*Pre-Free Agency mock draft*
Round 1: Justin Jefferson-WR (LSU)
Measurements: 6’1, 202 pounds
Justin Jefferson aligned at wide receiver for the LSU Tigers in 2019. Jefferson was aligned in the slot during the 2019 season. Former LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady’s reasoning for aligning Jefferson inside was mainly due to Jefferson being LSU’s main passing target and his reliability as a route runner and catching ability. The main thing Jefferson brings to the table is versatility, as he is able to line up in the slot and at outside receiver and produce in either role. One of the knocks against Jefferson was that he mainly operated out of the slot however, Jefferson aligned on the outside in 2018 and put up 854 yards for 6 touchdowns on 16.2 yards per catch vs. 2019 when he aligned in the slot and had 111 catches for 1540 yards and 18 touchdowns on 13.9 yards per catch. The notion that Jefferson is purely a slot wide receiver is over-exaggerated and quite frankly a lazy narrative. He is a polished route runner, tough after the catch and he has a sneaky second gear with the ball in his hands. With Nelson Agholor not expected to be back next season, Jefferson can offer the Eagles much needed reliability and versatility at the receiver position and would be a nice piece to add to Doug Pederson’s offense.
Round 2: Antoine Winfield Jr. – Safety (Minnesota)
Measurements: 5’10, 203 pounds
Antoine Winfield Jr. is a truly elite ball-hawking safety who is the son of former NFL Pro-Bowl cornerback, Antoine Winfield. Winfield Jr is and extremely instinctive and tough player. A true ball-hawking safety, Winfield Jr snagged 7 interceptions and had 62 tackles in 2019. As a tackler Winfield Jr is a intense finisher who is a threat to punch the ball out as he forced 2 fumbles in 2019. Winfield Jr offers great versatility as he played 399 snaps as the deep safety, 283 snaps in the box and 85 snaps out of the nickel in 2019 for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, according to Pro Football Focus. However, as with every player Winfield Jr does have his negatives, two in particular. Athletic ability (long speed specifically) and injuries, as in both 2017 and 2018 Winfield Jr suffered season ending foot (2018) and hamstring (2019) injuries. However in 2019, Winfield Jr played every game of the college football season. With the Eagles, Winfield Jr can step in and immediately fill free agent to be, Rodney McLeod’s role as the free safety.
Round 3:Troy Pride Jr-Cornerback (Notre Dame)
Measurements: 5’11, 193 pounds
Troy Pride Jr is a very quick corner who is good in press man and off man coverage as well as effective in zone coverage. With the speed and hip fluidity to stick with deep threats, Pride Jr possesses a very good skill set. Pride Jr’s coverage ability during his senior season was outstanding as he allowed just 32 catches for 327 yards. Pride Jr has great coverage skills however he struggles with ball skills and being out-physicaled down the field as Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly said,”He’s got great speed, but he’s got to show himself downfield.” Pride Jr’s coaching will be huge for his development at the next level. The Eagles newly hired secondary coach Marquand Manuel has a track record of being able to develop and bring the best out of young corners as seen in his time in Atlanta and as an assistant in Seattle with the Legion of Boom.
3rd Round Compensatory Pick: Leki Fotu-Defensive Tackle (Utah)
Measurements: 6’5, 330 pounds
Leki Fotu is an absolute mountain of a man. At 6’5, 330 Fotu made his name at the University of Utah as a run stuffing defensive tackle. With his size, blocking Fotu one on one isn’t the best strategy. From his upper body strength and his ability to flat out move men to his explosiveness off the line of scrimmage, adding Fotu to a defensive tackle rotation already consisting of Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson would be a nightmare for opposing offensive lines. While run stuffing is Fotu’s money maker, his pass rushing ability is what will cause him to drop on draft day. Fotu put up only 4.5 sacks in four years at Utah. At his size that number should be much higher but there’s one reason it isn’t: leverage. Fotu’s great if he can get his hands on the lineman first however, over the course of his career at Utah, he struggled mightily. The strength is there but the technique and pass rush ability is lacking. A good positional coach will do wonders for Fotu at the pro level.
Round 4: Davion Taylor-Linebacker (Colorado)
Measurements: 6’0, 228 pounds
The athleticism oozes of the screen when watching Davion Taylor. Speed, coverage ability and instincts are all there with Taylor. When doing research into Taylor the one thing that kept coming up was the potential he has and how raw he is right now. Taylor has all the tools, from his competitiveness to his athletic ability, it will take the right coach to help him put it all together. Luckily, Taylor fits exactly what Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz likes in a linebacker: fast, can cover and not shy in terms of physicality when making tackles. Davion Taylor has all the athletic ability needed as seen from his 4.49 40 yard dash at the combine and 4.39 40 time at his pro day. Time will tell if he can put it all together as he is a true project player with a very high ceiling.
4th Round Compensatory Pick: AJ Dillon-Running Back (Boston College)
Measurements: 6’0, 247 pounds
Two words: Freight. Train. At 247 pounds AJ Dillon is a true power back and the perfect compliment next to Miles Sanders speed and shifty style of running. Dillon is a powerful back with nice vision and sneaky speed. Rushing for 1685 yards and 14 touchdowns on 12 starts in 2019, Dillon’s talent was on full display as Boston College’s 3-down back. As mentioned, Dillon’s power as a runner is his calling card but he posses a sneaky speed shown through his 4.53 40 time at the NFL combine. At his size that time is freakish. Working with Eagles running backs coach, Duce Staley and running behind the Eagles great run blocking offensive line, Dillon would be in a great situation on field and in the developmental aspect of the game.
4th Round Compensatory Pick: Jake Hanson-Center (Oregon)
Measurements: 6’4, 295 pounds
Jake Hanson is finesse oriented center who is a bit undersized. Hanson relies on athleticism to be effective as a blocker. And effective he was, as he didn’t allow a sack in his first 3 years starting at Oregon. Hanson will need to add strength at the next level to be effective though. With the Eagles, Hanson would be in a position where he wouldn’t have to play right away and could work with the best offensive line coach in the NFL, Jeff Stoutland and he’d also be able to learn from a fellow undersized center and one of the best centers in the NFL, Jason Kelce.
Round five: Alohi Gilman-Safety (Notre Dame)
Measurements: 5’10, 201 pounds
Alohi Gilman is a bit undersized at safety who makes up for his lack of size with aggressiveness and effort. Gilman is effective when used as a blitzer and is average in man and zone coverage. He is a very physical player who can immediately contribute on special teams in his first couple years. Gilman is a very versatile player who can cover receivers out of the slot and play near the line as a blitzer and he is an absolute menace as a run defender. With the Eagles, Gilman would most likely be used primarily on special teams in his first few seasons and could even fill the 3rd safety role in Jim Schwartz’s defense.
5th Round Compensatory Pick: Jeff Thomas-Wide Receiver (Miami)
Measurements: 5’10, 170 pounds
Speed, speed, speed and more speed.
Jeff Thomas is a very talented playmaking deep threat who can be used on the outside, in the slot, on jet sweeps and on screens (*Doug Pederson’s eyes light up*). Thomas averaged 15.9 yards per catch in 3 seasons at Miami. However, Thomas does come with some character concerns as he was kicked off the team in 2018, reinstated and then suspended for 2 games last season. However, the Eagles have shown in the past that they will take players with character concerns in the later rounds if the value is there.
Round 6: Bryce Perkins-Quarterback (Virginia)
Measurements: 6’3, 216 pounds
Bryce Perkins is a quarterback with great size and mobility however, his accuracy needs development. His running ability offers coaching versatility in play design down the road. Perkins completed 64.5% of his passes and threw for 3538 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also rushed for 769 yards and 11 touchdowns. With the Eagles Perkins would most ideally be the backup quarterback for Carson Wentz in about 2-3 years. Perkins is a very talented quarterback who, with development can become pretty good at the next level.