PHILADELPHIA – A lot will happen between today and the 2016 NFL draft. Players will rise and fall based on the scouting combine, private workouts, pro days and the phases of the moon.
Todd McShay’s first mock draft is most interesting because it is based entirely on what players have done on the field during their college careers. It is a peek at how the Class of 2016 shapes up before the coached-up combine performances get into the mix.
In this mock, the Philadelphia Eagles have the 20th pick, just as they did last year. They used the 2015 pick on wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who has had an underwhelming rookie season so far. Hampered by a high ankle sprain, Agholor has caught 19 passes for 225 yards. He caught his first touchdown pass, a 53-yard deep ball from Sam Bradford, Sunday against Buffalo.
This year, McShay projects the Eagles to take Louisville defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins. That’s an interesting pick for a couple of reasons.
First, the Eagles took a defensive player from Louisville just two years ago in the first round. Outside linebacker Marcus Smith has not exactly paid first-round dividends in his two seasons so far. Smith has been on the field for 80 defensive plays this season, just 8 percent of the Eagles’ total.
The second interesting element is the Eagles’ relative depth along the defensive line. They have two young defensive tackles in Bennie Logan (25) and Beau Allen (24). Their defensive ends, Fletcher Cox (25) and Cedric Thornton (27), are also on the young side.
But the 6-foot-2, 303-pound Rankins has six sacks for the Cardinals this season. He can move around on the defensive line, showing versatility the Eagles coaching staff values. So it’s not a far-fetched projection at all.
The Eagles’ more obvious needs are along the offensive line. McShay projects four offensive tackles among the first 18 picks in this draft. He doesn’t have any more going in the first round.
So the Eagles would either need to have one of those top-tier tackles slide down to them, or they’d have to become enamored with another offensive lineman over the next few months.
Chip Kelly might be interested in adding a promising quarterback, but again, there will be a couple of them in the top five picks. After that, there’s a drop-off. McShay projects North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz at the 30th pick of the draft.
Would they bypass a late-round quarterback for another Louisville defender? You never know.