The Eagles have multiple holes in their aging defense. They need to inject youth into that side of the ball to avoid a steep drop-off when the likes of Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and Darius Slay decline or retire.
Furthermore, the Eagles need to prioritize improving the weapons around Jalen Hurts in his second year as a full-time starter. The receiving corps is in desperate need of improvement and depth, and the Eagles will take two in this mock draft. The position will also likely be explored in free agency to get a veteran presence on the roster.
Let’s explore the whole seven rounds for Philadelphia in the 2022 NFL Draft:
First Round – Pick 15:
David Ojabo – Edge – Michigan
Ojabo is fast. Like, really fast.
The edge prospect out of Michigan has all the traits of a premier pass rusher. He has a sensational bend off the edge and a terrific knack for spinning back towards the line if he gets too far upfield. He not only had 11 sacks and 12 tackles for loss, but also a remarkable five forced fumbles and three passes defended.
Look for Ojabo to become a sack and pressure machine for the Eagles. Whether the Eagles choose to stay in their 4-3 defense or transition to a 3-4, look for them to use him as their primary edge rusher. He will need to improve as a run stopper to be a defensive end, but he did post an above-average 70.2 PFF grade against the run. In contrast, he had a ridiculous 19% pass rush win rate.
Ojabo has Pro-Bowl-level talent. He could be considered for a top-10 pick, but his one year of production may be less desirable than more proven prospects.
First Round – Pick 16
Nakobe Dean – Linebacker – Alabama
Dean is a versatile prospect that should shine as the quarterback of Jonathan Gannon’s defense. The rush-four scheme will allow for the Alabama linebacker to read and react in zone and man coverage. He had a phenomenal 91.7 PFF (Pro Football Focus) grade in his final season of college.
Nakobe Dean had six sacks, two interceptions, five passes defended, and 10.5 tackles for loss last season. He contributed across the board and projects as a Pro-Bowl talent. He allowed only a 43.3 passer rating (PFF).
First Round – Pick 19:
Ahmad Gardner – Cornerback – Cincinnati
Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner did not allow a single touchdown in his college career. Not one.
Furthermore, in 2021, Gardner allowed only 122 yards on 37 targets. He had nine interceptions in his three college seasons. That stellar production may make him CB1 in the NFL Draft.
The Eagles are all but assured to let Steven Nelson walk. He will be a fantastic replacement across from Pro-Bowler Darius Slay to give the Eagles two premium corners. This will allow for Avonte Maddox to stay excelling in the slot and Zech McPherson to be a solid dime back in the rotation.
Sauce may not be used to playing in a heavy zone scheme but has a terrific frame that should allow him to flourish.
Second Round – Pick 51:
Daniel Faalele – Offensive Tackle – Minnesota
Faalele is incredible. At 6’9″, 380 pounds, the Australian born tackle is an absolute mammoth. Despite his incredible size, he can really move on the field.
Why would the Eagles grab Faalele when they have Jordan Mailata at left tackle and Lane Johnson on the right side? To slot the big man into the right guard spot to replace the huge Pro-Bowl shoes of Brandon Brooks. He can slide outside when Johnson retires.
Faalele is a vicious run blocker who plays nasty and finishes blocks well. His pass blocking is sound also, yet he can be aggressive in setting with edge rushers. Putting him at guard may help mitigate that while he learns the speed of linemen in the NFL.
With Faalele on the inside, the Eagles will continue their reputation as a nasty, physical run-blocking team.
Third Round – Pick 81:
David Bell – Wide Receiver – Purdue
David Bell is a nice complement receiver to Devonta Smith. He received an eight out of ten grade via PFF for his physicality as a receiver. Bell figures to be out wide opposite to Smith, allowing Quez Watkins to play in the slot.
His skill set is perfect next to Smith’s. His final season at Purdue yielded six touchdowns and 1,275 yards from 93 receptions.
The Eagles have a distinct need for receiving weapons on offense. Apart from Smith and Watkins, no other receiver had more than 300 yards receiving. To combat that, look for the Eagles to explore free agency options, as well as taking a former first-round projection in the third round.
Fourth Round – Pick 123:
Jelani Woods – Tight End – Virginia
Jelani Woods could be a reach in the fourth round. That being said, he could also be the perfect complement for star tight end Dallas Goedert.
The 6’7″, 275 lbs. Virginia product had a solid season in 2021. His phenomenal size bodes well for his run blocking potential in the NFL in his ability to handle edge rushers and linebackers.
He had 598 yards receiving from just 44 catches and eight touchdowns in 2021, after transferring from Oklahoma State. Woods will have a large role in the offense due to their running attack in two tight end sets.
Fifth Round – Pick 154:
Smoke Monday – Safety – Auburn
Monday is a versatile safety that can play in the box or coverage. He ended the 2021 season with a 77.0 PFF coverage grade and a 78.2 PFF run-defense grade. He was lined up all over the field, with 252 snaps in the box, 198 in the slot, and 293 deep.
The drafting of the Auburn safety means that the Eagles can inject some youth into their secondary. With aging veterans Rodney McLeod and Anthony Harris entering free agency, this provides potential depth or a starting replacement. Monday offers a much more versatile option than incumbent backup safety Marcus Epps who has been solid in run support but poor in coverage.
This offers fantastic value in the fifth round and gives the Eagles their fourth youthful injection to their ageing defence in the draft.
Fifth Round – Pick 160:
Brian Robinson Jr. – Running Back – Alabama
Starting running back Miles Sanders did not score a touchdown all of last season. Furthermore, Jordan Howard and Boston Scott are both aging and Gainwell showed flashes of brilliance but is not a thumper in the red zone.
Robinson gives them a bruiser who will excel in the red zone and short yardage situations for the Eagles to enable them to maintain their identity as a physical, relentless rushing attack.
Fifth Round – Pick 164:
Amare Barno – Edge – Virginia Tech
If you run a 4.36 in the combine, you get a look.
Barno had a 72.3 PFF grade in 2021 and managed to have 22 hurries and three sacks for Virginia Tech. He can add to the edge-rushing depth of the Eagles when Brandon Graham and Ryan Kerrigan potentially transition into retirement and Derek Barnett most likely suits up for another team.
He will most likely need to add weight to his 245 lbs., 6’6″ frame to not be moved in the pros. That being said, they will have to get their hands on the ultra-fast edge first.
This is most certainly worth the risk here.
Sixth Round – Pick 193:
Dai’Jean Dixon – WR – Nicholls State
The Eagles take a flier on a lesser-known prospect.
Dixon had 1,002 yards in ten games, with eight touchdowns and 71 catches. He could become the Eagles’ third or fourth option behind Devonta Smith and David Bell.
Dixon had a phenomenal overall PFF grade of 91.0 in the 2021 season. He has great size at 6’4″ and 200 lbs., which may make him a nice safety valve for Jalen Hurts when he escapes the pocket. This offers great value for a potentially high upside pick that they can take a flier on to help one of their weakest position groups.
Sixth Round – Pick 207:
Nick Ford – C – Utah
Ford offers sensational upside here. After not allowing a single sack in 472 passing snaps last season, he can replace Kelce after he retires. Furthermore, the Utah prospect only surrendered four hits and six hurries all year.
Ford was a two-time All-Pac-12 player in his Utah career and carries great upside. His frame is pro-ready at 6’5″, 317 lbs. and he will be able to learn from a superstar in Jason Kelce. His value here may be one of the best in the Eagles’ draft.