Hudrick's 2017 seven-round Eagles mock draft 1.0

Hudrick's 2017 seven-round Eagles mock draft 1.0

Paul Hudrick's first seven-round mock draft for the Eagles in 2017 is here. In his NFL mock draft 1.0, he had the Eagles taking Washington corner Sidney Jones. With Jones suffering an Achilles injury during his pro day, the Eagles go in a different direction.

First round (14th overall (from Vikings)): Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee, 6-3/259
Yes, I'm aware corner may be a bigger need, but with Washington's Sidney Jones suffering a torn Achilles, Barnett is the best player available that would also fit a need. Barnett accumulated 32 sacks in his three seasons at Tennessee. He could be the type of player that registers double-digit sacks consistently on the next level. Last I checked, the Eagles don't have a player like that on their roster.

Barnett isn't the twitchy, physical specimen of a pass rusher we've seen drafted recently. He wins more with brute strength and violent hands. He's not just a one-trick pony either. He defends the run well, setting the edge while also making plays on the ball carrier (52 tackles for a loss in his career). He tries to make up for his lack of twitch by anticipating snap counts and will get flagged for the occasional neutral zone infraction. That's something Jim Schwartz and the Eagles will likely live with.

A popular notion is that the Eagles have to take a corner, but that type of thinking has gotten them into the trouble in the past. To grab a potentially elite pass rusher at 14 is excellent value. Much more than say, a certain Florida State running back.

Second round (43rd overall) Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA, 6-0/206
In the second round, the Eagles get their corner. In a different draft, Moreau might be a first-round talent. In a stupid deep class, he slips to the second round. Moreau missed most of 2015 with a broken foot so he was actually a redshirt senior in 2016. He played and started every game this season and excelled. His 4.35 40 at the combine matched what you see on tape.

The obvious knock on Moreau will be his lack of interceptions. He picked off just three passes in 38 career games. More importantly, Moreau is excellent at mirroring receivers and has the makeup speed to not get beat deep. He's learning more and more how to use his athleticism. He'll give Schwartz plenty to work with. My knock on him would be that he needs to get a little stronger to contend with some of the bigger, more physical receivers in the NFL.

Third round (74th overall): Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado, 6-3/198
Again, with such a deep corner class, players are bound to get lost in the shuffle. With how great Washington's secondary was this year, Colorado's fantastic back end might have been overlooked in the Pac 12. Witherspoon played on the other side of Chidobe Awuzie, arguably the best corner in the conference not named Sidney Jones. Tested frequently on the opposite side, Witherspoon only had one pick but registered 19 passes defended. Proof that he was tested often and passed those tests. 

Witherspoon has prototypical size, but he also showed he can compete with faster, quicker receivers like Washington's explosive John Ross. I see Moreau and Witherspoon as an intriguing tandem. Neither player is excellent in the run game, so be prepared for a missed tackle or two. But before you moan and groan, remember that a corner's primary function is to cover receivers. Both of these guys do that well.

Fourth round (119th overall): Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech, 5-11/199
Henderson is explosive and quick. His 40 time wasn't elite (4.46) but he shows plenty of game speed. He's coming out early after having a monster junior season, hauling in 82 catches for 1,535 yards and 19 receiving touchdowns. He's also a dangerous kick returner, taking two returns to the house last season. 

He's small and his level of competition wasn't great. He's not the greatest route runner either, but he'll have time to develop behind Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Jordan Matthews. With Matthews not having a contract for next season, Henderson could be an ideal replacement for a more traditional slot. Henderson is excellent in the screen game and at making people miss in tight quarters.

Fourth round (139th overall (from Browns)): Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson, 6-0/215
Gallman seemed to be the player lost in the shuffle in Clemson's star-studded offense. He had a huge sophomore season running for 1,514 yards on 282 carries. His numbers dipped a little in 2016 because the team didn't want to overuse him. He's got the ideal size and a nose for the end zone (30 rushing TDs last two seasons combined). 

The knocks on Gallman are his lack of footwork and patience. From watching him, I'd say these concerns are slightly overblown. The Eagles are lacking a back with his physical mentality and toughness. He also has decent hands out of the backfield. 

Fifth round (155th overall): Tanzel Smart, DT, Tulane, 6-1/296
It's always tougher to project guys from smaller schools to the NFL, but Smart certainly produced at Tulane. Smart's numbers went up every season. During his senior year, Smart registered 5 1/2 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss. His most impressive game was probably against Houston, who was ranked for a good chunk of the season. In the loss, Smart recorded 1 1/2 sacks, 3 1/2 tackles for a loss and seven total tackles. 

Smart is a little smaller and will get pushed around a bit by bigger guards. He's better playing more of an attacking style. He struggles when he's asked to hold blockers up. With Bennie Logan headed to Kansas City, the Eagles seem committed to using the 327-pound Beau Allen on early downs. Smart could provide another option for Schwartz to get an inside push on third down.

Sixth round (194th overall): Jalen Robinette, WR, Air Force, 6-3/220
Coming from an offense that runs a ton of read option, Robinette still managed to post 959 yards on 35 catches. That's an insane 27.4 yards a catch. He also caught six of the Falcons' 14 touchdown receptions. Robinette benefitted greatly from play action, seeing a lot of man coverage and using his size and strong hands to outmuscle defensive backs for the ball.

I'm not sure if Robinette can run good routes. I'm not sure if Air Force even has a route tree. Behind more accomplished receivers, Robinette will have the opportunity to learn the nuances of the position under new receivers coach Mike Groh. His 40 time wasn't impressive (4.62), but his ball skills and size are intriguing.

Seventh round (230th overall): Tedric Thompson, S, Colorado, 6-0/204
Another part of Colorado's underrated secondary, Thompson was tied for third in the country with seven interceptions. He's a ballhawking safety with cover skills and strong instincts. 

He's not physically imposing or a big hitter. Colorado had him sort of interchange between strong and free safety. In the NFL, he'd be much better served to be a centerfielder and showing off his ball skills. Thompson falls here because of his physical profile, but his seven interceptions weren't an accident. The Eagles used a third safety a lot, having Jaylen Watkins come in with Rodney McLeod while Malcolm Jenkins went down to the slot. Having a player like Thompson out there could lead to more turnovers.

Eagles should stay away from running backs in first round

Eagles should stay away from running backs in first round

Ezekiel Elliott was the fourth overall pick by the Cowboys in the 2016 NFL draft.

He went on to have a historic rookie season, leading the NFL in rushing behind the best offensive line in football.

But do you know who finished second in the league in rushing? That would be the Bears' Jordan Howard, another rookie, drafted in the fifth round. 

If you keep going down the list of the league's top rushers last season, nine out of the top 10 on the list were drafted after the first round. Only three backs in the top 10 were drafted in the first two rounds (Elliott, LeSean McCoy, Le'Veon Bell). 

Whether it's LSU's Leonard Fournette, Florida State's Dalvin Cook or Stanford's Christian McCaffrey, the Eagles should stay away from running backs in the first round.

We'll start with Fournette, considered by most to be the best running back in the class. He was also mocked to the Eagles in a trade-up scenario by Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke with the No. 5 overall pick. Burke is an excellent evaluator, but in this case, he's off the mark. Fournette's talent is real. His combination of size and speed is unmatched by any running back in the class and perhaps any running back in the NFL. He'll correctly be the first back off the board and go in the top 10. 

But would the Eagles give up a second-round pick to obtain Fournette? It's just hard to see as realistic. This team has too many holes and not enough draft picks to make a move like Burke suggests. Fournette looks like he'll be a special player, just not for the Eagles.

Then there's Cook, who seems to be the belle of the ball with Eagles fans. Watching the tape, it's undeniable: Cook is an extremely talented player. But evaluations aren't black and white. Cook has issues with injuries (multiple shoulder surgeries) and has had a couple issues off the field. 

He also tested poorly at the combine. In the biggest audition of his life, Cook's numbers didn't match what you saw on tape. That has to make you wonder if he was fully prepared for the combine. If the Eagles take Cook, there's no doubt he'll make their offense better. The biggest concern has to be his long-term success and the value you get taking him at 14 over another player at a more valuable position.

Lastly, there's McCaffrey. It's easy to see the fit here. McCaffrey is an explosive back who runs routes and has the ball skills of a receiver. He's also incredibly dangerous in the return game. Unlike Cook, McCaffrey tested off the charts in Indy. His strength (10 reps at 225) is the only real concern.

From a scheme perspective, McCaffrey is perfectly suited for Doug Pederson's offense. Pederson can use McCaffrey much like Andy Reid used Brian Westbrook over a decade ago. McCaffrey's struggles running between the tackles are a little overblown, but it still has to be a concern for a team that doesn't have a proven, primary back. 

This is also a strong running back class. Toledo's Kareem Hunt would fit nicely in this offense and should be available in the third round. Clemson's Wayne Gallman is a tough, versatile back that could be available in the third or fourth. There's also BYU's Jamaal Williams, Pitt's James Conner and Wyoming's Brian Hill, all of whom should be there in the middle rounds.

When you look at who else could be there at 14, it just doesn't make sense to draft a running back. If you're looking to give Carson Wentz more weapons, either Clemson's Mike Williams, Western Michigan's Corey Davis or Washington's John Ross should be there. Any of them could give Wentz a long-term receiving threat. 

If you're looking to improve the defense, there are plenty of options. In case you've been living under a rock this offseason, this cornerback draft class is crazy deep. Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore is the best of the bunch and will likely be gone by 14. His teammate, Gareon Conley, should still be around at 14. So should LSU's TreDavious White, Alabama's Marlon Humphrey, Clemson's Cordrea Tankersely and Florida's Quincy Wilson. 

Don't count out Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett as an option if he's on the board. With Vinny Curry's struggles and the Eagles' lack of depth, a pass rusher is a definite need. If Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster slips for a spat he had with a hospital worker during the combine, he's worth a long look. He's a game-changing 'backer.

Elliott was as close to a sure thing as you can get. There's a reason he was taken at No. 4 overall. If Cook and McCaffrey are there at 14, there's a reason for that, too. 

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie rails against political polarization in Washington

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie rails against political polarization in Washington

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie isn't often very outspoken on football or political matters. 

He has apparently made an exception. 

Just a few days before Lurie is tentatively scheduled to speak to Philadelphia reporters while in Phoenix for the league's annual meetings, the Eagles owner authored a story for Time Magazine railing against political polarization in Washington.

Lurie has not spoken to reporters publicly since last March in Boca Raton, Florida, at the 2016 owners meetings. 

The owner's essay was published just hours after House Republican leaders pulled legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Friday afternoon. Lurie, for the record, donated money to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign last year.

Lurie, the Eagles' 65-year-old billionaire owner, in the story, uses football as an example for which Washington should strive. 

Here's how Lurie begins the piece:

"What do football, political polarization and autism have in common? They all illuminate aspects of the human condition, explaining who we are, where we are headed and the hurdles along the way. As a sports team owner I rarely publicly discuss politics, but as a member of a family touched by autism, I often think about the unspoken millions of people who live with the daily challenges of this disorder."

Lurie then goes on to explain why football can act as a guide for Washington when it comes to united for the common good:

"What I have learned from football can be applied to society at large. Just as we intensely game-plan against an opponent in sports, we need to game plan for the reality and consequences of polarization. Extreme polarization is the opponent -- not each other. A football team is made up of players from a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences and political viewpoints. What unites them is grit, determination, and the desire to win. They join in a common goal and do what is necessary to transcend their differences for the greater good of their team.

"What unites Americans is far more negative. We are now in an age where communicating verifiable information becomes secondary to the goal of creating a common enemy that unifies people in fear, negativity and opposition. This masks our inability to solve serious domestic problems (poverty, violence and institutional racism to name three current examples) and diverts our attention from obvious suffering."

Lurie then writes that we, as Americans, have the "necessary resources" to tackle serious problems, like autism, but lack the leadership to put aside differences. 

The whole piece isn't very long and is worth reading in full to gain a better understanding of its context. 

Next week while in Phoenix, Lurie will surely be asked about what motivated him to write the piece.