Two weeks ago, we kicked off draft season with our first mock draft. With just three weeks separating us from the start of the 2016 NFL Draft, it is time to take another look at some of the prospects who could be donning midnight green at the start of their NFL careers.
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, we 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, all of these predictions are long shots, 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): RB Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State
Elliott is a flat-out beast. plain and simple. He is a complete back that is worthy of a top-10 pick. The Eagles biggest hole is on their offensive line, but those slots can be filled later in the draft. With a top pick, the team needs to look for a top talent, and that is Elliott. He can run between the tackles, is a plus blocker and is a capable receiver out of the backfield. Convention says you don't take running backs in the top-10, but an exception can be made for a guy of Elliott's caliber, especially when the Eagles running back situation is very murky after 2016.
Round 3, Pick 14 (77): G Christian Westerman, Arizona State
Westerman is a very athletic interior lineman who played left guard for the Sun Devils last year. He could immediately slide between Jason Peters and Jason Kelce on the offensive line and solidify the starting group. Westerman excels at zone blocking and can utilize his quickness to pull on screens and outside runs. He is a great foil to Brandon Brooks, who is a mauler in every sense of the word. Pick Westerman, and four spots on the Eagles offensive line are taken care of for the foreseeable future.
Round 3, Pick 16 (79): DT Chris Jones, Mississippi State
Jones may not be as highly-touted as the last defensive tackle the Eagles took from Mississippi State, but he is a good athlete with tremendous measurables. Standing 6'6" and weighing over 300 lbs, Jones is quick off the ball and has the ability to penetrate and disrupt things in the backfield. The defensive line isn't the Eagles biggest area of concern right now, but with the exception of Fletcher Cox, none of their defensive tackles are proper fits in a 4-3 defense. Jones can, at minimum, give them another piece that can rotate with Cox and Bennie Logan.
Round 4, Pick 2 (100): LB Deion Jones, LSU
Double-dipping on SEC defensive players named Jones, Deion is an uber-athletic outside linebacker who only started one year in college, but has a lot of experience on special teams. Jones could excel as a three-down linebacker and specializes in pass coverage. He needs a bit of work shaking off blockers in the run game, but with Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks already penciled in as the starters for 2016, he can afford to sit and learn for a year, while tearing it up on special teams.
Round 5, Pick 14 (153): WR Tajae Sharpe, UMass
Still just 21-years-old, Sharpe put up big numbers for the Minutemen in 2015 and was named second team All-American by the Walter Camp Foundation. Sharpe led the nation in receptions-per-game and has great footwork, which allows him to shake tight coverage, both on the outside and in the slot. Sharpe is still a bit too skinny and could struggle against more physical NFL corners, but with his young age, he stands a chance to add some bulk to his frame and develop into a solid deep threat in the NFL.
Round 5, Pick 25 (164): T Brandon Shell, South Carolina
Shell played four years in SEC and held up well to the competition level. His limited athleticism makes him a tough fit at left tackle, but he could work his way into being a solid right tackle if he is able to clean up his footwork. He excels in the run game, but doesn't maul defensive players as often as you would like to see from a guy his size. Still, his body of work and measurables make him worthy of a day three selection and a back up spot on the roster.
Round 6, Pick 13 (188): QB Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Hogan just screams shades of Matt Barkley on his tape. An undersized quarterback with a limited arm, Hogan is an ultra-competitive leader who is worthy of a late-round flier. Hogan also struggles with accuracy down the field, but he has a certain amount of potential in a west coast offense. He may never amount to much of a starter and could be a career backup, but this late in the draft, taking a shot on the QB high on intangibles isn't the worst thing in the world.
Round 7, Pick 12 (233): LB Antonio Morrison, Florida
With the exception of Jordan Hicks, the Eagles have no other true middle linebackers on their roster. That's especially scary when you consider Hicks's extensive injury history. Enter: Morrison. The Florida product is known for his unmatched intensity and work ethic, noted by his speedy recovery from a severe knee injury following the 2014 season. Morrison is exceptionally quick and aggressive, but may lack the size and instincts to truly play the middle in a 4-3. Either way, the Eagles have a massive hole up the middle, and Morrison can fill it.
Round 7, Pick 30 (251): CB Juston Burris, NC State
Burris in the seventh round is an absolute steal. Listed at 6'0", Burris has good length for an NFL cornerback and started three seasons for the Wolf Pack. He compiled a 34 percent completion rate and just one touchdown on 44 targets in 2015. Burris plays a physical brand of football and isn't afraid to step up and help out in the run game. He had just three interceptions in three seasons, but his toughness and versatility make him a good backup cornerback who can assist on special teams.
Prospect Rewind: Reveal
This week's answer: Malcolm Jenkins
Jenkins was considered a shutdown cornerback when he was coming out of Ohio State, winning the Jim Thorpe award his senior year. However, after a rather slow 40-time, he fell to the Saints at 14 and was converted to safety after just one year at cornerback.
Jenkins ability to come up and cover in the slot certainly helped the Eagles last season when the traded Brandon Boykin and JaCorey Shepherd went down with a knee injury. Instead of deploying a traditional nickelback, Jenkins was used as the third corner and Chris Maragos or Ed Reynolds slid in next to Walter Thurmond over the top. With the addition of Rodney McLeod, Jenkins should get more opportunities to play near the line of scrimmage while McLeod patrols centerfield.
Tucker Bagley is a columnist for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @tbagley515.