Sherman's 2014 Eagles mock draft 3.0

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Sherman's 2014 Eagles mock draft 3.0

Between now and the draft, our draft pundits Ron Burke, Chris Steuber, Jared Sherman and Geoff Mosher will provide their latest Eagles mock drafts. They will make selections for each of the Eagles' six picks, and when they update their selections, their new mocks will be posted.

Round 1, Pick 22: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State (6-5/240)

At this point in my mock draft, the choice boiled down to Benjamin and Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller. Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer was still there, but I just don't buy the hype he's getting late in the process.

And while I believe the Eagles need to go defense early and often, I had a hard time passing on the sheer size Benjamin possesses, and just how unique he is in this draft. Yes, this draft is fairly deep at WR, but if you pass on a pass catcher at No. 22, I can't see a scenario in which a real difference maker with a defining skill set falls to the Eagles at No. 54.

Benjamin will need to work on his craft, as he's far from a completed project. However, with the structure the Eagles have in place, and guys like Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper working their butts off next to him, I believe he can make an immediate impact in 2014.

Kelvin Benjamin highlights

Mock 2.0: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA 

Round 2, Pick 54: Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State (6-3/336)

I can already hear people howling at this pick, but with rumblings about Evan Mathis wanting a new contract and Todd Herremans a possible 2015 salary cap casualty, the Eagles need to start looking for their replacements. I have already made it known that I love Jackson, and the more I watch the more I'm convinced he's the best OG in the draft. I passed on Utah CB Keith McGill and Louisville DE/LB Marcus Smith to pick Jackson.

Jackson is a thickly built masher in the running game with the agility to get out to the second level and bury linebackers. As a pass protector Jackson uses his long arms and leverage to control pass rushers.

The 2013 First Team All-SEC selection was a two-time captain for the Bulldogs and is the son of a high school football coach. I believe those are two things Chip Kelly loves to see. I know I do.

Gabe Jackson Highlights

Mock 2.0: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

Round 3, Pick 86: Christian Jones, LB, Florida State (6-3/240)

It's no secret DeMeco Ryans struggled in pass coverage last season, and given his age, I don't think it's going to improve going forward. Jones is a versatile player, capable of playing both inside and as a rush linebacker, and excels in covering tight ends and backs.

The Eagles like to send their ILBs on blitzes, and this is another area where Jones could be really good. He has tremendous range, covering ground quickly, and would give the Eagles some size in the middle of the field.

While the Eagles do need help in the secondary and at OLB, at this point in my draft the value at those positions just wasn't there.

Christian Jones Highlights 

Mock 2.0: Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood

Round 4, Pick 122 : Deandre Coleman, DT, California (6-5/314)

The Eagles are excited about young DT Bennie Logan, but they lack depth on the defensive line, especially in terms of a run-stuffing NT. Coleman is built like a huge square, with long arms and powerful hands. He can really move in small areas, and has shown he can clog running lanes. He is also versatile enough to set the edge as a 5-technique DE in a "30" front.

I took Dri Archer here last time, but I have him off my board at this point, and believe Coleman is a better value than players similar to Archer like Oregon's D'Anthony Thomas and Georgia Southern's Jerick McKinnon.

Deandre Coleman Highlights

Mock 2.0: Dri Archer, RB/KR, Kent State

Round 5, Pick 162: Marqueston Huff, DB, Wyoming (5-11/196)

Huff is a versatile piece to add to the Eagles' secondary. After starting three seasons as a CB, he transitioned to safety for his senior season. Huff is physically gifted but hasn't fully translated the athleticism to football production. He would be an ideal fit if Billy Davis wanted to play three safeties on occasion. He should be an immediate contributor on special teams where his speed and fearlessness would be put to good use.

Marqueston Huff Highlights 

Mock 2.0: Huff

Round 7, Pick 237: Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon (6-4/242)

Lyerla left the Oregon Ducks midway through the 2013 season because of personal reasons after getting arrested for cocaine possession and being suspended a game.

If Lyerla had kept his nose clean, chances are he would have been a second- or third-round pick this year. There is no doubt he is a talented player, but his off-field issues have sent his stock plunging.

Maybe I'm naive to think Kelly would take a flyer on his former recruit, but by most accounts Lyerla is a hard worker and wants to make football his priority. If he does, the Eagles are getting a gifted pass catcher who could step in if/when either James Casey or Brent Celek is cut for salary cap reasons.

Colt Lyerla Highlights 

Mock 2.0: Lyerla

Supplement-free Lane Johnson heaviest he's ever been, feels he has much to prove

Supplement-free Lane Johnson heaviest he's ever been, feels he has much to prove

It's only natural to have some reservations about Lane Johnson after he was suspended for 10 games last season for his second violation of the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy. One more positive test and the Eagles will lose their starting right tackle for two full years.

Fortunately, Johnson seems determined to avoid any future run-ins with the league. The 27-year-old changed his entire approach this offseason, cutting out negative influences or any other voices at all while preparing for the 2017 season.

"I just trained by myself back in Oklahoma," Johnson said after the Eagles' first full-team practice of OTAs on Tuesday. "Trained by myself and everything went good. I came back, my body weight is about 325, so I'm heavier than I've ever been. I feel in good shape, and I have a lot to prove, so it's a big year for me.

"I did everything by myself. There wasn't going to be any mishaps."

Two suspensions totaling 14 games later, Johnson has gained a healthy fear of being unknowingly steered toward an illegal supplement.

Johnson tested positive for PEDs before the season last year after taking a banned substance known as peptides and was eventually slapped with the full 10-game penalty after a lengthy appeal process. The fifth-year veteran always maintained peptides were not listed on the label of the offending supplement.

Johnson filed a lawsuit against the NFL and the players' association in November after the suspension was upheld. Its status is ongoing.

Johnson also served a four-game suspension in 2014.

When he's not in trouble with the league office, Johnson is a vital cog in the Eagles' offense. They went 5-1 with him and 2-8 without him last season.

"I feel like whenever I'm playing, I try to be the best right tackle in the NFL," Johnson said. "My deal is to just stay on the field, play a complete season, and I think it will be a big year for me."

Johnson isn't concerned about losing a competitive edge, physically or mentally, after dropping supplements altogether.

"I've always been the athlete that I am," Johnson said. "That's what I'll continue to prove. I'm gonna go play and show people what I can do."

Signed in January 2016 to a five-year contract extension worth $56 million, Johnson has plenty to prove. He was working out in place of 35-year-old left tackle Jason Peters, who wasn't at the start of OTAs, on Tuesday and is expected to one day replace the nine-time Pro Bowl selection permanently.

Despite his checkered past, it sounds like Johnson knows exactly what's on the line, which is why he chose to go it alone this offseason. The only person you can trust is yourself.

Then again, Johnson still has his vices, which might raise some eyebrows with the news he's up to 325 pounds — eight more than his listed weight.

"My big deal is cutting out the ice cream, the Ben & Jerry's late at night — the stuff you want to indulge in," Johnson said. "If you get me on an ice cream binge, it's not good."

The Eagles can probably deal with a little extra ice cream, just as long as Johnson remains committed to keeping dodgy supplements out of his body.

Carson Wentz further asserting himself as Eagles' leader in Year 2

Carson Wentz further asserting himself as Eagles' leader in Year 2

It's not like Carson Wentz wasn't a leader last year. 

He was. 

From the moment the No. overall 2 pick arrived at rookie camp in May, those leadership qualities the Eagles discovered during the pre-draft process were immediately on display. Wentz is a natural leader at a position that necessitates it. 

So in his rookie season, he led. 

"I thought that was all kind of natural, things naturally happened," Wentz said. "Yes, I was a rookie but I don't think that I was by any means quiet. I wasn't just the guy that rolled with the punches and went with it. I thought I was still doing my job as a leader as well. But the longer we're playing this game and the more experience we have, the more we can just step up our leadership as well."

If Wentz was a leader in his rookie season, he's really a leader now.  

Last year, he arrived to the Eagles' offseason after the whirlwind of the NFL draft and admitted on Tuesday that he "didn't really know where the locker room was." Hard to lead when you don't know where to get changed. 

And throughout last spring, he was the team's third-string quarterback preparing for a redshirt season until he was thrust into the starting role after the Sam Bradford trade, just a little more than a week before the start of the season. 

A year sometimes makes a huge difference. 

This year, he's the guy, the face of the franchise, the unquestioned leader of the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles. 

"There’s definitely a poise about him," receiver Jordan Matthews said. "You can tell it’s not like last year when he was thrust into the position. He knows his role, he knows he’s the guy, and I think there’s a sense of confidence that comes with that, a sense of poise that he handles extremely well. I’m excited to see what he does this whole offseason and what we’re going to do moving forward."

Wentz is the Eagles' leader on and off the field. He's planning on getting together with his receivers and skills position players again this summer, something he thinks will become an annual trip. 

Earlier this month, Wentz took his offensive linemen out for a day of shooting guns and eating steaks (see story). He bought his entire line shotguns last Christmas. 

It might not seem like a summer get-together or a trigger-happy trip would help the Eagles on the field, but it might. After all, the team's being closer certainly won't hurt. And Wentz, 24, is the guy facilitating all of it. 

Then there's the way Wentz leads on the field. He's always had control of the huddle, but with more time in the offense, he knows what he wants. Center Jason Kelce said the more knowledge Wentz gains of the offense, the "more comfortable (he is) voicing [his] opinion." 

"And I think that he's definitely asserting his style on the offense," Kelce said. 

For the most part, Wentz had a pretty good season as a rookie, flourishing early, hitting a long rough patch, and then finding his way out of it. He ended up throwing for 3,782 yards and set an NFL record for completions as a rookie. 

The Eagles this year, and in the foreseeable future, will go as far as Wentz leads them. 

"They say the biggest jump is from year one to year two, so him just knowing what’s coming, he looks like a vet already," offensive tackle Lane Johnson said. "Pretty extraordinary."