The 2014 NFL Draft is exactly one month away and everyone has an opinion on what the Philadelphia Eagles will do with their 22nd pick.
Today we’ll begin a weekly look at some mock drafts and see just what the prognosticators are saying. This installment will look at ESPN, CBS and NFL.com.
Mel’s most recent mock draft was, in a word, bizarre. Suddenly, linebacker Khalil Mack from Buffalo is his prediction to go No. 1 to Houston. Well, good luck with that, Texans. The guess here is that Kiper is getting bored with mock drafts.
His prediction for the Eagles is Louisville safety Calvin Pryor. We know the Eagles and general manager Howie Roseman have said time and time again that they’re drafting based on quality, not need, and I believe this pick would fit that strategy.
While Philadelphia Eagles safety Nate Allen is a target of unhappy fans, he actually had a much-improved season in 2013. The Eagles also added a safety in free agency with the signing of Malcolm Jenkins.
Pryor, who just completed his junior season, is the second-rated safety in the draft and 17th-rated player overall. He’s graded above average in ESPN’s overall categories and in most of the safety specific ones. The exceptions are ball skills, where he’s rated average, and run support, where he’s rated as exceptional.
He had 14 pass breakups and seven interceptions in three seasons at Lousville, and is known as a “heavyweight fighter in run support.”
Pryor is certainly a guy who can make things happen near the box. If the Eagles feel he can be effective in coverage and bring the same intensity down the field, he would be an interesting fit.
Kirwan goes with what’s emerged as a popular choice and predicts the Eagles will select Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
Cooks seems to have the skills to make Eagles fans say “DeSean who?” Heck, the guy is even built like former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson – about the same height, but maybe 15 pounds heavier.
If you’re not familiar with this guy, check out some highlights here. Stick around for the catch and run around the 1:22 mark. Just ridiculous.
He put up insane numbers last year, catching 128 balls for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns. He grades out as above average or exceptional in every ESPN measurement, with the exception of size (he’s not even 5-feet-10). But, short, fast receivers can excel in the league. I believe I can recall the Eagles having some kind of success with that in the recent past.
This is the kind of pick that not only would meet the quality requirement, but also fill a need.
Here is another guy who now sees the Eagles going with a wide receiver in the first round, only this time it is USC wide receiver Marquise Lee. Smith’s mock has Cooks going at No. 18 to the New York Jets, and if he’s correct Lee would be the fifth wide receiver taken in the first round.
Lee, a junior, is another fairly undersized wide receiver at just a hair under 6-feet.
He’s graded as above average or exceptional in every metric, with noted “excellent flexibility and fluidity as a route runner.” He “plucks away from his frame” on catches, a noticeable difference from Cooks, who has a tendency to double catch passes.
Lee is a guy labeled “deceptively fast.” His stats don’t measure up against Cooks (tough to find any that do), with 57 catches for 791 yards and four touchdowns last year.
You can check out his highlights here. Watching some video, it feels like Lee plays a lot bigger than his actual size. He seems to really use his body well and he does have breakaway speed that can lead to big plays. Just before the 2:00 mark is a look at his kick return skills, perhaps another area in which he could aid the Eagles.
If all three of these guys are available when the Eagles go on the clock, I’m betting head coach Chip Kelly stays true to his offensive roots and goes with a wide receiver, and I’d guess a guy with the potential of Cooks gets the nod.
Who would you take?