What the Philadelphia will do in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft is anyone’s guess at this point. We’ve heard about a few targets they like, but Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas have talked them up so much they either believe they won’t be on the board at 14 or it’s a total smokescreen. The players they have been linked to the most have been Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley and Missouri defensive end Charles Harris.
Usually I can narrow a list down to 5 players I think the Eagles might draft. Back in 2015 my feeling was it was either Nelson Agholor or Byron Jones. Last year we all knew it was Carson Wentz. This time around it’s so wide open I had to extend my list to 10 potential players the Eagles could take. Some are players who would need to slip a bit and a couple others are players they would target in a trade down scenario
Here are my 10 favorite Eagles prospects they could take in the first round :
1) Derek Barnett DE/Tennessee- Barnett has become one of the most polarizing conversations leading up to this draft. Some people, like me, absolutely love this kid and would bang the table in the draft room for him. Others think he was built to succeed in college only and has bust written all over him.
I don’t see bust potential in his game at all. He ran a 6.95 3-cone, which I see as a better indicator of edge rusher success than the 40 time. It’s not a straight line from the edge to the quarterback so quick feet and the ability to change direction quickly will give offensive tackles far more fits.
His combine was very similar to Joey Bosa’s and Barnett’s frame will allow him to play closer to 270 without losing any of that elite quickness. I love his fit in wide-9 sets and he should be able to produce right away. It’s also encouraging for Eagles fans that Barnett broke Reggie White’s career sack record at Tennessee.
2) Corey Davis WR/Western Michigan- He’s Antonio Brown with a 6’3 frame. He separates quickly, he can beat you over the top and he is so dangerous after the catch. He’s also really physical on contested catches so you get a complete package at wide receiver. Had he been healthy enough to workout at the combine or pro day I believe he would be a consensus top 5 pick. Playing against lesser competition also hurt his case a little bit.
3) O.J. Howard TE/Alabama- I was trying to think of a tight end entering the draft in my lifetime that I liked as much as Howard and I came up with nobody. Don’t get me wrong, their have been better receiving tight ends than Howard, Vernon Davis is an obvious one, but Howard is both an impressive athlete and outstanding blocker for the position which is extremely rare.
I know the Eagles already have Zach Ertz, but Howard would allow the Eagles to go with more two tight end personnel and still be able to stretch the field and keep the threat of the run game. The more guys you can have on offense that can do multiple things well, the harder you become to defend.
4) Christian McCaffrey RB/Stanford- Another offensive weapon that is just a threat in the run game as he is in the passing game. Out of the backfield he requires immediate attention because of his speed and because of his elite quickness he is an impossible match-up in the slot.
What gets overlooked with McCaffrey is how good of a runner he was in college. He proved his durability, vision and patience at Stanford and consistently produced on short yardage runs against physical defenses.
5) Jonathan Allen DT/Alabama- Once believed to be a top two pick, but because of his weight at the combine(285) and concerns about the long-term durability of his shoulders there is a chance he slides a little bit in the draft.
The concern with Allen is he has the frame of an ultra quick tackle, but he plays more like a two-gap run stuffer. Allen is a very well-coached lineman who can play end and tackle, one gap or two and is a solid pass rusher and run stuffer. Pairing him with Fletcher Cox at tackle would be a lot of fun and is not something the Eagles would pass up.
6) Charles Harris DE/Missouri- Yet another defensive end that Eagles fans are really split on, but I’m a fan. Just for context, I don’t love every edge rusher in this class. I think Ryan Anderson would be awful with his hand in the dirt, Tak McKinley can only win with speed and Trey Hendrickson is really more of a sub-package edge rusher at this point. It’s important to know that so you aren’t trusting the scouting work of someone who loves every college player like a Jon Gruden.
What I love about Harris cannot be measured at the combine, where he tested pretty poorly. He’s a powerful edge player who is still learning the game. He didn’t start playing football until his junior year of high school. Before that, he was a boxer and it shows when you see his strong hands and agile feet. He also has a devastating spin move that will only get better.
7) Taco Charlton DE/Michigan- Charlton has been a forgetten prospect when it comes to the edge players, but he’s not far behind from Myles Garrett, Barnett and Harris. He’s not the athlete they are, but he’s a lot stronger, longer and has a terrific bend for a bigger end. He was consistently the biggest impact player on defense for Michigan, which is saying a lot when you consider who else was on that defense.
8) John Ross WR/Washington- Elite speed, quickness and a damn find route runner as well. Ross would probably be a top 10 lock, maybe even a top 5 pick if it wasn’t for his injury concerns. He’s had multiple shoulder and knee injuries and he is coming off recent surgery. The medical checks he did with each team that brought him in for a visit are going to be crucial. I know the Eagles are interested in him and they are weary of his durability, but you can probably say that about every NFL team.
9) Adoree Jackson CB/USC- You can view him as a serious target at 14 or only if they trade down if you want, but I believe he will be a serious target either way. If you think this kid is just a speed corner, then you clearly haven’t watched his tape. That’s what I expected to see, but he loves the physical aspects of the game as well.
He can press, he is solid in run support and on interception and kick returns he fights for extra yards. He’s still a raw player who is learning how to be a complete corner, but he’s already outstanding at jumping routes and holding his own in single coverage. He needs to get better with his footwork, positioning and getting a better feel for zone coverage, but I love the rest of his game enough to believe he can start on the outside from day one.
10) Garrett Bolles OT/Utah- I threw Bolles in here because I love his game and I’m not high on Halapoulivaati Vaitai as an eventual full-time starting offensive tackle. I think the coaching staff feels differently and sees Vaitai as the future starting right tackle when Lane Johnsn takes over at left tackle for Jason Peters in the the next year or two. But, I disagree so we are going to talk about Bolles in the first round, plus you can never have too many good offensive tackles in this league.
Bolles was easily the best athlete in his position group. He ran a 7.29 3-cone and had a 10 yard split of 1.71, both of which were better than a lot of defensive ends and he did it at 297 pounds.