After trading away what seemed to be the entire farm around this time last year in order to move up to the #2 overall pick in order to secure the drafting of franchise QB Carson Wentz, the Eagles would be without a 1st round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. They would only be so for a few months after they worked an improbable trade where they shipped Sam Bradford to Minnesota in return for a 1st round pick and conditional 4th rounder. Replenishing whatever draft capital they could remained a priority as you always want to provide a strong supporting cast for your young, franchise QB. It proved to workout.
As a rookie, Carson Wentz lead the Eagles to a 3-0 record, and looked very impressive in the process. However, the remainder of the season was filled with speed bumps as they jogged to a 7-9 record, finishing strong with wins over division rivals Dallas and New York in the final 2 weeks of the season.
While it turned out to be a disappointing season overall which included a 5 game losing streak, there were a lot of bright spots as well. For one, Carson Wentz looks to fit the bill as their franchise QB – another offseason to progress and a jolted supporting cast featuring the likes of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith will only do him good. Now that they’ve addressed their top priority in free agency, it’s time to turn to the 2017 NFL Draft as the Eagles look to continue to build and improve their young foundation of this team. With that being said, check out my full 7 round Philadelphia Eagles mock draft:
Round 1 (Pick 14): Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
After swinging and missing on their attempt to lure in coveted free agent corner A.J. Bouye, the Eagles address corner with their top pick in the draft and take advantage of this deep corner class early on. Year in and year out, corner remains a glaring weakness in Philadelphia, and they know that, which is why they select Gareon Conley right off the bat.
With the recent injury of Sidney Jones, the demand of corners in the 1st round will be even higher. While an RB like Cook or McCaffrey would be a tremendous addition to the offense, bringing in a guy like Conley who provides an instant upgrade and can start from day one is more necessary. He’s a complete corner with size, length, quick feet and ball skills – something they’ve been lacking in a corner since the Lito Sheppard/Sheldon Brown days.
Round 2 (Pick 43): Dion Dawkins, OL, Temple
The offensive line issues were evident in Philadelphia last season, which is why they are addressed with the first pick of Day 2. The Eagles covet those tackle-guard combo prospects, which is exactly what Dion Dawkins presents. Dawkins was a three-year starter at Temple, primary at left tackle, but offers services at guard as well as he proved in the Senior Bowl.
The New Jersey native out of Temple, the Eagles keep him close to home. Dawkins would likely be a plug-and-play at guard, but adds flexibility to kick out to right tackle. The plan in Philly is to shift Lane Johnson to the blindside once Jason Peters retires – Dawkins could be that guy to succeed Johnson on the right side.
Washington’s Joe Mathis is reportedly out for the year. He leads the *nation* in pass-rush productivity by an edge defender. pic.twitter.com/ZJ3OoI0xFy
— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) November 7, 2016
Round 3 (Pick 74): Joe Mathis, EDGE, Washington
A great value pick here as Day 2 winds down for the Eagles. Had it not been for a foot injury which forced him out midway through Washington’s Cinderella season, Mathis would’ve find himself perhaps going as early as Day 1 of the draft. Philadelphia is desperate for some pass rush depth – Mathis would provide that and could eventually develop into a consistent 6-8 sack producer off the edge as he’s gradually worked into the rotation as his health restores.
According to PFF, Mathis was leading the nation in pass rush productivity, among edge defenders, before his injury. Mathis is lightning quick off the line. If he can fully recover from the foot injury, the Eagles have found themselves tremendous value in the 3rd round.
PHI: 3rd RD (#96),
NE: 4th RD (#119), 4th RD (#139), 2018 5th RD
Round 3 (Pick 96): Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo
The Eagles pull the trigger here with their first draft day trade as they move up, ahead of all the compensatory picks in order to snag their young running back. You know the Patriots are prone to wheeling and dealing, especially as the draft progresses. New England receives a pair of 4th round picks along with a future 5th rounder in exchange for the 96th overall pick – they have a 3rd round compensation pick, so they wouldn’t bat an eye making this move. It hurts to give up a package of this magnitude for the Eagles, but they want to make sure they secure the running back they have their eye on. According to the ‘outdated’ NFL Draft Value Chart, this trade is fair.
While Hunt doesn’t have the makeup or “wow” factor of a feature back in today’s game, he brings a lot of quality traits to the table. To start, he runs with elite balance – the best you’ll see out of any running back in this draft class. He doesn’t go down easy and gives extreme effort on every touch. Hunt runs with tremendous ball security – fumbling only once his entire college career.
He’s not the fastest or biggest, but Hunt would provide the Eagles’ backfield with a do-it-all back who will be reliable for them. He adds much needed depth in the backfield and would allow them to take the workload off Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. Perhaps a Wendell Smallwood-Hunt tandem is in the works?
Round 5 (Pick 155): Charles Walker, DL, Oklahoma
After the 4th round in which the Eagles held no picks, they address their biggest need after prioritizing other holes earlier in the draft. With the departure of Bennie Logan, a big gap remains vacant on Philadelphia’s defensive line. Charles Walker battled concussions at Oklahoma and didn’t start many games, but he brings a lot of upside to the interior. During his stint with the Sooners, he has displayed a non-stop motor with surprising athleticism and potential against both the run and pass.
With Beau Allen likely to start alongside Fletcher Cox this season, the Eagles could really use more depth, and potentially an upgrade within the next couple of years. Walker has the potential, now he just needs to put it all together.
Round 6 (Pick 194): Jamari Staples, WR, Louisville
After signing the likes of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency, the Eagles can hold off on a WR until the graveyard shift hours of the draft. Jamari Staples was a key contributor in Lamar Jackson’s Heisman run this past season. Staples is a lengthy receiver at 6’3” with speed capable of testing defenses vertically. While he is a project, the Eagles have time to develop the former Louisville Cardinal with guys like Jeffery, Smith and Jordan Matthews ahead of him.
Round 7 (Pick 230): Sojourn Shelton, CB, Wisconsin
While I would like to see the Eagles double-dip on corners a bit earlier, that’s just not how the board falls. After drafting Conley in the first round, the Eagles will still be forced to start the likes of Jalen Mills, Ron Brooks and Dwayne Gratz. Let that sink in. That is never good, especially in a pass potent NFC East division.
Sojourn Shelton will be limited to the slot in the NFL due to his size. However, he has the foot quickness to make it work, coupled with excellent coverage skills. He’s not going to make any tackles or play physical; but if he mans his spot in the slot well, that will be worth the roster spot. His game is a bit similar to Brandon Boykin.