We are roughly 40 days away from Roger Goodell stepping to the podium in Chicago and announcing the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. With free agency slowing down, team needs are in a bit more focus. Plus, pro days and individual workouts occurring all across the NFL landscape.
It is officially draft season, people. Get excited.
Mock drafts are an interesting exercise. Very rarely are they accurate because it is near impossible to figure out what all 32 teams are thinking and one trade can set off a series of picks that no one could have expected. In order to be as fair and potentially accurate as possible, I simulated all seven rounds of the draft, utilizing FanSpeak's mock draft simulator, and personally made the selections as the Philadelphia Eagles.
To be honest, I doubt the Eagles make any of these picks, but this exercise works as a way of giving you an idea of who will be available at different times in the draft and what they can offer Doug Pederson's squad.
Round 1, Pick 8 (8) – QB Carson Wentz, North Dakota State
Wentz is viewed by many to be the most skilled quarterback in this draft class. He's built like an NFL QB, standing 6'5" and weighing nearly 240 pounds, but some people worry about his ability to make the jump from an FCS school to the NFL. However, he ran a very sophisticated offense at North Dakota State and is very comfortable working his way through progressions.
Wentz is far from polished and could benefit from a redshirt year, sitting and learning from Pederson, Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel. He has the arm strength to make all the throws in the NFL, but he has a tendency to be a bit inaccurate on balls down the field.
It's doubtful Wentz falls to No. 8, but there is no way I was going to pass up a potential franchise QB. As of right now, the Cleveland Browns hold the second pick and are in need of a quarterback. The Cowboys and 49ers are sitting at four and seven, respectively, and each have their own quarterback needs. Although, Jerry Jones refuses to admit as much and Chip Kelly could make things work with Colin Kaepernick.
The Eagles would be wise to snap up Wentz if he drops to them if Pederson and Howie Roseman believe he is a future top-tier quarterback. The Eagles have other holes to fill, especially on the offensive line, but quarterback is the most important position and Wentz is the most talented QB in the draft.
TRADE: PHI trades a third-round pick and a fourth-round pick to NE for the 29th selection of the second round.
In order to move back up and regain a second-round pick, I parted ways with one of the Eagles third-round picks and a fourth and picked up one of the Patriots second-rounders in return. I would expect Roseman to move similarly if he sees an impact player slipping further and further in the second round.
Round 2, Pick 29 (60) – DT Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
Nkendiche would've been considered an absolute steal at the back end of the second round a few months ago, but his stock has dropped as of late. He was suspended for the Rebels bowl game after being found with marijuana in his hotel room and despite his elite athleticism, he never had more than eight tackles for loss or three sacks in a single season. He also never forced or recovered a fumble, nearly impossible for a three-year starter on an elite unit.
The two-time second-team All American is listed at 6'3", 293 pounds and he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.87 seconds at the combine, good for second-best among interior defensive linemen. He's a physical specimen and if the Eagles can unlock his potential and pair him up with Fletcher Cox, they will have a disruptive defensive line for the better part of the next decade.
He's a good prospect and there will always be a spot for disruptive defensive linemen, but his question marks make him a bit of a wild card. Or, as one NFC executive told NFL.com's Lance Zierlein, "He will not be on our board as a first-round option. If he slides, we'll see." If he slides, the Eagles should make a move and solidify their defensive line.
Round 3, Pick 14 (77) – G Joshua Garnett, Stanford
Garnett is a very talented guard and won the Outland Trophy in 2015, honoring him as the nation's top interior lineman. However, his limited athletic ability could really hurt his stock.
He has a mean streak and is strong enough to hold up at the point of attack, but he is a bit stiff in the hips, which hinders his ability to pull or setup correct footwork when run blocking. Listed at just 312 pounds, he is no mammoth, but some work with an NFL team, especially one that puts as big an emphasis on nutrition as the Eagles do, and Garnett's concerns could be easily squashed.
Because of the dearth of talent along offensive lines in the NFL, it wouldn't be surprising for a team to reach on Garnett sometime in the second round. But if he falls, he steps in and plays left guard for the Eagles on day one, and Pederson has his starting offensive line.
Round 5, Pick 14 (154) – CB Keivarae Russell, Notre Dame
Russell is an intriguing prospect and could be worth a late-round flier if the Eagles don't feel confident in their current group of corners. As I noted last week, the Eagles already have four guys competing for one roster spot, but it isn't often someone of Russell's caliber falls this far in the draft. He was a top running back recruit out of high school before switching to corner at Notre Dame. Russell missed all of 2014 due to "academic dishonesty" and the second half of 2015 after breaking his fibula in October.
Despite those injury concerns, Russell has the speed to keep up with some of the fastest receivers in the game down field and has played a lot of football against top competition. Standing 5'11" and weighing 192 pounds, he has struggled at times against longer receivers and doesn't make many plays on the ball.
With all that being said, you aren't going to get well-rounded, NFL-ready prospects in the late rounds. Russell is flawed, but he has potential and if he didn't break his leg, he would be going a couple rounds higher.
Round 5, Pick 25 (165) – OT Caleb Benenoch, UCLA
Benenoch has the ability to play tackle or guard, which could make him a valuable reserve early in his career. Scouts are worried about his strength, but he is a good athlete and possesses a frame that could stand to add some weight.
His lacking of strength could make Benenoch a good fit in Pederson's offense that is based around a lot of zone-blocking schemes, something that would fit into his skill set and allow him to find the field early as a top reserve lineman on the roster. If nothing else, he is at least better than most of the guys already vying for a backup spot on the roster, although that isn't saying much.
Round 6, Pick 13 (189) – MLB Antwione Williams, Georgia Southern
I've written at length about my concerns regarding the Eagles linebacking corps, especially up the middle and this pick would certainly go a long way to shoring up the depth at middle linebacker. There's a reason why Williams would be available in the sixth round, but he led Georgia Southern in tackles, tackles for loss, forced fumbles and sacks in 2015.
On top of his production, Williams is an athletic specimen. He's listed at 6'3", 245 pounds and he has a great burst when he correctly diagnoses a play. However, his issue is he doesn't correctly diagnose plays often.
Williams seems a bit hesitant at times and doesn't always play downhill. He almost plays cautiously at times, which results in a lacking of big plays. But since he is such a great athlete, his problems can be fixed if he's coached up correctly. In the sixth round, he's a low-risk, high-reward prospect.
Round 7, Pick 12 (234) – WR Robby Anderson, Temple
Ok, possible Temple-bias with this selection, but it isn't too much of a stretch. Unless, of course, you dislike wide receivers who struggle to catch the ball, in which case, just skip to the next pick.
Anderson missed all of 2014 with academic issues, but he was the Owls' leading receiver in 2013 and 2015. Anderson is a good deep threat and he recorded a 40-time in the low 4.3s at Temple's pro day last week. He isn't overly physical and weighs just 190 pounds, but his main issue is his inability to catch the ball, sound familiar? Anderson has made numerous circus catches, but he also has a habit of dropping routine balls.
If he can put on some weight and figure out how to hang on to the ball, Anderson has the ability to develop into a decent deep threat, a situational guy who can take the top off the defense a few times a game. If he's drafted, he could be stashed on the practice squad for a year while he bulks up.
Round 7, Pick 30 (252) – RB/WR D.J. Foster, Arizona State
Foster's versatility is so intriguing, he gets the nod with this selection. After playing running back for three years, Foster was bumped to wide receiver in 2015 and finished the year with 584 receiving yards and 280 rushing yards.
Foster's ability to play all over the formation will give Pederson an interesting weapon that could potentially create nightmare matchups for the defense. However, he is a bit small for a running back and a bit slow for a receiver, so his production may not translate to the NFL quickly, or at all. At the very least Foster can add some depth to the running back position, give the Eagles a Swiss-army knife of sorts and push Kenjon Barner for his roster spot.
Tucker Bagley is a columnist for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @tbagley515.