In South Philadelphia, coach Chip Kelly and GM Howie Roseman are gearing up for what may be the most important draft within the next five years. The 2014 NFL Draft class has been highly touted as one of the “deepest drafts in a while.”
With that being said, Thursday night marks the beginning of the 2014 draft. Both Kelly and Roseman realize how close the Eagles are to becoming a true contender in the NFC, and a solid draft may very well help the team go to the next level. Based off of needs and the lack of depth at various positions on the Eagles’ roster, I have constructed a seven-round mock draft as the Philadelphia Eagles.
Here are the picks:
Round 1 (22) – WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
Taking Cooks here would be ideal for the Eagles. After releasing Desean Jackson, the team needs to replace his playmaking ability. Replacing Jackson with Cooks would make total sense, given that Cooks would enter the league with far less baggage and has a good head on his shoulders. Not to mention, in just three seasons at OSU, Cooks racked up 3,272 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns. Add that to his 4.33 40-yard dash time and you have Desean Jackson 2.0.
Other options: WR Kelvin Benjamin FSU, WR Odell Beckham Jr. LSU, CB Bradley Roby OSU
Round 2 (54) – OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech
With the linebacking corps currently consisting of Trent Cole and DeMeco Ryans, it is clear that the Eagles need to bring in some youth at the linebacker position. Both Cole and Ryans are nearing the end of their productive years and will most likely be on their way out with the next two or three years. Along with that, Connor Barwin has been a very solid player on the outside, however he is an average pass rusher at best.
Jeramiah Attaochu has both the size and speed to succeed in the Billy Davis 3-4 defensive scheme as a strong side OLB. Attaochu sat down with the Eagles in a pre-draft visit earlier in the process. I believe that Attaochu has the skills and physical makeup to thrive in the NFL. If the Eagles were to snag Attaochu at 54, you might as well consider him another first round pick.
Other options: DE/OLB Kyle Van Noy BYU, WR Jarvis Landry LSU, S Jimmie Ward NIU
Round 3 (86) – DT Da’Quan Jones, Penn State
The pass rushing ability of a guy like Jones could make an immediate impact on the Eagles’ defense. Jones alongside Cedric Thorton, Fletcher Cox, and Bennie Logan would arguably give the Eagles the best up-and-coming defensive line.
Jones is projected to translate to a 5-technique defensive end in the Eagles’ current system, yet you could argue that because of his athleticism, pass rushing ability, and versatility, he could very easily play nose tackle. He was also a captain for the Nittany Lions during a very rough time in the program’s history. Bringing in more leaders and high character individuals seems to be the direction Roseman and Kelly are moving towards.
Other options: DE/OLB Cassius Marsh UCLA, S Craig Loston LSU, WR Josh Huff Oregon
Round 4 (122) – Dion Bailey, USC
You might be wondering, “why has this guy waited so long to draft a safety?” Let me explain.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Calvin Pryor, Jimmie Ward, and the rest of this safety class are talented, but the hype surrounding them is just that: hype. None of these safeties other than maybe Pryor really jump out at me. Sure, Pryor has the hitting ability, but Brandin Cooks in round one makes much more sense. The top safeties in this draft are a result of overhype.
Dion Bailey is a guy who in round four would be a great value pick. He is a guy who towards the end of his collegiate career finally started to grasp the concept of the safety position. He played both outside linebacker and safety in college. With the proper coaching, his future in Philadelphia could be very bright, and let’s not forget, Chip Kelly loves his PAC-12 guys.
Other options: RB Storm Johnson UCF, WR Davante Adams Fresno State, OG Charles Leno Boise State
Round 5 (162) – DE/OLB/TE Larry Webster, Bloomsburg
Webster is the most intriguing prospect in this year’s draft. At Bloomsburg, Webster was used as a tight end, defensive end, and outside linebacker. The questions remain, where do you play him and why do you take him?
Webster, who played basketball for four years before returning to the gridiron, is a freak athletically. His natural abilities allow him to succeed virtually anywhere on the field. Of course, every rookie has much to learn before it all comes together, but Webster could very well be a very good tight end or defensive end in the next few years. Because of that, I think Chip Kelly will take on the challenge of placing Webster in the right spot and turning him into a great NFL player.
Other options: CB Louchiez Purifoy UF, CB Aaron Colvin OU, WR Brandon Coleman Rutgers
Round 7 (237) – WR Shaquille Evans, UCLA
After building up the defensive depth through this draft, Kelly and Roseman will address the lack of depth at the wide receiver position. Taking Brandin Cooks in the first round replaces Desean Jackson, but what about the departure of Jason Avant and the lack of depth left in the receiving corps?
Shaq Evans is a great value pick in the final round and could be of great use to Nick Foles in the future. Evans, who stands at 6-foot-1, could be the big threat Eagles fans have been hoping for. Granted, 6-foot-1 is tall, but not huge. However, I believe Evans has enough size and ability to make an impact as a taller receiver on this team. His production in college was average, but we need to keep in mind that playing with a guy like Nick Foles and in an offense such as Chip Kelly’s, makes almost everyone better. I can see Evans being a solid contributor on the Eagles as a fourth receiver.
Other options: TE Jake Murphy Utah, OG Brian Clarke Bloomsburg, K Anthony Fera Texas
This draft has the ability to make or break the Eagles in the years to come. Round 1 begins Thursday May 8th at 8pm, Rounds 2-3 on Friday May 9th at 7pm, and Rounds 4-7 at 12pm on Saturday May 10th. You can catch the draft on ESPN or on the NFL Network.