Mock draft: Eagles load up defensively in first two rounds

Posted on March 30, 2021 - Last Updated on March 31, 2021

With the NFL draft less than a month away, mock draft season is in full force. Today I used FanSpeak’s mock draft simulator, with the obvious goal of putting together the best draft possible.

The end result saw solid bolsters to both the offense and defense. The Birds walked away with quite the haul, which includes a stud corner, a promising linebacker, and two wide receivers with unique skillsets that could thrive in the NFL.

Round 1, Pick #12: CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina

By the time I was set to pick, many of my targets were off the board: Kyle Pitts went to the Cowboys at 10, and Devonta Smith went to the Giants at 11. Patrick Surtain II was still on the board, but I decided to go with a guy who’s been gaining a lot of hype: Jaycee Horn.

(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Horn is everything you want in a cornerback prospect. He’s young (21). He has a solid height at 6’0″. He’s fast, having ran a 4.39 40-yd dash time at his pro day (along with a 41.5″ vertical and 11’1″ broad jump). listed some of Horn’s other strengths, which include being able to play in multiple schemes, being an “underrated blitzer,” and playing to his size in coverage.

With so many talented receivers in the NFC East like Kenny Golladay, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Terry McLaurin, Horn and Darius Slay would finally give the Eagles the talented cornerback duo they’ve always lacked.

Round 2, Pick #5: LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa

If you’re a constant reader of mine, you know that I pound the table for linebackers whenever I get the chance. So I was giddy to grab Collins (who I view as a late first-rounder) in the early second.

Collins, an All-American, had a great 2020 season. He put up 54 tackles, four sacks, four interceptions, and two forced fumbles.

He has the makings of a great all-around defender. Pro Football Network noted his “explosiveness,” ability to make plays in space, and his talent as a rusher.

Round 3, Pick #6: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC

UNC’s Dyami Brown and USC’s Amon-Ra St. Brown were both players I was considering here. I ultimately went with St. Brown, not only because of the cool name (are we sure this guy isn’t some half-Egyptian god, half-saint?) but because I feel he’d bring a lot to the offense.

St. Brown’s production dipped mightily from 2019 to 2020, but he has the skills needed to succeed, as PFN explains:

“He’s a reliable playmaking receiver with natural hands and terrific speed. St. Brown possesses the ability to be a No. 1 at the next level, yet must stay focused and consistently play a high level.”

Round 3, Pick #20: WR Nico Collins, Michigan

I decided to double-dip at wide receiver in the third round, and had two choices in front of me: Louisville’s Tutu Atwell and Michigan’s Nico Collins. Atwell has the potential to be DeSean Jackson-esque, but his size (5’9″, 165 pounds) concerns me, which led me to Collins.

Collins just had a great pro-day. He ran for a 4.43 40-yard dash time, impressive numbers considering his size (6’4″, 215 pounds). That size and how Collins uses it is what made me fall in love with him as a prospect (via CBS Sports):

“Massive frame and he uses it well to box out defenders in contested-catch situations; One of the longest athletes at WR — a 7-foot-9 wingspan — and it shows up in his game; Very strong hands at the catch point and a natural hands catcher.”

Obviously there are concerns: Collins sat out in 2020, he had middling stats in college, etc. But the Eagles need a big bodied wide receiver who can block out and grab those jump balls.

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Round 4, Pick #18: DT Tyler Shelvin, LSU

Currently, Philly’s backup defensive tackles are T.Y. McGill, Raequon Williams, and Hassan Ridgeway. I felt this group could use some more depth, which is why I went for Tyler Shelvin in the fourth.

Shelvin is massive at 6’3″ and a whopping 345 pounds. PFN mentions that Shelvin attracts plenty of double teams, and has powerful hands to shake off offensive linemen. While his size limits his speed, Shelvin would be a solid rotational piece.

Round 5, Pick #6: RB Trey Sermon, OSU

The 6’1″ Sermon ran for 870 yards and four touchdowns in his senior year at Ohio State. As PFN notes, Sermon was never a “workhorse” in college, but highlighted the potential of his utility and transition to the NFL.

The Eagles already have Miles Sanders in hand, but they need another back to rotate with Boston Scott. Sermon would work well in that role.

Round 6, Pick #5: CB Marco Wilson, Florida

I felt it would be smart to add another corner into the mix. The Draft Network explains that Wilson has experience at both outside and at slot (versatility always a plus), and also brings a lot of value as a blitzer.

Round 6, Pick #40: OLB Jamar Watson, Kentucky

Even with the addition of Collins, one more linebacker wouldn’t hurt. Watson racked up 18.5 sacks over his college career, including 11.5 in the final two seasons. FanNation highlighted Watson’s speed and talent in space.

Round 6, Pick #41: OT Will Fries, Penn State

Fries is versatile: he’s started 26 games at right tackle, nine at left tackle, six at right guard, and one at left guard. Fries also never missed a game from 2017 to 2020. That’s appealing to a team that saw injuries at almost every offensive line position.

Round 7, Pick #6: TE Noah Grey, Duke

Zach Ertz hasn’t been traded or cut yet, but the assumption is that he will. Even if the Eagles sign a backup TE, they’ll still need a third-stringer. Noah Grey from Duke would fit nicely there.

Grey didn’t have the most offensive showing (he had just 285 yards last season) but his size (6’4″, 285 pounds) could make him an ideal blocking tight end.

Round 7, Pick #12: QB Feleipe Franks, Arkansas

Feleipe Franks actually has a connection to the Eagles, which is that he played under new QB coach Brian Johnson at Florida in 2018.

That ended up being Franks’ best year in college, as he had a 24-6 TD/INT line with 2,457 yards thrown. With Joe Flacco set to be QB2, there’s room to add a project.

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Drew Rhoades

If there’s one thing you need to know about Drew Rhoades, it’s that he knows Philadelphia sports. A graduate from Saint Joseph’s University, Rhoades has previously written about Hawk sports for The Hawk Newspaper and covered baseball at Phillies Nation. In his spare time, he loves to volunteer at his local animal shelter and bike.

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