2023 NFL mock draft: Landing athletic freaks in Eagles-only version
Landing some athletic freaks in Eagles-only mock draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
It’s hard to believe the NFL draft is less than a month away.
The Eagles have six total draft picks this year but there’s a very good chance general manager Howie Roseman will move around a bit.
For now, the Eagles have four picks in the top 100. They haven’t taken four players in the top 100 since 2013. So even after losing a ton of free agents, they’re still in a really good position to restock.
Here’s my latest crack at an Eagles-only mock draft:
1-10: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Even though the Eagles found a way to bring back Darius Slay and James Bradberry, it shouldn’t take the possibility of drafting a cornerback off the board. Especially if the Eagles are presented an opportunity to draft the top corner in this year’s class. I believe that honor goes to Gonzalez this year. Sure, there’s a case to be made for Devon Witherspoon or Joey Porter Jr. and it’s unclear how the Eagles have them stacked … but if Gonzalez is their top guy and he’s available at No. 10, then this has to be in play.
We know the history. The Eagles haven’t taken a cornerback in the first round of the draft since 2002 when they selected Lito Sheppard out of Florida. But cornerback is a premier position and recent success of top 10 corners like Sauce Gardner, Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn should make this an intriguing option. If you can get yourself a Sauce Gardner, you do it. Sure, this cornerback might not play immediately but the Eagles will have two starters over the age of 30 in 2023 and it’s time to think about the future.
Gonzalez (6-1, 197) spent his first two college seasons at Colorado and finished up in 2022 at Oregon with a really strong showing. He had 4 interceptions, 50 tackles and 7 pass breakups in 12 games for the Ducks.
And it seems very likely that Gonzalez’s best football is still ahead of him. Gonazlez is still just 20 years old and won’t turn 21 until June 28. And he’s an athletic freak who finished in the 89th percentile among CBs in the 40, 95th in broad jump and 96th in the vertical jump at the Combine.
1-30: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
There’s a very good chance the Eagles could trade this pick and move out of the first round to add some picks in the middle of this draft. That is especially true if there’s a quarterback still available like Hendon Hooker and a team wants to trade up. Think back to when the Eagles had the No. 32 pick in 2018 and the Ravens traded up to get Lamar Jackson. Getting that fifth-year option for a quarterback means something.
But if the Eagles stick at 30 and land Bresee (bruh-ZEE), they’d probably feel pretty good about that. Bresee (6-5, 298) would likely be an even higher pick had he not missed time in college for various reasons. He had a couple injuries, a kidney infection and missed a game after the death of his 15-year-old sister.
At the Combine, Bresee said his goal was to show the NFL that he was healthy. The 21-year-old did just that, running a 4.86 at 298 pounds. That will get some attention.
When he was on the field at Clemson, Bresee was productive. In 10 games in 2022, he had 3 1/2 sacks, 5 1/2 tackles for loss at two pass breakups. The Eagles bring back Fletcher Cox for the 2023 season but they lost Javon Hargrave. Bresee would be able to compete for a starting gig with Milton Williams but would play a lot as a rookie either way with the Eagles’ rotation at the position.
2-62: Sydney Brown, S, Illinois
There are a couple knocks against Brown. One is that he’s already 23 years old. The other is that he measured in at just 5-foot-10 at the combine. If the Eagles are willing to overlook those two things, they could land themselves a legitimate starting safety with a high ceiling in the second round.
If the Eagles are looking into these top cornerbacks then they watched Witherspoon at Illinois and I’m sure Brown really stood out. As a senior or 2022, Brown had 60 tackles, 3 1/2 for loss and 6(!) interceptions. He returned one for a touchdown and also returned a fumble for a touchdown. Brown was a big-play machine for Illinois and was a first-team All-Big Ten pick this past season.
And we’re sticking with that athletic freak theme in this mock draft. Brown absolutely smashed the Combine, which wouldn’t matter on its own. But in this case it backs up the on-field play.
3-94: Devon Achane, RB, Texas A&M
This is a pretty strong class for running backs, according to NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, who said he gave 13 backs a grade in the first three rounds. There are plenty of different options that will be available to the Eagles and I went with the most fun one. Maybe Achane (5-8, 188) doesn’t fit the mold of a bell cow back to build the offense around. But if the Eagles want to stick with this running back by rotation then Achene’s playmaking ability is extremely intriguing.
Achane is a legitimate track athlete and he showed that by running a 4.32 at the combine. That was the fastest of all the running backs in Indy this year and . He also ran a 10.14 in the 100m during the 2022 indoor season. During his junior season at A&M in 2022, Achane ran for over 1,100 yards with 8 touchdowns and caught 36 passes for nearly 200 yards and another three scores.
There’s no question that Achane is a big play threat because of his game-breaking speed but he runs way tougher than you’d expect from a smaller back. He can also catch out of the backfield, has great vision and was a huge threat in the kick return game as well.
7-219: Brodric Martin, DT, Western Kentucky
Can’t teach size and Martin has it. The hulking nose tackle is 6-5, 337 pounds, with long arms, and would be an idea rotational player working behind Jordan Davis in this Eagles defense. Martin reportedly had a top 30 visit scheduled with the Eagles but he’s still likely to be a Day 3 pick. He had a strong performance this year at the East-West Shrine Bowl.
Martin in 2022 had 31 tackles, 1 1/2 sacks and a forced fumble for the Hilltoppers in his final collegiate season. He began his career at North Alabama.
7-248: Asim Richards, OL, North Carolina
The Philly native played mostly tight end and defensive end at The Haverford School while also playing basketball in high school. But Richards went to North Carolina as an offensive lineman and ended up becoming a starter in his sophomore season. He started 11 of 12 games in 2020, all 13 in 2021 and all 14 in 2022 on the line.
Richards definitely made a positive impression at the Senior Bowl, where he came in at 6-4, 307 pounds with 34 1/8-inch arms and a wingspan of 83 1/4 inches.
UNCâs Asim Richards with a really nice block at RG along with Cincyâs Josh Whyle to open up a huge hole on this run. pic.twitter.com/2kSjAXGFoY
— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakDTR) February 1, 2023
While Richards was a left tackle for the Tarheels, he showed off his versatility in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, taking reps at guard and tackle. That’s a must for any late-round offensive lineman who wants to stick on a roster in the NFL.
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