A few weeks ago, I pointed out that mock drafts are insanely inaccurate, and basically a waste of time this early in the process. Today, I'm publishing an "Eagles only" 7 round mock draft, which makes me a complete and total sellout. With that disclaimer in place, my pre-Combine mock draft!
Big people beat up little people, or so I've heard. At 5'8, 190, Florida State's Lamarcus Joyner certainly qualifies as "little people," at least on paper. However, he does not qualify as "little people" in regard to his actual play. The following is one of Chip Kelly's "big people" quotes (emphasis is mine):
"You just can't say we want a 6'3", 220 pound safety. Well, there are none. Well, we're not going to play with 10. This is what we ultimately will continue to look for and continue to strive for, but you still have to make concessions. But I think you just can't drop your guard everywhere and just say, well, we're going to be a little bit short here, a little bit short here, a little bit short here, then all of a sudden your team is going to get run over. I have said big people beat up little people. We believe that."
If Lamarcus Joyner were 6'3, 220, he'd be a surefire top 10 pick. He might go top 5. Unfortunately for Joyner, he's 5'8, and there will be people who will write him off solely on his height. In Kelly's quote above, he worries about having too many undersized players, and getting run over.
The part about getting run over does not apply to Joyner.
I watched the following 5-minute highlight video three straight times. Highlight videos are obviously called highlight videos because they show... you know... highlights. But look at the abnormal number of crushing hits this little dude delivers on bigger players. It's almost comical. Joyner starts hurting people around the 1-minute mark:
While Chip Kelly's "big people, little people" philosophy is sound, does the player in the video above strike you as a guy that gets run over very often? I'll answer that for you. He doesn't. The reality is that Lamarcus Joyner is one of the biggest hitters and most physical players in college football. He's not some shrimp that is going to get pushed around at the next level.
Beyond the question of size and physical play, Joyner is simply a baller. He played safety in 2011 and 2012, and moved to CB in 2013, with a lot of slot corner responsibility.
In 2013, Joyner was all over the stats sheet. He had 69 tackles (many of them painful), 2 INTs, 5.5 sacks, 3 hurries, 3 forced fumbles, 7 tackles for loss, 4 PBUs, and he returned kicks. He is also a hustler, epitomized by the following play:
He excelled as a safety. He excelled as a slot corner. He excelled as a blitzer. He's fast. He's vicious. He's smart. He was considered the leader of a stellar defense that won the BCS National Championship. He is as versatile a player as you can possibly ask for, and he makes game changing plays on a regular basis. If you can get past his height, which is monumentally misleading, Joyner is the best safety in this draft.
I wouldn't even think of this as a need pick because of how much I like the player, but when we think of the Eagles defense and its needs, we think of the following:
• Pass rush needs to improve.
• Desperately need a safety.
• Need another player other than Brandon Boykin who can play the slot.
Joyner just happens to be an outstanding safety, who plays the slot like it's his primary position, who has a knack for getting to the QB.
Screw his height. Give me the baller who is going to make a lot of teams look stupid for passing on him.
Whew... I need some water.
Landry caught 77 passes for 1193 yards (19th in the nation) and 10 TDs last season, despite sharing targets with stud WR teammate Odell Beckham Jr. Here is CBS' Dane Brugler's analysis of Landry:
Above average hands-catcher with quick reflexes and ball skills to pluck fastballs away from his body. Strong hands and very good in contested situations - uses his body and arms to out-muscle defenders. Excellent hand-eye coordination. Nice job catching the ball in stride with a little wiggle after the catch - deceiving moves, balance and toughness and not an easy guy to tackle. Fearless and resilient pass-catcher over the middle and in traffic - very determined.
Always looking for someone to block. Led LSU in catches and receiving scores the past two seasons. Good special teams coverage experience.
Does that sound like a guy who could take over for Jason Avant in the slot if the Eagles decide not to retain him?
The WR position is looooaded with talent this year, so a player like Landry could realistically slide to the Eagles at 54, when he otherwise wouldn't in a less stacked WR draft. Highlights:
Landry is also a former 5-star recruit out of high school, and the Eagles have a history of acquiring former high school standouts.
Like Lamarcus Joyner above, Jordan Zumwalt hurts people. At the Senior Bowl, a receiver running across the middle after a reception was absolutely decleated by Zumwalt. You're not really supposed to hit in those practices, and Zumwalt was reminded of that after he destroyed the receiver, but it was probably the most memorable play of the day. Here's Zumwalt laying the hammer down on Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas:
DeMeco Ryans' future with the Eagles is uncertain, even if he agrees to take a paycut. The Eagles will need to begin grooming an ILB to pair with Mychal Kendricks, and Zumwalt could be a physical presence in the middle of the D.
When you watch Clarke's games in 2012 and compare them to 2013, there is a noticeable difference in his play both on the field and in the stat sheet. First, the stats:
The number that jumps out is Clarke's 17 tackles for loss last season, a very impressive number.
The other thing that jumps out is Clarke's impressive size, at 6'6, 271. Over the last 2 years, Clarke had 7 batted passes at the line, which is something the Eagles value. Batted passes are more of a product of awareness as opposed to height, but Clarke's added height certainly doesn't hurt.
I liked the following consecutive plays at the 8:25 mark below. First, Clarke keeps his eyes on the QB while rushing, reads bubble screen, gets his hands up in the passing lane, makes the QB double pump, which almost leads to an INT by the CB. Then on the next play, TCU tries to block Clarke with a RB (which isn't going to happen), but more impressively, watch the bend and balance to stay up continue to hunt the QB. Nicely done (via draftbreakdown.com):
Clarke is also thought of as a good character guy, who is thought of highly by the West Virginia coaching staff. He expects to pursue his masters in forensics. The Eagles have shown that they are placing a high value on character under Chip Kelly. He is also a player used to playing the read and react style on DL play that the Eagles employ with their 3-4 two-gap scheme.
Last season, the Eagles broke a record for the most plays of 20+ yards in a single season, formerly held by the "Greatest Show on Turf" Rams. In 2013, Gillmore was a down the field threat for Colorado State, catching a pass for 20+ yards in 8 of 14 games. Can he run after the catch? Yep.
Gillmore was also a late addition at the Senior Bowl. He stepped right in and made several catches down the field in practice, and then had 5 catches for 61 yards and a TD in the game.
Last season, the Eagles kept 4 TEs: Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, James Casey, and in case you forgot, Emil Igwenagu. While TE may not be a high priority this offseason, this would be good value for Crockett, and the Eagles could add a playmaker at a position that may eventually become more prominent in the Eagles' offense.
In 2012, Brandon Boykin broke his leg at the Senior Bowl and the Eagles were able to draft him in the 4th round, which was an absolute steal. In 2014, they may find themselves in a position to do the same with Aaron Colvin.
At the 2014 Senior Bowl, Colvin tore his ACL. A torn ACL is far more serious than a broken leg, but if the Eagles really like him and are willing to be patient, they could draft him with the intent of Colvin basically being a rookie in 2015. They've done this in the past, unsuccessfully, with Wisconsin CB Jack Ikegwuonu, who they drafted in the 4th round in 2008. Unless he's a bona fide stud player, the 4th round is too early to draft a guy with a torn ACL, but if Colvin is still available a little later, it could be a long term value play for a player who was getting some buzz as a potential late 1st round pick before he got hurt.
In terms of his fit in Philly, the Eagles need depth at CB. Colvin won't help with depth in the short term, but he could be a player who eventually takes over as a starter 2 or 3 years down the road.
If the Eagles don't believe Matt Barkley is ready to serve as the #2 to Nick Foles, the Eagles could try to sign a veteran QB in free agency. If they do believe in Barkley, Chip Kelly could look to bring in a late round project to groom as the #3.