Oh, have you paid attention to free agency yet? It’s a shame, because one thing we content providers have learned is that you, the consumers, will devour any fake draft we cook up. At this point in the post-combine offseason, we’re still a long way from the actual main event. So consider this less predictive than theoretical about the players and positions the Eagles are likely to like come draft weekend. Enjoy, sick person.
1st round (No. 5) — Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
Eagles send No. 10 overall pick, No. 30 overall pick and a 2024 second-round pick to Seattle in exchange for No. 5 overall pick and No. 37 overall pick
In this hypothetical, Howie Roseman uses one of his two second-round picks next year to move up five spots to a player who was atop Dane Brugler’s top 100 before word got out about his alleged involvement in a January car accident that slain teammate Devin Willock and recruiter Chandler LeCroy. In his post-combine top-10 mock draft, Mike Sando played out a scenario with the league’s decision-makers that had Carter completely out of the top 10. But time has a way of healing wounds in the NFL when it comes to top talent. Certainly, the Eagles will do their own research on Carter’s background.
From a roster-building perspective, the opportunity is too good for Roseman to pass up here. Having to anchor the team around a high-paid, soon-to-be quarterback with expectations of not picking near the top of the draft in the near future, it makes sense for Roseman to get a player with Carter’s presumed impact on the field. With the position being a priority for the organization, and Javon Hargrave and Fletcher Cox both slated for free agency, he’s an ideal fit. Maybe the team can get Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean to ease concerns about Carter’s transition to the league. And with so few mid-round picks this year and an assumed gain from compensatory picks coming in 2024, it makes sense to borrow from that pile of assets to get the deal done. They may even let Seattle choose whether they prefer the Eagles or Saints second round pick in 2024.
2nd round (No. 37) — Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
Suddenly, things are even less settled at cornerback for the Eagles than they looked 48 hours ago when the biggest concern was James Bradberry heading into free agency. Now that Darius Slay’s agent Drew Rosenhaus has has reportedly been given the go-ahead to continue trading, it’s possible that Philadelphia will have to trade both of their starting outside cornerbacks. But finding a long-term replacement for the 32-year-old Slay was already on Roseman’s to-do list. Here, he uses a high second-round pick from a hypothetical trade with the Seahawks to add Banks, who has tested as an elite athlete at the combine.
Brugler wrote: “A cover-up and wipeout corner, Deonte Banks looks like an NFL rookie when he trusts his technique. He has to make small adjustments to his game — like balancing his line of sight between the quarterback and running back — but he has the athleticism, physicality and ball skills to match up against NFL receivers.”
2nd round (No. 62) — Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
Enough defense. With this pick, Roseman is sticking to his way of using second-rounders with the future in mind. Lane Johnson will be 33 in May, and while Johnson has said he wants to play a few more seasons, Roseman will want a succession plan. Enter the massive Jones, who matches Jeff Stoutland’s stated preference for outstanding players. At 6-foot-8, 374 pounds, Jones is definitely that. As unrefined as Jones is, Stoutland University beckons.
3rd round (No. 94) — Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa
Asked in 2022 about picking supporting players at the top of the draft for a second straight year, Roseman said something to the effect that the longer he’s on the job, the more he learns not to overthink things in the draft. So maybe taking the tight end out of Iowa is as appealing as it obviously sounds.
The Eagles appear to be in good shape at tight end, with Dallas Goedert signed to a long-term contract and Jack Stoll and Grant Calcaterra on their rookie deals. With that group, the Eagles had the best 12-man offense in the league in 2022 by expected points per game. So why bother investing early? Partly because Goedert has only played a full season once in his first five years (as a rookie in 2018). After all, at 28, Goedert is the same age as Zach Ertz when Philadelphia drafted Goedert.
Before the combine, LaPorta was ranked as Brugler’s No. 6 tight end. “At a program known for producing NFL tight ends, Sam LaPorta finished his college career as Iowa’s all-time receiving leader at the position,” Brugler wrote. “While he won’t wow with his size or speed, LaPorta consistently makes himself available in the middle of the route with an athletic body rhythm and soft hands. Scouts also praise his competitive strength and professional mentality.”
4th round (No. 133) — Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
Eagles send Chicago fourth-round pick in 2024 in exchange for No. 133 overall pick
Wouldn’t you know it, Roseman is being traded in the fourth round and getting the same pick he sent to Chicago midseason in exchange for Robert Quinn. Borrowing again from next year’s draft list for the compensatory picks he’ll have, he finds a player on a Bears team that’s probably already swimming in picks after falling from No. 1 overall.
The Bears trade the No. 1 for the Panthers: Sources
The goal is a long-term, cost-controlled backup to Jalen Hurts, which we know the Eagles have already tried to acquire, first with Clayton Thorson and then with Hurts himself. Hooker could be gone sooner than this, but he is coming off a torn ACL in November and will enter the league at 25 years old. He’s actually seven months older than Hurts, so the Eagles really hit the cap jackpot here and veteran mentor.
7th round (No. 219) — Keaton Mitchell, RB, East Carolina
With what is considered a loaded running back class, it would make sense for the Eagles to select someone they think can step in and start from Week 1 in the second or third round. Absent that, they are turning late to a player with explosive upside in Mitchell, who topped 1,000 yards rushing in each of the last two seasons at East Carolina and ran the 40-yard dash in a blistering 4.37 seconds. The bad news is that Mitchell is 5-foot-9, 184 pounds, which explains why he’s theoretically free this late.
Round 7 (No. 248) — Anthony Johnson Jr., S, Iowa State
A four-year starter who moved to safety as a senior after playing cornerback for most of his career, Johnson was a team captain for an Iowa State program that was heavily involved with Nick Sirianni’s Eagles staff. As a freshman, Johnson’s coach was DK McDonald, Philadelphia’s current assistant defensive backs coach.
(Jalen Carter photo by Mark J. Rebilas./ USA Today)