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

Shelton Gibson needs to boost his confidence to boost his play

Shelton Gibson needs to boost his confidence to boost his play

There's no need to sugarcoat or pretend things have gone perfectly. 

They haven't. 

Through the first couple months of Shelton Gibson's NFL career, there have been more bad days than good, more dropped passes than impressive plays, more reasons for the coaching staff to wonder than to be encouraged. 

"He's coming along," head coach Doug Pederson said bluntly about Gibson on Monday after practice. "He's by no means where he wants to be or where we want him to be, but he's learning our system."

Gibson, for his part, agreed with that assessment. He didn't try to hide from his struggles. 

After a mostly lackluster spring, Gibson started his training camp on Monday morning with a few more drops during practice. 

"It's just confidence," Gibson said about his dropped passes. "It's the only thing it is. Everything is about confidence. You go out there and know your plays, you're going to be confident." 

Gibson thinks learning his plays and getting extra reps will help him to get over the hump.

"This game is about how you can bounce back," he said in mid-June. 

At that time, it looked like Gibson was ready to bounce back. After a mostly disappointing spring, the last two days of the mandatory minicamp were a different story for the rookie fifth-round receiver. It seemed like he was turning a corner, not dropping as many passes and starting to make some plays. 

And while it seems like the long layoff between minicamp and training camp, after seemingly turning a corner, might have been tough for Gibson, he claimed it wasn't. In fact, getting a chance to go home to Ohio built his confidence up even more. 

"You know, you go back home, you're that guy," Gibson said. "When you come back here, you step back to reality."

Reality was a little harsh to him on Monday. But the good news is, there's plenty of time left in training camp. Plenty of time for him to master a playbook that's significantly different and more complex than the one he had at West Virginia. And plenty of time for him to start making plays. 

While Gibson has struggled since entering the NFL, his fellow rookie wideout Mack Hollins, who was drafted the round before Gibson, hasn't. In fact, Hollins has been pretty impressive so far. 

"We all have days where we drop balls," Hollins said. "You drop one and you drop another and then it's like nothing's working for you. Having teammates that just turn their backs, walk away and don't say anything, it doesn't make it any better. It doesn't matter if you're a rookie or a vet, being a good teammate is saying, 'Hey, you're good. You got it. You're here for a reason. 

"'Shelton, you got drafted for a reason. It's not like they just flipped a coin and said let's go to this name. You're here for a reason, because you can catch the ball and play well as a receiver.' Just encouraging him like that. The same way I would want it from him if I was having a bad day."

Aside from getting a chance to go home over the last month, Gibson also got a chance to join some of his fellow receivers in North Dakota for team workouts and bonding with quarterback Carson Wentz. 

The trip was beneficial in terms of Gibson's on-field progress, but also allowed him to become closer to some of his teammates and enjoy some new life experiences. 

Gibson tried a bison burger (it was good), ate seafood for the first time (he liked that even more) and attempted water sports on a lake.  

"I can't paddle board," Gibson said. "I suck at it."

But he thinks he can play receiver. And he has a couple weeks left of training camp to prove it to his coaches.  

With high expectations, Derek Barnett knows he still has plenty to learn

With high expectations, Derek Barnett knows he still has plenty to learn

Back near the far hedges of the NovaCare Complex's practice fields, a small group of defensive linemen in white jerseys and shorts participated in some drills. There were barely enough of them to even assemble a defensive line. More than half of the 90 men on the Eagles’ current roster were not at the team’s facilities. 

One of those few defensive linemen was Derek Barnett. On the first day of his first training camp, reporters later crowded around the first-round pick’s temporary locker as if he were the second-coming. Someone asked if he had any issues, considering his high-profile status, with the location of his locker, which is in the middle of the room and not one of the permanent stalls along the wall.

“I ain't made no plays yet,” Barnett said Monday, “so I'm cool with this locker until I make some plays.”

Good point. In terms of both Barnett’s career and this Eagles season, it is early. Very early. And to overhype the magnitude of Monday’s practice with rookies, quarterbacks and selected veterans would be silly. But Barnett knows where he stands, and he took the day as another opportunity to learn. He knows he must.

"Just keep on repping," Barnett said. "I come in and get better each day. It's not a sprint, it's a marathon."

Barnett has never lived anywhere outside of Tennessee. He hails from Brentwood, a suburb of Nashville. He attended the University of Tennessee, where his 33 sacks in three seasons broke Reggie White’s school record. Now the 21-year-old lives in Philadelphia, away from his family — especially his mother, whom he credits as his greatest influence — for the first time. They talk just about every day, and she’s been helpful in his move. Google Maps has been an aid, too. Barnett wants to know more about the city and its history.

He can absorb that knowledge over time, but the Eagles, of course, would prefer that he learns how to beat NFL offensive tackles as quickly as possible. Barnett joined a defensive end unit led by its only clear-cut starter in Brandon Graham. After that, Barnett, along with Chris Long and Vinny Curry, will get time. He might start, he might not. Any pressure that came along with going 14th overall, Barnett said, he doesn’t feel. But an internal force drives him.

“I have very high expectations for myself,” Barnett said. “And that's every year I go into a football season. I'm the biggest critic of myself.”

To get out on the field a few days early was good for Barnett, he said. After spending the time off over the last few weeks at home in Tennessee and working out with former All-Pro end Chuck Smith in Atlanta, he relished the opportunity. Given the limited numbers, Barnett lined up on both the right and left sides of the ball. He said he feels comfortable on either side. It was the not the game action he’s been anxious for, and it didn’t feel “real” without all the veterans, but it was a start.

The vets are on their way, though. The first full-team practice is Thursday, and with that will come the more polished Graham, Curry and Long. That’s three more sets of eyes to critique him, and three more sets of skills for him to watch; Barnett said observing their methods will help him get “mental reps.” The competition won’t hurt either.

The transition appears to be smooth so far. Barnett said he’s had to “unlearn” some of what he did in college, replacing it with a new set of muscle memory. The pace Monday was faster than during OTAs, but Barnett acknowledged that there are no days off in a league where everyone on the field is more capable. You can’t “slack mentally.”

"Coming in today, my coaches said, 'Just play, go, you can make mistakes, and if you do we'll correct them,'" Barnett said. "I didn't feel like there were many mistakes, but I still got some technique things … Things I need to do better."

All of it is new — the techniques, the coaches, the team and the city. Still, familiarity remains.

“It feels like I'm a freshman again, but I'm a rookie,” Barnett said. “I gotta come in and work hard and prove to my teammates that it's important to me and show the coaches they can trust me if they put me on the field.”