via Saints) – Drake London, WR, USC
I think the Eagles are very open to trading out of the 18th pick, but if another big body with freakish athletic traits like London is still there, they’ll pounce. His stats on paper look good: 88 catches, 1,084 yards and 7 touchdowns. And that production came in only eight games! For those who say he’s just a jump ball receiver, I’m not sure how you put up 11 catches and 135 yards per week on just 50/50 balls.
The big unknown with London is his lack of timed speed. He didn’t run at the combine or his pro day, but he looks fast enough on film. He’s got a huge frame at 6-3, 220 pounds and a basketball background, having played both sports at USC. While I don’t think you have to have complementary skill sets among your receivers, he offers an element the rest of the room doesn’t.
Howie Roseman’s drafts often seem to have themes. Over the years they’ve focused on college production, “loving ball,” or last year’s effort to find trend-setters for a new era of Eagles football. With Davis and London, it’s clear the focus is on elite traits in elite frames.
19. Saints (via Eagles) – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
New Orleans fills its other biggest need, finding a playmaker to go opposite a returning Michael Thomas. If Jameis Winston can stay upright he should put up huge numbers. How many wins will be another story, and one the Eagles will be monitoring extremely closely.
20. TRADE Texans (via Steelers) – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
After moving down twice from the 13th pick to the 15th pick, the Texans settle in at pick 20 and add the best linebacker in the draft to pair with Kayvon Thibodeaux. They were the two best players in the Pac-12 in 2021 and will team up in Houston to anchor Lovie Smith’s defense.
21. Patriots – Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson
Bill Belichick watched JC Jackson leave for the Chargers but fills the void with a pro bowler in the making. Booth recently had sports hernia surgery, or he’d probably hear his name called even earlier.
22. Packers (via Raiders) – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
The Packers finally take a receiver in the first round for the first time in the Aaron Rodgers era. Burks is a huge yards after catch threat who didn’t time as fast as he looks on tape.
23. Cardinals – George Karlavtis, DE, Purdue
After losing future Hall of Famer Chandler Jones in free agency, Arizona brings in Karlavtis to bolster their pass rush. He’s got a high motor and could learn plenty playing opposite JJ Watt.
24. Cowboys – Zion Johnson, G, Boston College
No team has hit on more first round picks since 2010. In fact, 8 of Dallas’ last 11 first rounders have made a Pro Bowl, and six have a first-team All-Pro to their name. That doesn’t include CeeDee Lamb, who surely looks the part himself. Johnson seems like a solid bet to continue that run of success.
25. Bills – Arnold Ebiketie, DE, Penn State
Buffalo added Von Miller but you can never have too many pass rushers. Ebiketie, a Temple transfer, hails from the same hometown in Cameroon as 76ers star Joel Embiid. The production was top-notch during his one season at State College, racking up 9.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss.
26. Titans – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
The big surprise of Round 1. The Titans are a team trying to get to a Super Bowl but they’ve been held back in postseason by Ryan Tannehill, whether they want to admit it or not. Pickett falls into their laps this late in round one and they take a swing. He doesn’t offer elite upside but he could be a much cheaper and reliable option.
27. Buccaneers – Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
After losing Jordan Whitehead in free agency, Todd Bowles gets himself another free safety to roam the back end. Hill can also play the slot and would add to the Bucs already ridiculous team speed on defense.
28. Packers – Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
Green Bay addressed their need at receiver at No. 22 and opt for a straight luxury pick here with Dean. He’s a bit undersized but can run from sideline-to-sideline. The Packers already have De’Vondre Campbell in the middle of their defense, but Dean gives them another heat-seeking missile.
29. Chiefs (via Dolphins via 49ers) – Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
A close enough facsimile of Tyreek Hill that he should be able to replace some of the production. Dotson will pair with Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Juju Smith-Schuster to give the Chiefs more weapons are receiver.
30. Chiefs – Kaair Elam, CB, Florida
The Chiefs haven’t really had a top-flight cornerback since Marcus Peters way back in 2017. Elam has the traits to become a special player for Andy Reid.
31. Bengals – Kenyon Green, OG, Texas A&M
The Bengals have already spent a ton of money to upgrade their offensive line this offseason. Green gives them a versatile piece to help protect Joe Burrow.
32. Lions (via Rams) – Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
Ridder has flown a bit under the radar during the pre-draft process, but he might have the best combination of ability, intangibles, and upside. By using the last pick in the first round the Lions get him under team control for five years.
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