Mel Kiper Jr.’s NFL Mock Draft 1.0 has Eagles’ Adding to Both Offense and Defense
With the Eagles loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, draft season is officially here.
ESPN draft guru, Mel Kiper Jr., released his first NFL mock draft, with the Eagles making picks at No. 15, 16 and 19.
Eagles fans seem torn on what to do with the picks: use all three to upgrade the defense, add a quarterback, find another wide receiver, all options seem like fine ways to add to this roster.
Lets see which three talents he thinks the Philadelphia Eagles should select in this years draft.
First up at No. 15, he has the Eagles doing something they haven't done since 1979, take a linebacker in the first-round, selecting Utah's Devin Lloyd.
This is the first of three Eagles picks in the next five, this one coming from the Dolphins in last March's order-busting trade. And I know that some folks are going to connect Philly with a quarterback, but I'm not buying that; Jalen Hurts earned the 2022 job by his play down the stretch, even if he didn't have a great playoff game. This team needs more talent on defense, so that's where I'm going with the first two of these picks.
I had to dive deep back into my research to find the last time the Eagles took a linebacker in Round 1, going all the way back to Jerry Robinson in 1979. I was 18 years old at the time of that draft. This is both a need and value pick, as Lloyd is coming off a tremendous season. I've compared him to Tampa Bay's Devin White -- he's an off-ball linebacker with speed, versatility, range and run-and-hit ability. He had eight sacks and four picks last season. This would be a major boost to the Philly D.
The junior is a do-it-all linebacker, with 107 tackles, eight sacks, six passes defended, four interceptions, two touchdowns, and one forced fumble in 2021.
With the very next pick, Kiper has the Eagles staying on the defensive side of the ball, taking a familiar name in the region, former Temple Owl and Penn State edge rusher Arnold Ebiketie.
The Eagles finished the regular season with wins in six of their final eight games powered by their running game, but again, this defense showed several holes. One of those was the pass rush -- they finished 31st in the league in sacks with just 29, 11 of those coming from the tackle duo of Javon Hargrave and Fletcher Cox. I see edge rusher as a priority, even if 2017 first-rounder Derek Barnett, a free agent this offseason, returns to the team. He has never quite put together a consistent season, and he had just two sacks in 2021. So let's use the pick from the Carson Wentz trade on a rising pass-rusher.
Ebiketie, a transfer from Temple, is coming off a stellar season for the Nittany Lions. He had 9.5 sacks, 19 total tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. He has long arms and is explosive at the snap, and he's strong enough to set the edge in the run game. I'm a big fan.
Ebiketie accounted for 19 tackles for loss, , 9.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles last season in Happy Valley. He could be the kind of explosive, playmaking edge rusher the team has been lacking.
Finally at No. 19, Kiper has the team giving Jalen Hurts another weapon in the offense, adding Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave.
Let's finish out the Eagles' picks with another wide receiver, which would make back-to-back-to-back drafts that Philly went wideout in Round 1. This is still an issue, though. DeVonta Smith had a good rookie season and looks to be the clear No. 1, but 2020 first-rounder Jalen Reagor underwhelmed and might never be more than a decent third option. Going back to the 2019 draft, the Eagles took J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in Round 2, but he has just 16 catches over three seasons. Jalen Hurts has to get some more help.
Olave was a touchdown machine at Ohio State -- he had 35 in four seasons -- and he's one of the best deep threats in this class. At 6-foot-1, he can play inside or outside. He's a player who looks better and better when you watch all of his snaps in a game, because even if he didn't catch 10 passes, he was always open.
Those who have seen Olave know he's a tremendous route runner, with great speed and hands. He also has a knack for finding the end zone, ending his career as Ohio State's all-time leader in career touchdown receptions.
The NFL Draft is April is April 28-30 and can be heard on 97.3 ESPN and the 97.3 ESPN free mobile app.