Eagles Pre-Draft Q&A: Will The Linebacker Streak End?
Updated: Apr 25, 2022
Yes, it's been a while. I get it. But it's draft season, so who cares about me and let's just get into it.
Myself and my fellow Eagles writer LJ Nesler thought it would be a good idea to answer some draft questions with only a few days until the draft begins on April 28th!
Who's #1 on your big board for the Eagles?
When I started my draft research back in January, I started by looking at the linebackers. I started with Nakobe Dean and Christian Harris, since I believed it was pretty clear that those two were the top two 'backers in this class. However, all it took was one game of Devin Lloyd film to get me hooked(his film against Stanford from 2021 is genuinely one of the best games I've seen from a prospect since I've been following the draft, check it out on YouTube). His athleticism is off the charts, but it's really just the way he can run down anyone on the field with his closing speed. I considered guys like Derek Stingley Jr., Sauce Gardner and Kyle Hamilton but Lloyd was #1 on my board 3 months ago and he still is now.
I think the Eagles offense was very good in a lot of areas last season, but their passing game was not one of them. Hurts had his fair share of struggles, but if the Eagles want to give Hurts a fair shot, they need to surround him with weapons. Outside of adding Zach Pascal, the Eagles haven’t upgraded the offense at all, so I fully expect them to target one of the top receivers. As you'll see in the next portion, Jameson Williams is my WR1 so it's him.
How do you rank the WRs in this class?
1. Garrett Wilson
2. Drake London
3. Chris Olave
4. Jameson Williams
5. Treylon Burks
6. Christian Watson
7. Jahan Dotson
8. Skyy Moore
Those are just the guys that I believe have a chance to be selected in the first round. Obviously all 8 won't be, but guys like Moore and Watson sneak into the first round all the time. It's really close between Wilson and Olave at the top, but Wilson edges him due to his health and higher play at a better conference. Olave and Williams are also close, Burks being a bit of a leg behind them due to some concerns about how the Eagles could use him. The last 3 would all be reaches at 15 or 18 and would only be good value in a trade down scenario.
1. Jameson Williams
2. Garrett Wilson
3. Chris Olave
4. Treylon Burks
5. Drake London
Jameson is fastest player in the country, but he is much more than that. He has elite stop-start speed, and is so smooth in and out of his breaks. He is also great with the ball in his hands and is a threat to take it to the house each play. The knee injury is a bit concerning, but Jameson Williams is good enough to warrant taking the risk. Garrett Wilson is the best route runner in the draft, and he runs routes with extreme exaggeration. His ball skills are elite and makes highlight reel catches, and a big part of that is due to his basketball background. Wilson is also elite with the ball in his hands, and breaks tackles at a high rate. However, he struggles to get separation off the LOS against press-man, and he usually gets taken out of his routes from the jump. Olave does not have the talent of Wilson or Jameson, but he has legit 4.39 speed and is a silky-smooth route runner. Olave will be a Z receiver in the NFL, and his speed combined with his intermediate route running will make an NFL organization very happy. Treylon Burks is the most talented skill-player in the class, but he is extremely raw. Burks has legit 4.3 speed, but he was out of shape in the combine according to NFL insiders, causing his 40-time to plummet. Burks is amazing with the ball in his hands, and he is amazing on go routes with the ball in the air, but their is a lot of room for improvement. Drake London is a smooth route runner, and can be a very consistent no.2 receiver in the NFL that brings a great red-zone and sideline presence. London moves very well and makes extremely quick and sharp cuts for a receiver of his size, resembling shade of Mike Evans. London has a defined ceiling that some of the other receivers don't have, but he will make a lot of money on his ball skill and route running alone.
Is a trade up worth it?
It really depends on who you are trading up for. If you see someone like Stingley, Gardner or Kyle Hamilton falling outside the top 10, I believe it's worth it as long as you can find the right trade partner. Outside maybe Jermaine Johnson, that's probably where the list of players that I'd trade up for ends. I've heard a lot of people interested in Jordan Davis, which would be ok, but I'm just not sold on the position of defensive tackle being a huge need right now. You don't draft a guy like Davis for him to just be a rotational guy, he needs to be starting from Day 1.
A trade up is worth it if the Eagles see their guy. If the right guy is there, go get him, we have plenty of draft capital over the next couple years to make a trade up and still fill other areas of need.
Is a trade down worth it?
I've been pretty against a trade down through this whole process. I'm not sure this is generally believed around the NFL community, but in my opinion this draft is pretty top heavy. That doesn't mean you won't find good prospects in the 2nd/3rd round, but I just think the top 20 players in this draft would all be ranked higher then they are in most drafts(which is mostly due to the lack of good QB prospects). The only scenario where I'd think about doing it is if some of the top defensive players started to slip down the draft board, since a lot of the borderline first round receivers could still make a big impact on this offense.
I'm not a major fan of a trade down unless the value is too good to pass up on. There are a lot of good players in this draft, so I don't think Howie Roseman should trade down unless they are in love with the draft capital they'd acquire.
Who is a late round guy you've fallen in love with for the Eagles?
There's a chance that Pierre Strong Jr. is taken on Day 2, but he's a potential Day 3 running back that I just can't get enough of when thinking about his fit with the Eagles. People definitely wouldn't think of running back when thinking of positions of need for the Eagles, but Howie Roseman loves taking running backs in this 4th-6th round range. We saw it just last year, when the Eagles took Kenneth Gainwell in the 5th round despite having Sanders and others at the position. Strong went for 1,673 rushing yards and 22 total TDs last year for South Dakota State, while running a 4.37 40 at the combine. Jordan Howard is gone, so the Eagles will need someone like Strong to keep the running back factory going.
WR Tyquan Thorton is my guy I've fallen in love with. 4.28 40 time, 6'2" and has amazing ball skills. He is raw but Nick Sirianni can develop him.
Is there any chance the Eagles take a QB in the early rounds?
Alex: It's tough for me to say no chance, since this is Howie Roseman and we know he does his due diligence with all the QBs in the draft. However, all signs point to the Eagles being all-in on Jalen Hurts for at least this season. So I'll say it's not impossible but it's very unlikely.
LJ: No chance The Eagles take a QB, Hurts is the guy for 2022, and we will reevaluate this coming offseason with a better QB class.
Predict the Picks at 15 and 18.
15: Trent McDuffie
18: Devin Lloyd
15: Chris Olave
18: Jordan Davis