In our 2.0 version of the Eagles' 7-round mock draft, there's a common theme: Versatility. Let's just get right to it.
Last week, Cooks told Philly.com that he can "do it like DeSean Jackson and do it better."
Monday morning, NFL Network played audio of Cooks standing behind his initial confidence. "I'm sticking to that comment and I'm working hard to make sure I can back that comment up," said Cooks. "I give credit where credit is due. Sammy Watkins obviously is a great player. Mike Evans is a great player. But at the same time I feel like I'm right there with those guys in that mix. Whoever gets me is essentially getting a #1 receiver, in my opinion."
I agree. I've written about Cooks at length, so I won't repeat what I've already written, but if you want to check out past Cooks articles from Philly.com, they can be found here:
Cooks does so many things well. He's outstanding at making plays after the catch, he makes tough catches in traffic, he's a good route runner, has great hands, and could potentially be used as a punt returner at the next level.
Speaking at the Maxwell Club Awards in Atlantic City last month, Chip Kelly emphasized that the Eagles signed Malcolm Jenkins because of his versatility.
"I think when you know when you're playing a team and that guy's always going to be the deep safety and that guy's going to be the down safety, when you play against guys like Peyton Manning, you better not always have the same guys doing the same thing," Kelly said. "So the more versatile your guys are, I think he can cover, he can play man because he's got the corner skills, he can also play free safety because he's got range. But he can also play down in the box.
"So the one thing about Malcolm we thought all along for us that he was the right guy we were looking for because of his versatility, and there were some other guys out there that are tremendous football players. But for what Billy was looking for and we were looking for on the defensive side of the ball, Malcolm just seemed to be the guy that, as we kept going through and analyzing everybody and figuring out who was the right fit for us."
That is a theme that has been consistent since the new coaching regime took over last offseason. The Eagles signed Connor Barwin, a very versatile OLB, and drafted DE/NT Bennie Logan with a 3rd round pick. In a year and a half, the Eagles have added three starters (Barwin, Logan, and Jenkins) known for their versatility to all three levels of their defense.
Christian Jones has good size, he can run, he can cover, he can tackle, and he can rush the passer.
Let's just start with his combination of size and speed. Here are two plays from Florida State's game against Clemson in 2012. There are two really impressive plays by Jones in this game. First, Sammy Watkins is a potential top 5 pick in this draft, and Clemson somehow gets him matched up 1-on-1 against Jones. Maybe a better throw would have been completed here, but watch Jones run nearly stride for stride with Watkins. This is about the best you can hope for from a 234 pound linebacker covering an elite WR. (Jones is #7).
And then on this play, look at the closing speed as the WR crosses Jones' face, and Jones has to accelerate to undercut the pass and knock it down. This is tremendous for a player his size.
Jones won't be asked to cover WRs in the pros, but he'll certainly be more than capable of running with any TE.
At the Senior Bowl, Jones was by far and away the best pass rusher in 1-on-1 drills among the ILBs in attendance. His versatility in that regard is where Jones becomes really intriguing as a potential target for the Eagles. In the 2nd half of the 2013 season, Florida State started lining up Jones at DE, and he looked the part. Watch the below game against NC State. Jones transitions seamlessly from rushing the passer from a 3-point stance on one play, to covering the seam from a LB spot on the next. This is extremely impressive versatility:
Jones is a player the Eagles could put on the field, and just leave him there for the entire game. With two highly athletic linebackers in Jones and Kendricks, Billy Davis would be free to show a lot of exotic looks, using his ILBs in all kinds of assorted roles.
With DeMeco Ryans slated to count for $6.9 million against the cap next season, expect the Eagles to address the ILB position in this draft, which is very deep.
Staying on that same versatility theme, Jaylen Watkins fits that mold. The Gators were absolutely loaded with CB talent in 2013, with Loucheiz Purifoy, Marcus Roberson and Vernon Hargreaves, so they moved Watkins to safety, and he played well. Now he'll likely be the first Gator DB drafted this year.
Watkins excels in press coverage, and he was excellent in that regard at the Senior Bowl. In fact, Fresno State QB Derek Carr singled out Watkins as the most difficult CB to throw against at the week of Senior Bowl practices.
Here's Watkins at CB in 2012 (before he was moved to safety) working against standout WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.
In the video above, Watkins' physical nature is obvious, and he'd be a tremendous fit as a versatile playmaker in the Eagles' defense.
Jerick McKinnon played some QB in a run heavy offense at Georgia Southern, but more than likely, he'll transition to RB in the pros, although some teams may view him as a DB.
Athletes like McKinnon don't come around very often. At the Combine, he showed a rare display of speed, quickness and power.
McKinnon first caught my eye on the first day of Senior Bowl practices. He took a handoff, broke free into the secondary, and absolutely trucked Florida State safety Terrence Brooks. That play drew the biggest oohs and ahhs of the day. From that point on, I was interested in how McKinnon would look in pass protection drills, since he had little practice at it playing in such a run heavy offense. To my surprise, he was better at it than most of the South team RBs.
He's also a very good blocker in the running game, and an explosive runner. Here's McKinnon against Florida last season. It's hard not to be impressed by him.
Lavelle Westbrooks and Jerick McKinnon were the focus of pro-day attention at Georgia Southern.
Westbrooks ran the forty in similar times to his combine performance. The players ran on grass, and most had Westbrooks clocked at 4.65s, though some watches did read 4.60s. He did a solid job in drills, but most scouts feel Westbrooks will be a last-day/late-round pick.
McKinnon stood on his combine numbers and looked good in both defensive back and running back drills. He was fluid, smooth and for the most part looked natural in the secondary. Westbrooks played some DB early in his GSU career.
The Dallas Cowboys ran the secondary drills while the Philadelphia Eagles and Oakland Raiders headed the running back drills.
I'm not sure how the Eagles would use McKinnon. Maybe he gives you a mix of skills. He's one part James Casey, one part Brad Smith, and one part Bryce Brown.
Johnson is CB with great size. One of the knocks on him was his lack of big plays in his college career at NC State. For his career, Johnson only had 3 INTs and 1 forced fumble. The other concern, at least before the Combine, was his speed. The video below is of Johnson against Clemson. There are a few occasions where Johnson is burnt on deep routes, although Clemson didn't capitalize on them.
However, Johnson ran a 4.45 at the Combine, a great time for any player, but extra impressive for a player his size. Any team who drafts Johnson will have to figure out why that timed speed didn't always translate to the field.
What you do see in the above video is a very good, and willing tackler. That is the kind of long, physical CB the Eagles targeted in free agency in 2013 when they signed Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams. If Johnson proves that his Combine time was misleading, the Eagles could also opt to move him to safety, as he played on the back end at NC State.
Last year, the Eagles brought in an athletic journeyman in Allen Barbre, who was a pleasant surprise as a versatile backup. Here's Barbre's spider chart:
Wesley Johnson played all three positions along the line at Vanderbilt, and has similar athleticism to Barbre.
Here's Johnson doing a good job against Jadeveon Clowney last season.
Additionally, Johnson gets fired up at halftime when things aren't going well. In the video below, I can understand "WE CAN BE THE BEST OFFENSE IN THE COUNTRY!!!" and "LET'S GO!!!" However, the rest of what he said was a complete mystery. Can anyone help me out with what he said?
Johnson is apparently a fan of Will Ferrell's speech in Old School.
OK, seriously though, Johnson could be a versatile backup at every position along the OL. Those guys can be valuable pieces who allow you to keep more players active at other positions on Sunday.
• Spider charts via the great Mockdraftable.com.
• Videos via the great DraftBreakdown.com.