Philadelphia Eagles

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 set to welcome Dolphins for 'intense' joint practices this week

Eagles set to welcome Dolphins for 'intense' joint practices this week

According to Eagles rookie wide receiver Mack Hollins, the coaches have laid down a few rules for the team’s joint practices with the Miami Dolphins, which run Monday through Wednesday.

“The ground rules are pretty basic, same rules as if it was in a game,” Hollins said. “Don’t act a fool, don’t fight, basically don’t do stuff you wouldn’t do in a game.”

That might sound simple on paper, but several Eagles players acknowledged there tends to be a different level of competitiveness when another team shares the field.

“It’s always intense when you have new people you’re going against,” defensive end Steven Means said. “It’s just like the first day of practice, so I’m pretty sure it’ll be cranked up a bit.”

The Eagles last held a joint practice two years ago, when the Baltimore Ravens visited Philadelphia. (The Eagles won that week’s game, 40-17). That means Monday will be Carson Wentz’s first time practicing against another team.

“I’m excited for them to come up,” Wentz said. “In training camp, you're going against your own team for so long, practices just get to be long and you start to figure out each other a little bit.”

Wentz’s big target, Alshon Jeffery, who has missed substantial time practicing against his teammates, is looking forward to facing the Dolphins.

“It’s a good chance to see where we’re at, just bond, build team chemistry,” Jeffery said. “Just keep working and keep competing.”

Jeffery mentioned he’s glad he’ll have the opportunity to catch up with new Dolphin Jay Cutler, his quarterback for the first five years of his career.

Despite the time he’s spent on the sidelines, Jeffery insisted Sunday he doesn’t think he’s behind (see story).

While adding the caveat he never places too much weight on how he performs during the preseason, fellow wide receiver Torrey Smith is as eager as his offensive teammates to take on a different defense.

“It’s some of the best competition we can get,” Smith said. “It’s like a game, just not hitting each other.”

Once the three days of practice conclude, the Eagles and Dolphins will finally be able to tackle each other Thursday night under the lights of Lincoln Financial Field.

Alshon Jeffery doesn't feel behind after missing time during Eagles camp

Alshon Jeffery doesn't feel behind after missing time during Eagles camp

On Saturday afternoon, Eagles receivers coach Mike Groh said he thought big free-agent pickup Alshon Jeffery was a little behind after missing time this training camp.

Jeffery doesn't agree.

"Not at all," Jeffery said Sunday. "But at the same time, missing a few practices here and there just getting some timing down — I'll be all right."

Jeffery missed considerable time this summer, first with a shoulder injury and then because Doug Pederson used his "discretion" to hold the star receiver out of practice.

After missing practice time, Jeffery also missed the first preseason game in Green Bay. He did play Thursday night against the Bills with mixed results. He caught a couple passes for 23 yards but also made some mistakes.

"I think he's behind," Groh said Saturday. "Anytime you miss the amount of time he did. He's a little bit behind but fortunately, we have time for him to catch up on all that. I thought they got off to a good start the other night."

On one play in particular, instead of running a corner route, Jeffery ran an out. Similar … but not the same. Groh said it was Jeffery's responsibility to know the route but said in a non-game plan week, the team probably didn't practice it. And it was possible Jeffery's missed time led to the mix-up.

On Sunday, Jeffery just saw it as a mistake.

"It's the game of football," he said. "Every once in a while you're going to run a wrong route, make some mistakes on a few plays. But I'll be all right."

The most important thing for Jeffery over the next three weeks before the start of the regular season is building his chemistry with Carson Wentz. While the two have been together now since the spring and Jeffery went to North Dakota with the other receivers, there's still a feeling-out process going on.

Groh said there's not a normal amount of time for quarterbacks and receivers to get on the same page, but did note Wentz and Jeffery take extra reps together during special teams periods in an attempt to catch-up.

A big part of Jeffery's game is timing routes like fades. When asked if it takes even longer to build chemistry with a receiver like that, Groh had a different theory.  

"I think it may take less time with really good players," he said. "They just kind of have a feel for each other. One of the things that has helped Alshon be a productive player, I think his body language is very easy to read and judge for quarterbacks. When he and Carson get out here and Carson starts to learn that body language, where he likes the ball, with the accuracy Carson can throw with, it'll probably work out well."

For the next two days, Jeffery will get a chance to look across the field to the other sideline and see a guy who he once built that chemistry with. Jay Cutler, who was Jeffery's QB in Chicago, is now the starter for the Dolphins, who will be in town for two joint practices in advance of Thursday's game at the Linc.

Jeffery said it'll be a little weird to see Cutler, but he's looking forward to catching up with his old teammate, whom he played with from 2012 through last season.

How long did it take for him and Cutler to forge chemistry?

"Over time and over years," Jeffery said. "We were together for a long time so when we'd line up, I'd know what he wants and he knows what I like. It takes time over years. We'd been together five years."

A staple of the Chicago offense with Cutler and Jeffery were back-shoulder throws, ones that can be completed only when the quarterback and receiver are in sync.

Eventually, the Eagles hope Wentz and Jeffery will get them down too.

"In time. In due time," Jeffery said. "Each and every practice we get better. In due time, it'll get better."