NFL Draft 2023: Could Eagles draft a 1st-round corner?

Is this the year Eagles finally draft a 1st-round corner? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles haven’t drafted a cornerback in the first round since they took Lito Sheppard out of Florida.

Over two decades ago.

But in his latest NFL mock draft, NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah gave the Eagles cornerback Devon Witherspoon from Illinois with the No. 10 pick.

Jeremiah worked for the Eagles in the early 2010s. While that was a long time ago, he understands the front office’s philosophies better than most. So why give them a corner?

“I just think Witherspoon is a stud,” Jeremiah said on a national conference call Friday afternoon. “And I think having been in that building and having seen Asante Samuel there, I think you could make an easy comparison there with just the play-making ability, taking the ball away. We’ll see what (James) Bradberry ends up doing in the offseason. I imagine he probably ends up getting paid somewhere. So if they don’t re-sign him, there’s going to be a need there as well. There’s a zillion free agents they’ve got to navigate around but that’s one I would think would be hard to retain.”

While Jeremiah compared Witherspoon with Samuel because of their big-play ability, but Witherspoon is certainly a more physical player and is an active tackler, even against the run.

Jeremiah’s point about Bradberry is a valid one. The Eagles have a ton of really important pending free agents and it seems pretty unlikely they’ll be able to re-sign Bradberry. So the Eagles could be looking for a cheap starter to pair with aging star Darius Slay.

The other reason Jeremiah mocked a corner to the Eagles at 10? The ultimate goal.

“I think if you’re where the Eagles are right now you’re thought process going into a draft, it’s not the division anymore, it’s not even the conference,” Jeremiah said. “It’s what do we have to do to win a Super Bowl? And what do we have to do to get off the field when we’re going to have to go up against Patrick Mahomes or whoever else is coming out of the AFC? Be it Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, those are the guys you’re going to have to go through to win a championship.

“In that game (Super Bowl LVII vs. the Chiefs), they couldn’t get off the field and I think they’ve got some really good pieces up front and I think finding somebody on the back end who could take the ball away, that could help their cause as well. That’s kind of my thought process there. Everything is about winning the Super Bowl and trying to beat these elite quarterbacks. And you do that with pass rushers and corners.”

That’s probably the defining theory Jeremiah went with in his latest mock draft to give the Eagles Witherspoon at 10 and edge rusher Felix Anudike-Uzomah out of Kansas State at 30.

If the Eagles want to go that route, they’ll have plenty of combinations to go Edge-CB or CB-edge.

And based on Howie Roseman’s history, there will also be plenty of movement. It seems unlikely the Eagles will stand pat and take players at 10 and 30.

If they use either one of those picks on a corner, it’ll be the first time for the Eagles using a first-rounder on one since 2002. They’ve had 17 first-round picks since that draft and this is how they’ve come out positionally:

Defensive line: 8
Wide receiver: 4
Offensive line: 4
Quarterback: 1

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