The NFL draft is three months away and with the Eagles 2021-22 season in the books, the organization will be tasked with infusing the roster with youth and talent in the offseason.
The organization will have ample ammunition to breathe life into a roster that amassed a 9-8 record along with a playoff appearance in 2021. In The Philly Blitz’ first mock draft of the offseason, I attempted to do just that.
Round 1 – Pick 15: Tyler Linderbaum (C), Iowa
Need a potential Jason Kelce replacement? Tyler Linderbaum is the guy for the Eagles. He’s one of the more talented players in this entire draft class, regardless of position. Linderbaum excels in zone blocking or man/gap schemes. Linderbaum also excels when he’s able to get up into the second level on running plays.
Originally tweeted by Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) on January 22, 2022.
With the Eagles, Linderbaum can be seen as a sort of carbon-copy of sure fire Hall-of-Famer, Jason Kelce. From skillset to size (Linderbaum: 6’3 – 290, Kelce: 6’3 – 282), the comparability is strikingly evident. Also like Kelce, Linderbaum isn’t the biggest or the strongest, but he plays with immense smarts, effort, and toughness.
Depending on what Jason Kelce ultimately decides, concerning retirement or sticking around another year, Linderbaum could potentially find himself red-shirting his rookie year.
Round 1 – Pick 16: DeMarvin Leal (DT/DE), Texas A&M
Trenches, trenches, and more trenches.
DeMarvin Leal is the living, breathing embodiment of versatility in a defensive lineman. He’s played every alignment along the defensive line and has been impactful from each, registering 133 total tackles and 25 tackles for loss across 3 seasons at Texas A&M. The thing I love the most about Leal is his motor. He’s relentless in his pursuit whether as a pass rusher or run defender. He also has a plethora of pass rush moves at his disposal, with the spin, swim, or rip moves.
The Eagles desperately need help along the defensive line with the likely departure of former 1st-round pick, Derek Barnett and veteran DE Brandon Graham not getting any younger. Leal reinforces the Eagles philosophy of building through the trenches and adds to an already versatile defensive line featuring last season’s 3rd-round pick, Milton Williams.
Round 1 – Pick 19: Roger McCreary (CB), Auburn
The Eagles will most likely need to fill the number two cornerback spot, with Steven Nelson’s impending free agency. The next few options on the roster are Avonte Maddox, who thrived in the slot in 2021, Zech McPhearson, and a host of young defensive backs who likely aren’t ready to be true starters on the outside at this point in their careers.
McCreary would give the Eagles a legit corner opposite Darius Slay. The 6’0 – 190 pound cornerback is as exceptional athlete, who plays a physical brand of football, whether in coverage or run support. In press man he excels, due to the physicality-speed combination he possesses.
Watch McCreary in coverage vs. Jameson Williams and John Metchie earlier in the season, he stuck with them on deep routes and was constantly in phase with them on short to intermediate routes as well.
Round 2 – Pick 51: David Bell (WR), Purdue
David Bell has every tool you could want in a starting NFL receiver. This isn’t a one trick pony or a guy who needs manufactured touches to be effective. He has the size, ability to win one-on-ones with his route running, effectiveness with his releases, speed after the catch and hands.
One of the things I routinely look for with receivers is spatial awareness and the understanding of leverage and positioning. Bell has that in a major way. He displays the ability to sell stems (vertical, in-breaking, etc.) before changing direction. Bell’s body control is another trait that makes him a very intriguing potential pick for the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles wide receiver group consists of (future All-Pro) DeVonta Smith, a very capable Quez Watkins, and the rest of the room. The Eagles struggled to get production out of any receiver not named Smith or Watkins. David Bell changes that. The 6-foot-2, 203 pound receiver would give Jalen Hurts a much-needed reliable target opposite Smith.
Round 3 – Pick 83: Chad Muma (LB), Wyoming
In Chad Muma, the Eagles land a day one starter.
He plays an aggressive downhill style of football. As a converted safety, Muma’s lateral agility and athleticism is a huge plus. However, unlike most converted safeties (Cough, Nate, cough Gerry), Muma plays with great pursuit and strength at the point of attack. Muma led the nation in solo tackles and total tackles in 2021. His ability to fight through blocks and get to the ball carrier in the run game is uncanny.
Muma has regularly displayed the ability to be productive in coverage. He was able to snag three interceptions (two of which resulted in touchdowns) during his senior season. He isn’t the most fluid mover in pass coverage, but he definitely isn’t the stiffest either.
He’s a very instinctive football player and with his past as a safety, Muma is able to handle running backs and tight ends in man coverage. He has also displayed the ability to get depth and diagnose in zone. While Muma makes his money as an attacking run defender, he has an array of tools in his arsenal that help him against the pass as well.
In many ways, the 6-foot-3, 242 pound Muma has a natural feel for the game. That same ‘natural feel’ of sorts has been absent from the Eagles linebacker room for some time. With how decisive Jonathan Gannon asked his linebackers to be in 2021, adding Muma would give the Eagles a true thumper and a relentless finisher at the point of attack.
Round 4 – Pick 120: Zamir White (RB), Georgia
Zamir ‘Zeus’ White has the chance to be one of the biggest steals of the 2022 NFL draft. The 6-foot-1, 216 pound White is the definition of ‘see-hole, hit-hole.’ White possesses an incredible speed-power combination. He’s earned the nickname Zeus by consistently slamming through tackles and shifting into 2nd gear at the drop of a dime. White struggles as a pass catcher, but his effectiveness as a runner, more than makes up for what he lacks as a pass catcher.
Although the Eagles drafted Kenny Gainwell a year ago, White compliments a Sanders-Gainwell room quite nicely. As a more decisive runner, White is a far cry from the cut-happy Miles Sanders. He’d operate as a high-quality change of pace style back with feature back upside down the line.
Round 5 – Pick 152: Bryan Cook (S), Cincinnati
You want physicality at the safety position? Bryan Cook brings that and more. The 6-foot-1, 203 pound safety is athletic chess piece. Cook has moved all over the field in his time at Cincinnati and he’s been effective. He’s aligned as a single high safety, two high safety, in the slot, and down in the box. He racked up 96 total tackles as a senior, along with 9 pass break-ups.
This guy is a versatile and physical animal. He’s been described as a ‘tone setter’ of sorts for the Bearcats defense, and I can’t help but agree. Cook’s story is sort of evident through his play-style. Cook received one full-ride scholarship out of high school, to Howard University. That lack of interest of sorts created a chip on his shoulder, and it’s evident through the hard hitting and physicality with which he plays the game of football.
He plays with high football IQ and is quick to diagnose and trigger based on what he sees. His technique in run support is his best trait. At times he opts for the big ‘thumper-like’ hit but he routinely wraps up and drives the ball carrier into the ground.
The Eagles safety room as currently constructed features two free agents in Rodney McLeod and Anthony Harris, Marcus Epps, standout special teamer Andre Chachere, and former late round pick K’Von Wallace. I fully expect the Eagles to go out and sign a safety in free agency (Jabrill Peppers or Justin Reid are my top 2 candidates), but Cook would be a nice addition to the room.
Round 5 – Pick 160: Troy Andersen (LB), Montana State
Troy Andersen is versatility personified. During his time at Montana State, Andersen has played QB, RB, and LB. He’s entering the draft as a linebacker but he can very well, be used on offense as well. Andersen has produced wherever he’s lined up at, amassing over 1,700 rushing yards along with 28 rushing touchdowns over his collegiate career.
As a linebacker, Andersen’s athleticism is on full display. At the next level he’ll likely operate as a WILL linebacker. At 6-foot-4, 233 pounds, Andersen is a rangy, juiced up defender.
When watching Andersen the thing that pops off the screen is just how fluid he is. He has legit sideline-to-sideline range and his closing speed is off the charts. He is a bit raw as a processor and sometimes has lapses when asked to fight through blocks. Nevertheless, while he is still a bit raw as a linebacker, the traits are extremely prevalent.
Andersen offers a legit 2-way skillset. Think of him as a supercharged Taysom Hill. With the Eagles, Andersen offers a multitude of skills and the propensity to be effective no matter what side of the ball he’s on due to his athletic ability.
Round 5 – Pick 164: Cole Turner (TE), Nevada
The Eagles were a top 10 team in 12 personnel usage in 2021. With the injury to Tyree Jackson, a tight end the Eagles had been hoping would grow into the TE2 spot, they’re in need of a legit 2nd receiving option at TE behind Dallas Goedert.
Turner routinely displayed great contact balance, hauling in passes down the seams. He possesses soft hands and almost always comes down with jump balls in one-on-one situations. He’s a fluid mover who is able to align at the traditional Y tight end spot, as well as aligning on the outside and being effective as a pass catcher. At 6-foot-6, Turner also has a huge catch radius, which he uses to haul in balls that are seemingly out of reach.
Round 6 – Pick 193: Christopher Allen (EDGE), Alabama
Chris Allen plays with a motor that runs hot. He’s a relentless pass rusher who’s able to get up the field and get pressure. He wins with a combination of finesse and power. Allen is able to get around the edge and chase down quarterbacks at a high level. Against the run he’s able to read, react to what he’s seeing, and trigger. The 6’4-252 pound Allen led the nation in tackles for loss in 2020, along with recording six sacks and five quarterback hurries.
And while he does posses a high motor as both a pass rusher and run defender, he does come with some concern as he tore his ACL prior to his sophomore season and suffered a season ending foot injury in Alabama’s opener this past season.
After drafting the versatile DeMarvin Leal earlier, the Eagles continue to fortify the defensive end room by adding Allen.
Round 6 – Pick 205: Nick Ford (IOL), Utah
The thing that jumps off the screen with me on Ford, is just how versatile he’s been (1 start at LT, 9 starts at left guard, 15 starts center, 13 starts at right guard, and 2 at right tackle). He’s also started 39 of the 43 games he played in. Just this past season, Ford started all 14 games (11 at center and 3 at left guard).
He’s a violent finisher who excels as a zone blocker. Ford is also effective in getting up to the 2nd level and attacking linebackers at the 2nd level.
With the Eagles, the offensive line room took a major hit with the retirement of Brandon Brooks and there is a huge cloud looming in the form of Jason Kelce and what he decides to do. The Eagles gain depth with the selection of Ford who can play every position along the offensive line.
Cover Image Credit: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images