While we’re just two months past the 2022 NFL draft, pundits never seem to sleep. That’s the case for ESPN’s Matt Miller, who published a 2023 mock draft for the first 32 picks (ESPN+ subscribers only).
Miller’s selections for the Eagles 2023 mock draft, who in this scenario are picking 16 and 19, are interesting. They certainly help to fill positions that will become more scarce in 2023, but are they the right players that offer both instant production and plenty of upside? Let’s find out.
Another Young Lineman Is Added To The Trenches
Is it really an Eagles draft if the team doesn’t take a defensive lineman with their first pick? Now, normally I would be bemoaning the team going back to the DL well for the second straight year, but there’s some merit here.
Brandon Graham is 34 and coming off a major injury. He’s also set to hit free agency in 2023, making his future even more uncertain. Derek Barnett, the oft-underwhelming penalty machine, is signed for two years, but just 1.3 million is guaranteed in 2024. So there’s a possible scenario where two of the Eagles’ top three defensive ends are gone by this time next year, leaving only Josh Sweat.
Enter Clemson’s Myles Murphy. In 2021, Murphy put up a very solid eight sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss, totaling 39 total tackles and two forced fumbles. You like to see that production right off the bat, but there are some tangibles that make him more appealing.
“Murphy anchored the Clemson defensive line in 2021 with seven sacks while bouncing between end and tackle. With Bryan Bresee returning from injury, the 6-foot-5, 275-pound Murphy should see more action at end this season. He has a chance to dominate with his quickness off the edge.”
Considering the Eagles love to draft big men with surprising speed — just take a look at Jordan Davis — it’s no question Murphy will be high on Howie Roseman’s big board. Sports Illustrated’s NFL Draft FanNation took a closer look at Murphy, specifically highlighting his strength and versatility as pluses, along with his gradual improvement each year.
Murphy also offers plenty of youth – he’ll be 21 when the draft arrives. While some might be cautious of drafting players that could need extra seasoning before they come to fruition, it’ll always be favored over drafting older rookies in my book.
I think Murphy would be an excellent pick, and I wouldn’t be surprised it he perhaps played well enough to work his way out of the Eagles’ range and into the top-10. Georgia’s Nolan Smith and Notre Dame’s Isaiah Foskey could also be in play if the Birds feel strongly enough about EDGE here and Murphy’s unavailable.
Eagles 2023 Mock Draft , Philadelphia Solidifies The Secondary
Looking at CB, there are a number of pieces that are still set to help the Eagles over the long-term. Avonte Maddox won’t be a free agent until 2025, while Darius Slay is here to stay until 2024.
Of course, beyond Zach McPhearson, there isn’t too much to be excited about in terms of potential, and James Bradberry is set to be a free agent next offseason after signing a one-year deal. So finding a potential starting corner opposite Slay would be ideal with the second first-round pick.
The team does just that with South Carolina’s Cam Smith. As Miller explains, Smith — an All-SEC 2021 selection and PFF’s second-overall returning corner — offers an intriguing package of skills and could end up being one of the most well-rounded prospects in the draft.
“A big, 6-foot-1 cornerback with elite ball skills, Smith had 11 pass breakups and three interceptions last season. He’s also a willing and able tackler (41 total tackles). [Eli] Ricks and [Kelee] Ringo get the most hype, but Smith might be the most well-rounded cornerback in the nation. For the Eagles, this is about putting premium capital to inject youth into their secondary.”
Indeed, Smith’s stats — with a sparkling, FBS-best 89.7 coverage grade in 2021 — line up with his physique and tools. He also seems plenty confident in his abilities and intelligence needed to produce. “Bulls***” Smith told 247Sports when discussing PFF’s ranking of him. “There’s no corner who played better than me last year.”
Like Murphy, I think this would be a fantastic pick for the Eagles. Smith offers true starting cornerback potential, something we haven’t seen previously in high picks like Maddox or Rasul Douglas. I don’t think the Eagles would be getting someone like fellow Gamecock Jaycee Horn, but Smith offers his own unique skillset and potential, something I believe will make him more than serviceable.