The Super Bowl champion PHILADELPHIA EAGLES are in a tough situation going into the 2018 NFL Draft. The Eagles will be faced with minimal cap room to sign players via free agency. (Of course, we’ll never know what wizardry Howie can/will cook up.) This means an extra emphasis will be placed by the front office on acquiring talent and filling holes through the draft.
The Birds currently only possess six picks in the upcoming draft, with 98 selections separating our first and second picks. I fully expect Roseman and Co. to get creative in the weeks leading up to the draft in order to obtain more picks. But for simplicity, I won’t mock any trades in this draft.
Without further ado, I present the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2018 NFL Draft class, 40 days before it’s announced!
(Shoutout to BGN Alum Jimmy Kempski for the breakdown of Eagles draft picks)
Round 1, Pick #32 (Eagles’ own pick): RB Ronald Jones II, USC
No matter who the pick is on draft night, it will be sweet to hear Roger Goodell announce the Eagles as Super Bowl champions in front of the thousands of Cowboys fans. (And the thousands more Eagles fans who will have made the trip!)
Howie closes out day 1 of the draft by adding to an already high-scoring offense with the selection of the 5’11″, 200 lbs running back out of Southern Cal, Ronald Jones. Even though he was unable to perform up to his capabilities during the combine due to a hamstring injury, Jones’ tape speaks for itself. Ronald shows tremendous burst out of the backfield as soon as he receives the handoff, but also displays patience as he waits for his blocks to be set-up. Jones is able to cut with an extreme suddenness which shows when he avoids defenders that leak into the backfield. When Jones breaks into the open field, some pretty spectacular highlights ensue. Jones makes multiple defenders miss on runs with a variety of moves (a lot of spin moves, like a lot). He shows good balance on these runs as well as when he is wrapped up by defenders, often gaining extra yards. Despite his size, Jones shows a willingness to block, waiting and scanning in the backfield for blitzers before breaking out into his release route.
Even though Jones only caught 14 passes for 187 yards and one TD during 2017, there is untapped potential in this area. I’ve already touched on his homerun ability with the ball in his hands. He uses his hands to catch, with the motion looking natural. Improvements can be made in his route running and overall effort level when he’s the checkdown. On film, his routes look somewhat lazy and incomplete; leading him to be not open for a pass.
The biggest knock on Ronald Jones by scouts has been his size leading to durability concerns. I personally don’t see this as an issue if chosen by the Eagles due to coach Doug Pederson’s backfield by committee approach. Jones feels like a perfect complement to the more powerful running styles of Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement. There has also been some talk about his small hands potentially leading to fumble issues in the NFL. Jones had 2 fumbles (1 lost) over 591 carries during his Trojans career. That’s a fumble every 296 carries. Non-issue.
NFL COMPARISON (per nfl.com): Jamaal Charles
After what will feel like an eternity to Howie Roseman, he bolsters the Eagles linebacking corps with 6’3″, 227 lbs Fred Warner.
Warner was on the field for all four of his years at BYU, starting in 2016 and 2017. Had good production in his senior season with 87 tackles (9 TFL), 1 INT, 5 PBU’s, and 1 fumble recovery. Warner has good athletic ability (tested solidly across all combine events) which allows him to cover receivers, tight ends, and running backs out in space. Showed good recognition, rarely put out of position by play fakes (In BYU’s zone-heavy scheme, was able to keep his eyes in the backfield). Showed solid ability to shed blocks when sifting to the backfield.
Despite Warner’s very solid stats, it didn’t always show up when watching film. He seemed a little passive, letting the play come to him instead of attacking. When he did attack however, there were instances where he over pursued, leading to poor tackle attempts.
Fred Warner would provide good depth for the Eagles, help out on special teams and would compete for the starting WILL linebacker position. (ie. Bye Mychal)
NFL COMPARISON (per nfl.com): Alani Fua
Round 4, Pick #132 (Eagles’ own pick): S Marcus Allen, Penn State
The Eagles won’t have to wait nearly as long to make there next selection of 6’2″, 203 lbs safety: Marcus Allen.
Seek. Hit. Destroy. As soon as Allen makes his read, he breaks full speed at the ball carrier, often ending in a big collision. When down in the box, delivers firm punches when taking on blockers. Not afraid to tackle anybody.
Allen did not run the 40 at the combine which may confirm his lack of long speed. Not much of a ball hawk, only recorded one interception in college career. Late to diagnose sometimes. Footwork could use some work, somewhat wild backpedal when lining up over receivers, or lack thereof.
On the Eagles, would compete to fill Corey Graham’s former role in the defence. Could be great on special teams coverage (Returners beware). Eagles may target him as a potential position switch candidate to LB.
NFL COMPARISON (per nfl.com): Clayton Geathers
Round 5, Pick #169 (Eagles’ own pick): OT Brandon Parker, North Carolina A&T
The front office fills a long-term need here with 6’7″, 314 lbs, offensive tackle: Brandon Parker.
Parker possesses ideal size for the position with long arms (84⅞” wingspan). Frame can support more weight. When Parker gets his hands on a rusher, can completely shut them out of the rep. Good, well-timed punches to disrupt defender’s rhythm. Shows great athleticism pulling into space on runs. Good effort in trying to finish blocks, some nasty.
Parker’s pad level is much too high, frequently lost balance. Could widen base to improve balance as well. Ended up on turf much too often for a lineman. Kickslide footwork needs refinement, small choppy steps. Sometimes reaches/lunges too much when run-blocking, loses leverage.
Brandon Parker can sit for a year and learn behind the Eagles elite tackles, ideally becoming a future starter.
NFL COMPARISON (per nfl.com): Jylan Ware
Round 6, Pick #206 (Eagles’ own pick): DE Ade Aruna, Tulane
The Eagles continue to add high upside prospects in the later rounds with the selection of 6’6″, 262 lbs defensive end: Ade Aruna.
Aruna has an ideal frame to play DE in the NFL, with room to add even more strength. Long arms which allow him to keep blockers off of him. Tested well at combine. Showed pretty good play recognition on option plays. Good effort level in chasing down loose runners out the backfield. Stay disciplined when setting the edge on runs. Light on his feet, good quicks (takes ballet classes). Delivers good, hard hits.
No real pass rush moves (still learning the game, started playing as senior in HS), primarily bull rushes. Sometimes gets too high up on blockers, loses leverage. Hand combat needs work, can get swallowed up. Speed is there, but doesn’t always translate to power. Not a natural bender, flashes.
Aruna is definitely a project, but a worthwhile one. Tremendously hard worker. Could compete for a spot on the practice squad.
NFL COMPARISON (per my judgement): Steven Means
Eagles snag a potential steal here in 6’1″, 230 lbs linebacker: Azeem Victor.
The Eagles have shown in the past that they are not afraid to pick players with some off the field issues (e.g. Corey Clement). Victor has been suspended for a DUI, breaking team rules, and for targeting. Broken leg at end of a very good junior season led to a horrible senior season. Overweight, looked sluggish on 2017 film in comparison with 2016 tape. Eventually lost starting job.
Looking at his 2016 tape, Azeem is a very intelligent player. He rarely gets caught on play fakes and quickly diagnoses. Very aggressive and physical hitter, can jar bigger players. Rarely allows runners to get past him, funnelling them to other players, make the play himself, or running them out of bounds. Disciplined on the backside to make sure play doesn’t cut back. Decent zone cover guy.
Victor could improve his man coverage skills, not overly quick and head doesn’t get turned around sometimes to see the ball. Can allow himself to get stuck on blocks by allowing blocker too much of his body.
I think the Eagles coaching staff and strong locker room capable of turning him around back to his 2016 form (also played with CB Sidney Jones). If he puts in the work, he can provide some nice linebacker depth and also contribute on special teams (played well on coverage units early in college career).
NFL COMPARISON (per my judgement): Kendell Beckwith[KEZHOG on BleedingGreenNation] Follow @EaglesFeast