The 2018 NFL draft is still more than two months away and the NFL Scouting Combine won’t even take place until next week, but it’s never too early for national college football experts to weigh in on whom they think the Eagles might select with the 32nd overall pick.
Obviously, this early out, don’t expect much accuracy. Mel Kiper’s second mock draft ahead of the 2017 NFL draft, released mid-February last year, ended up predicting only two picks correctly, and one of those (Myles Garrett to the Browns) was obvious. At the time, Kiper thought the Birds might select Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams, who ended up with the Chargers at the No. 7 pick (the Eagles ultimately selected defensive end Derek Barnett, whose fumble recovery late in the fourth quarter played a huge role in sealing the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory).
Regardless, it’s interesting to see which players the experts think the Eagles might be interested in. Kiper thinks the Eagles might select Texas A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk, a playmaker who goes by the nickname “Baby Beckham” because of comparisons with the Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. Kirk could survive to the end of the first round because of his size (5-foot-11) and the fact he’s coming off his worst season with the Aggies.
Here’s what NFL.com’s scouting report says about Kirk:
“Kirk is a well-built, mentally tough slot target whose game is built around pace more than explosiveness. His lack of speed and length make him less likely to impact games down the field, but his footwork, route tempo and hands should give him an opportunity to find catches underneath. Kirk’s ability to help in the return game is a plus, but the difference between average and good as a receiver could depend on finding the right fit.”
CBS Sports’ Will Brinson thinks Kirk will go sooner in the draft, and think the Eagles could end up selecting Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington instead. According to NFL.com’s scouting report, Washington is a speedy receiver capable of escaping press coverage, but lacks finesse when it comes to running routes and catching the football.
Overall, scouts compare Washington to Browns wide receiver Corey Coleman, the No. 15 pick of the 2016 NFL draft, who has been underwhelming in his two years in the NFL.
Here is an early roundup of the players national media pundits think the Eagles could end up selecting in the 2018 NFL draft:
Mel Kiper, ESPN (behind a paywall): Christian Kirk, wide receiver, Texas A&M
“The Super Bowl champs are built to contend for years to come, and they don’t have many immediate needs. I thought about tackle here, as veteran left tackle Jason Peters is coming off a torn ACL and MCL. But former fifth-round pick Halapoulivaati Vaitai showed promise down the stretch, and the offensive line as a whole played really well in the playoffs. The Eagles might part ways with Torrey Smith this offseason, which means a receiver at the end of the first round makes sense. At 5-11, Kirk isn’t a big target, but he can be a weapon in the slot and in the return game. UCLA’s Jordan Lasley is a receiver who could rise into the Day 1 discussion, too.”
Chad Reuter, NFL.com: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
“Not every NFL scout believes Jefferson is worthy of a first-round pick, but I think the Eagles could benefit from his size and athleticism inside or outside.”
Albert Breer, Sports Illustrated: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
“Jason Peters is 36 and expensive, and the Eagles have shown steadfastly that they want to keep Lane Johnson on the right side. So they get a year ahead on left tackle by plucking Miller here.”
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
“The Eagles could end up losing Torrey Smith in free agency and if they do, they need to find another weapon to take the top off opposing defenses.”
Nick Klopsis, Newsday: Mike McGlinchey, LT, Notre Dame
“Jason Peters tore his ACL and MCL in late October, and even though the Eagles signed him to a three-year extension in June, he’ll be 36 to start the season, so the Eagles may want to start preparing for the future at Carson Wentz’s blindside. Mike McGlinchey has started at left tackle for Notre Dame in each of the last two seasons, but he also has experience on the right side. He has excellent size at 6-8 ¼, 315 pounds, and he’s technically sound in both run and pass blocking.”
John Harris, Washington Post: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
“He can play any of the linebacker positions in Jim Schwartz’s defense. Mychal Kendricks played the entire season while Jordan Hicks was injured and only played six games in 2017. Even with those two in tow, the Eagles add a wildly athletic, 6-foot-4, 240-pound play-making defender to a unit that was already one of the best in the league.”
Walter Cherepinsky, Walter Football.com: Trenton Thompson, DT, Georgia
“Doug Pederson comes from the Andy Reid school of thought where bolstering the trenches is paramount. He spent last year’s first-round pick on Derek Barnett despite already having Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry, so I don’t think it’s out of the question that he could opt for a talented defensive tackle to play in a rotation with Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan. Both of those players stayed healthy in 2017, but what if that doesn’t happen in 2018? It would be great to have a terrific insurance policy like Trenton Thompson.”