Birds go heavy on defense in final Eagles-only mock

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In his final Eagles-only mock draft, Dave Zangaro has the Eagles going heavy on defense early.

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I haven’t been shy about my opinion that Patrick Surtain II is the top cornerback in this draft. But I think Horn is a good second option and has the potential to be a very good corner in the league. In my mind, my top two realistic options at 12 are Surtain and Jaylen Waddle. If it came down to Horn or DeVonta Smith, I’d take Horn. He’d start from Day 1 and would hopefully grow into the Eagles’ CB1. The one thing we always hear about Horn is how competitive he is and that really seems to fit the culture that Nick Sirianni wants to bring to Philly. That helps to make him an ideal first selection of the new era.

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For a while, as I’ve look at the Eagles’ options at 37, we’ve gone through WR-CB or CB-WR. But it’s very possible that the value doesn’t line up at receiver in the second round at 37 the way some would like. In this case, the Eagles can get a future starting defensive end with a ton of potential. Tryon had 8 sacks in 2019 but opted out in 2019. He’s not a finished product but has a high ceiling because of his size and speed and would have an opportunity to play a lot as a rookie behind Derek Barnett and Brandon Graham. At 6-5, 259 pounds, Tryon has the frame to fill out more.

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The depth of this receiver group isn’t quite as good as last year’s group but the Eagles will have options in the mid rounds. I thought about putting Amon-Ra St. Brown from USC here but instead opted for the more dynamic Rodgers. Both likely project as slot receivers at the next level and I like Rodgers’ explosion more. At 5-9, 212, Rodgers is a well-built, compact target. He’s the kind of receiver that Sirianni will love. Get the ball in his hands and then let him create. There might be some residual concern after an ACL tear in 2019 but he returned in 2020 and had a great season, leading his team in receptions with 77.

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The 6-5, 310-pound offensive lineman will either play guard or center in the NFL and projects as a starter at either spot. So if Jason Kelce retires next season, then the Eagles have a replacement. They can either plug Myers in at center or put him at guard and slide Isaac Seumalo in to replace Kelce. There are a few other mid-round iOL prospects that are intriguing, including Quinn Meinerz and Kendrick Green. But Myers was a sturdy starter for one of the top programs in the country. No need to overthink it.

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This isn’t a particularly deep class at defensive tackle but I really like Twyman. At 6-2, 301 pounds, he’s slightly undersized for an interior lineman but that doesn’t bother me too much. After all, an undersized DT named Aaron Donald came out of Pitt and has been OK. Just to be clear: Not comparing Twyman to Donald, but there’s plenty to like about him. He opted out of the 2020 season but had 10 1/2 sacks in 2019 and offers great upside as a pass-rushing interior lineman. It shouldn’t be a shock to see the Eagles use three of their first five picks in the trenches.

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I’m a little worried that Fields won’t last this late into the draft. It seems like teams are sleeping on him for some reason. But if the Eagles can get him in the fourth or fifth rounds I really like the value. At 6-0, 222 pounds, Fields is a modern-day coverage linebacker with sideline-to-sideline speed. After three seasons at Arizona, he finished his career at West Virginia and had a really good 2020 season with 88 tackles in just nine games. He’s obviously not a thumper at his size but has the athleticism to do what modern NFL defenses need.

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You’re probably familiar with Yeboah from his days at Temple. He began his career with the Owls before heading to Ole Miss for his final season. In 2020, he caught 27 passes for 524 yards and 6 touchdowns. He’s not a true dual threat tight end like Dallas Goedert and will be more of a “move” tight end at the NFL level. But that also means he’d be an ideal complement to Goedert in Sirianni’s offense.

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Mitchell is 5-10, 201 pounds and ran a 4.33 in the 40. He’s a good athlete and aside from running between the tackles was also a good receiver out of the backfield. He was the top back in a rotation, which helped limit his workload a little bit. He’d be a great rotational piece in the Eagles’ offense.

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Another guy who went to the Senior Bowl and impressed this year, Uphoff has been a hot name over the last few months. The 6-2, 209-pound safety comes from the FCS level and saw his 2020 season canceled. But he went to Mobile and was a standout among the other talented FBS players there. He’s not a finished product but to get a player in the 6th round with his tools and potential is a win.

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The Eagles lost Cameron Johnston in free agency this offseason and are left with just Arryn Siposs as the only punter on the roster. And a team with 11 picks can afford to use a late-round selection on a punter. Smith, a 6-4, 233-pound Aussie, was a Ray Guy Award finalist, averaging 43.6 yards per punt in his career. He also downed 91 punts inside the 20.

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At 5-10, 185, Vincent will be a nickel corner in the NFL after playing that position at LSU. Sometimes, it’s OK to know what you are. He ran a 4.38 at the LSU pro day, so you’re getting cheap speed in the seventh round. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Eagles take two or three defensive backs in this class.

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