Mal Davis Eagles Mock Draft 2.0
After the blockbuster trade by Eagles GM Howie Roseman, I couldn’t help but get another crack at a mock draft. I’m utilizing the same process that I did with version 1.0, I did 10 mock drafts and below you’ll see the players selected the most times with each pick. This version is a bit different than 1.0, mostly because there are several players that are quickly moving their way up draft boards and may not be available when the Eagles pick at #15 and beyond.
Well, let’s get to it!
#15- WR Jameson Williams 6’1 1/2″ 179 lbs (other players considered- DT Devonte Wyatt and WR Drake London)
With pick #15 I still decided to go wide receiver, but instead of Drake London, I took former Alabama receiver Jameson Williams. Yes that’s two ‘Bama receivers two years in a row, but Williams adds an element to the Eagles offense they need. Despite tearing his ACL, Williams seems to be well on the road to recovery, and should be able to contribute Year 1. It’s well documented that Williams transferred from Ohio State to ‘Bama because he struggled to get playing time, but don’t let that be the reason you ignore his potential in the NFL. Williams can take the top of the defense, but also can run good routes and make plays after the catch. After minimal production as a freshman and sophomore, Williams blew up with a 79-1,572-15 stat line as a junior to make his claim as arguably the best wide receiver in the country.
Williams does come with his flags though, much like Devonta Smith, Williams comes into the NFL undersized and will need to add some weight to his frame to maximize his skillset. As already mentioned he also only has one year of production to his name, so it’s mostly projection at this point for him.
#18- Kaiir Elam– 6’1 1/2″ 191 lbs (other players considered- DE Arnold Ebiketie and iOL Zion Johnson)
Even in the 2.0 version I’m taking former Florida CB Kaiir Elam, because he fits a need and also is one of the better players available at this point. There’s been a lot of talk about former Washington Huskies CB Trent McDuffie becoming an Eagle, but his short arms are a turn off for me, and I’m not sure he can survive as an outside corner in the NFL. On the flip side Elam is built to be an outside corner, but also has the ability to step into the slot and make plays there as well. Elam’s ball skills are evident on tape and in the stat sheet, with his 5 INTs and 20 PBUs through his three years in The Swamp. Elam is fully capable of getting snaps as a rookie, and would be the heir apparent to Eagles CB Darius Slay down the road.
Like I mentioned in version 1.0, Elam struggles to commit the way he needs to in regards to tackling, which is a pretty big flag. He also needs to improve his coverage technique to avoid getting unnecessary pass interference and holding flags in the NFL.
#51- DT Travis Jones 6’4 325 lbs (other players considered- DT DeMarvin Leal and LB Christian Harris)
After skipping on defensive tackle in round 1, it only made sense to pounce on the opportunity to take former UCONN DT Travis Jones. Jones is a BIG dude that is capable of playing 0 technique and taking on multiple blocks, but also generating pressure on passing downs. Jones recorded 8.5 sacks and 19 TFLs through his 3 year career, showing his ability to make plays in the backfield. He also put on a show during the Senior Bowl, consistently winning one-on-one drills versus some very skilled interior offensive linemen using his immense power. He continued his post season productivity by putting up good numbers at the NFL Combine (considering his size) which only made it more obvious that Jones has real potential to be a good NFL player.
Jones will need to make sure that he keeps his weight and conditioning in check, because he could easily balloon to a bigger weight which would hinder his athleticism. He also didn’t play to his full potential at UCONN, leaving something to be desired from a film study standpoint. If Jones can put it all together though, he’d be a steal at pick #51.
Pick #83- OLB/DE Nik Bonitto 6’3 248 lbs (other players considered- DE Sam Williams and RB Kenneth Walker III)
I went back and forth between Nik Bonitto and former Ole Miss DE Sam Williams for this pick, trying to decide which pass rusher was the better fit. I decided on Bonitto because he’s the superior athlete, and has the opportunity to be special as a pass rusher in the NFL. Bonitto plays more of a stand up rush role, and would be an apprentice at the SAM position behind newly acquired Eagle Haason Reddick. Bonitto would also give Eagles DC Jonathon Gannon the opportunity to get creative with his pass rushers by using Bonitto as a designated pass rusher (DPR) in year 1. Bonitto has long enough arms (32 1/2″) that he could eventually develop into a more traditional defensive end and line up at the 7 technique. Bonitto leaves Oklahoma after 4 years with 19.5 sacks and 33 TFLs showing how disruptive he can be to opposing offenses.
Bonitto does come into the NFL with some questions about his best fit, as he’s a bit of a tweener at this point. He does provide value as a DPR but for him to reach his full potential he will need to get stronger at fending off blocks consistently in the run game.
Pick #101- CB Coby Bryant 6’1 193 lbs (other players considered- RB Brian Robinson Jr and TE Jeremy Ruckert)
The pick that Philly received from the Saints comes in clutch during this mock draft, as the Eagles are able to snag former Cincinnati CB Coby Bryant. In version 1.0 I took Bryant with pick #124, but in reality this is a more realistic spot for him. Bryant brings ball skills, tenacity, and excellent technique to the Eagles secondary, plus a ton of experience. Bryant was overshadowed by his homie Sauce Gardner, but Bryant has a chance to be a really good CB2 in the NFL. He and Kaiir Elam would be the corner back pairing of the future, and would solidify the position for the next several years.
There are questions about Bryant’s long speed, and if he’ll ever become a CB1 at the next level. He provided some clarity around those questions during the NFL Combine and Cincinnati’s Pro Day, but Bryant may never be a true lock down CB1 in the NFL. But as the 101st pick in the draft, he’s being selected to be a really good CB2, which he’s more that capable of evolving into.
Pick #124- RB Dameon Pierce 5’10 218 lbs (other players considered- RB Zamir White and DE DeAngelo Malone)
Dameon Pierce would be a great compliment to the Eagles current RB room, and would be able to eventually take over as the early down compliment to RB Kenneth Gainwell if/when RB Miles Sanders isn’t re-signed (or gets traded). Pierce was underutilized at Florida and comes into the NFL with plenty of miles on his tires. He is able to run between the tackles, bounce it outside, and also make plays as a receiver out of the backfield. Pierce reminds me a lot of Falcons RB Mike Davis, with his ability to make plays in all facets of the game, despite it not necessarily being flashy.
There are some questions around why Florida decided to never rely on Pierce as a work horse, as he never had more than 123 touches in a single season. It’s fair to wonder if Pierce can handle a workload north of 200+ touches, which he’d be asked to do if he ever took over as the lead back. Also Pierce was sufficient at pass blocking but needs refinement with his technique like most rookie runners.
Pick #154- G/C Luke Fortner 6’4 307 lbs (other players considered- iOL Thayer Munford and DT Haskell Garrett)
This time around I decided to pick another offensive lineman in the 5th round, but instead of former Ohio State iOL Thayer Munford, I chose former Kentucky iOL Luke Fortner. Fortner moved inside to center his senior year, but also has experience playing guard. He is a smart and technically sound player that provides value at multiple positions along the interior of the Eagles offensive line. He would be solid insurance at guard as a rookie, while ultimately becoming the starting center of the future once HOF C Jason Kelce retires. He would also be a part of overhauling an aging offensive line, to help the Eagles turn the corner with some younger productive players in the trenches.
Fortner will have his work cut out for him against power rushing DTs in the NFL, as he had his fair share of struggles in the SEC with the power rushers. He did hold his own more often than not, but there were times on tape where he would lose ground almost immediately because of his lack of lower body strength. Time in an NFL weight room, and working with Eagles OL Coach Jeff Stoutland could potentially do wonders for Fortner.
Pick #162- LB Damone Clark 6’2 1/2″ 239 lbs (other players considered- WR Justyn Ross and LB Malcolm Rodriguez)
Damone Clark is an interesting prospect because he was projected to be a Day 2 selection before being diagnosed with a neck injury that required surgery. Clark will most likely miss the entire 2022 season, which has his draft stock in a free fall. Philly isn’t a stranger to taking fliers on players with medical concerns however, so Clark shouldn’t be off their board completely. Clark was one of the best players on the LSU defense in ’21, and was given the #18 jersey, which goes to the leader of their defense annually. Clark makes plays at all levels of the defense, and his senior year he put up 135 total tackles with 15 TFLs, 5.5 sacks, 1 INT and 3 PBUs, highlighting his versatility.
Clearly the biggest red flag is Clark’s neck and if he will return to the player he once was after his spinal fusion procedure. He’s expected to make a full recovery, but neck injuries can be tricky, especially for linebackers who experience constant contact through out a game. If Clark recovers, he gives the Eagles a starting caliber LB for years to come, so the risk is definitely worth the potential reward.
Pick #166- TE Charlie Kolar 6’6 1/2″ 252 lbs (other players considered- CB Jalyn Armour-Davis and P Matt Araiza)
In any other draft TE Charlie Kolar probably gets WAY more visibility and love, but for whatever reason he has fallen down to the later rounds, to Philly’s benefit. Kolar is a big bodied tight end with soft hands and the ability to run almost every route and make just about every catch. Philly is in need of a solid TE2 behind starter Dallas Goedert, and Kolar more than fits the bill. He was the model of consistency over the last three years of his career at Iowa State, averaging a 52-681-6 stat line. Kolar would give Eagles QB Jalen Hurts another weapon in the passing game and a potential red zone mismatch.
Kolar leaves a bit to be desired in regards to run blocking though. Despite his good size, he doesn’t always use it to his advantage, occasionally getting pushed around by defensive ends and linebackers. Most TEs struggle in their transition to the NFL, trying to learn more complex blocking schemes, and Kolar would be no different. Realistically though, he’s being chosen for his plus receiving skills, so even if he just ends up an average blocker it’s a win for Philly.
Pick #237- QB Bailey Zappe 6’0 1/2″ 215 lbs (other players considered- DE Amaré Barno and LB Zakoby McClain)
With the 7th round pick the Eagles received from the New Orleans Saints, I chose former Western Kentucky QB Bailey Zappe. I mean what kind of QB factory would Philly be with out taking a developmental QB in the late rounds? While I’m personally a believer in Jalen Hurts, Philly also is in need of a back up QB that could spot start if/when necessary. Current backup QB Gardner Minshew is on the last year of his rookie deal, and it makes sense to dish him for a draft pick when a team calls. That leaves a vacancy for Zappe, who is coming off a ’21 season where he threw for a single FBS season record 5,967 yards and 62 TDs against 11 INTs. That’s an insane 5.6:1 TD to INT ratio! Zappe is accurate with his short and intermediate throws, and flashes enough athleticism to elude rushers in the pocket and even scramble when necessary. He didn’t just pick on lesser competition either, as he threw for a combined 853 yards and 6 TDs (with no INTs) against Michigan State and Indiana in ’21. Zappe could be a great addition as a 7th rounder, and maybe even get Philly a draft pick in a future trade pending his development.
While Zappe posted outlandish production his one year at Western Kentucky, he falls well short in the size department. At barely over 6 feet tall, Zappe is a bit small for an NFL QB, and may struggle to get his passes over bigger pass rushers. He also didn’t play consistently versus top talent in college, which brings into question how quickly he’ll be able to acclimate to the NFL and the faster pace of the game. Similar to Hurts, there are also questions about his arm strength, and if he he’ll be able to consistently fit passes into tight windows.
Much like in version 1.0, this draft provides the Eagles with players that can contribute right away and also developmental players for the future. This draft banks a bit more on Jameson Williams and Damone Clark bouncing back to their pre-injury selves, which clearly isn’t a guarantee. If however they do get back to their pre-injury form, both players were in the running to be the first player selected at their respective positions. Kaiir Elam, Travis Jones, Nik Bonitto, Coby Bryant, Dameon Pierce, and Charlie Kolar are all players that can fill roles early on in their careers, and Elam, Jones, Bonitto, Bryant, and Pierce all have the opportunity to grow into starters down the road. Hitting on these picks, plus also the future draft picks that Philly has to play with, presents an opportunity to build a young core that can make Philly into a potential Super Bowl contender.
Please let me know your thoughts/feedback on the mock draft, and keep an eye out for version 3.0 before the NFL draft!