NFL mock draft 2022: Home run threat and a ton of defense in Eagles-only mock

The Eagles last week made a major trade with the Saints to pick up future draft capital and in the process shook up the mock draft world.

And now with just a couple weeks before the draft, it’s a whole new ballgame.

The Eagles traded away one of their first-round picks but still have two in the teens and 10 overall.

Here’s my latest shot at an Eagles-only mock draft:

1-15: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

Yes, there’s some risk involved with taking Williams, who tore his ACL in the National Championship Game. But Williams appears to be ahead of schedule in his rehab and there’s a decent chance he’ll be ready for Week 1. This torn ACL isn’t a good enough reason to avoid Williams because guys come back from ACLs pretty routinely in 2022. And as long as Williams checks out medically, he’s a slam dunk first-round pick and not a stretch at all at 15.

Because he wasn’t able to take part in the pre-draft process, Williams has been somewhat forgotten the last couple months. But if he was able to test, I have no doubts he would have been very good. And my guess is that the GPS data NFL teams have will show that.

Williams (6-1, 179) transferred out of Ohio State for the 2021 season and immediately had a standout year catching passes from Bryce Young at Alabama. This past season, Williams caught 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns. Yes, he had a few drops, but his yards-per-catch average of 19.9 was elite and he’d give the Eagles’ the type of deep threat that could completely change their offense.

In looking for the right complement for DeVonta Smith, most folks have become hung up on the idea of ​​getting a big-bodied player. I get that. But the key for me is finding a receiver who can make a huge impact without needing a ton of targets. Because in the Eagles’ offense, we know Smith and Dallas Goedert are going to gobble a lot of them up. So having a player like Williams, who can change games with one play, makes a ton of sense to me.

1-18: George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue

Maybe there’s a chance Jermaine Johnson II makes it to 15 or maybe the Eagles would be willing to trade up for him or Kayvon Thibodeaux. But in this mock draft, we’re assuming both of them are gone before the Eagles’ picks come up. Don’t worry. Landing Karlaftis at No. 18 is still a very good value pick.

Karlaftis (6-3, 266) is a speed-to-power rusher who was thought to be a top 10 pick not that long ago. What has changed since then? Not much actually. Karlaftis is big and strong enough to take some inside snaps but he’d primarily be an edge rusher in Jonathan Gannon’s defense.

The Eagles clearly need more help rushing the passer after a paltry 29 sacks as a team in 2021. They took a nice step toward fixing that problem by signing Haason Reddick to play their SAM position, but the work can’t be done yet. Karlaftis can step in immediately as a starter or as a high-snap rotational defensive end in Year 1.

Karlaftis is also very young. He just turned 21 last week and began playing football later than most of his draft counterparts. Born in Greece, Karlaftis was a high-level water polo player in his home country and didn’t begin playing football until he moved to the United State as a young teenager. But his work ethics and commitment are legendary at Purdue, where he moved in next to the team facility.

2-51: Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA

As tempting as it was to give the Eagles Clemson CB Andrew Booth Jr. in the first round but I thought better than to draft two players who are currently injured. And there will be some secondary options in Round 2, including some safeties and corners. Instead of a safe pick, I went for a big swing.

Woolen (6-4, 205) definitely has some boom-bust potential as a high-round pick but it’s hard to ignore the upside. Even at 205 pounds, Woolen ran an incredible 4.26 at the combine and had a vertical jump of 42 inches. Yes, he’s a work in progress but he has all the tools to become a star player in the NFL.

Woolen began his career at UTSA as a receiver but flipped to defense in 2020. If the Eagles really believe in DBs coach Dennard Wilson (and they seem to) Woolen could develop into a really high-level starter. Re-sign Steven Nelson and prepare Woolen for the 2023 season.

3-83: Channing Tindall, LB, Georgia

It was easy to lose sight of Tindall on a Georgia defense that boasted several first-round picks. Heck, he’s most likely going to be the third Bulldogs linebacker taken after Nakobe Dean and Quay Walker. But because of having those guys ahead of him, Tindall flew under the radar as much as possible for a player on the best defense in the nation.

Tindall (6-2, 230) isn’t the biggest guy but he has that necessary sideline-to-sideline speed (4.47) in the modern NFL. He would fit as an off-ball linebacker in Jonathan Gannon’s scheme but could also offer some pass rush ability; he had 5 1/2 sacks in 2021.

It’s also worth noting that Tindall had an impressive week in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. The Eagles have a history of drafting top Senior Bowl players.

3-101: Bryan Cook, S, Cincinnati

If the Eagles wait this long to address the safety position and walk away with Cook, it would be a pretty nice win. Cook (6-1, 206) has the potential to be a plug-and-play guy as a rookie. He didn’t test at the combine or his pro day because of a minor shoulder injury.

Cook was fantastic in 2021, starting 14 games and compiling 96 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 11 pass breakups and 2 interceptions. He should have the flexibility to be an interchangeable safety in Gannon’s defense. In some ways, he’s a throwback with his physical nature but is also athletic enough to thrive in today’s NFL.

The Eagles clearly need help at the safety position. They brought back Anthony Harris for 2022 but still need another starter.

4-124: Jesse Luketa, LB/Edge, Penn State

I don’t exactly know where Gannon would play Luketa, but I’ll let him figure that out. Because getting a player like Luketa in the fourth round would be good value, landing one of the most intriguing players of this entire class.

Luketa (6-3, 253) can play some off-ball linebacker and he can rush the passer from the edge. He’d be a good backup SAM linebacker behind Haason Reddick in Philly. As a senior in 2021, Luketa had 61 tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss. He had just half a sack but at the Senior Bowl this year really showed off his pass rush ability, wowing in some 1-on-1 drills.

5-154: Isaiah Likely, TE, Coastal Carolina

Tight end is an underrated need for the Eagles in this draft. They bring back Dallas Goedert in 2022 but behind him they have Jack Stoll, who didn’t offer much of anything as a receiver, and Tyree Jackson, who is coming back from a torn ACL. Stoll was a fine blocker and maybe that’s all the Eagles want in their No. 2 tight end. But it would help them to find someone who has more potential as a receiver when they get into their 12 personnel offense.

Likely (6-4, 245) could be a nice fit. He had a big senior season (59/912/12) led to a Senior Bowl invite. Likely was one of several TE standouts in Mobile this year.

While Likely needs some refinement as a blocker, he has some real ability as a pass catcher and the athleticism to think he can make the jump from Coastal into the NFL.

5-162: Neil Farrell Jr., DL, LSU

Typically, the Eagles have opted for one-gap, get up the field 3-techniques when they draft defensive tackles. But Farrell (6-4, 330) could offer then a late-round nose tackle with run stuff ability and untapped pass rush potential.

The Eagles have plenty of 3-techs on their roster in 2022 with Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave and Milton Williams, but they could use a big DT to play over the center in a defense that Gannon wants to be multiple.

Farrell had a great week at the Senior Bowl and was named the best defensive lineman on the American team. He was a run-stuffer in college but showed off his pass rush ability in Mobile.

5-166: ZaQuandre White, RB, South Carolina

White began his career at Florida State, bounced back to a JUCO and then finished up at South Carolina. In 2021, he had 88 carries for 583 yards (6.6) and 2 touchdowns. He also caught 19 passes for 202 yards and 3 more touchdowns. Because he just had one season as a starter, he has plenty of tread left on his tires. He’s an older prospect at 23 years old, but had just 104 Division I carries.

And his highlights are a lot of fun.

The Eagles bring back Miles Sanders, Boston Scott and Kenny Gainwell for the 2022 season, but they could obviously add another player to that mix. Getting someone like White in a late round would work.

7-237: Obinna Eze, OT, TCU

It’s late in the draft so it’s fine to draft purely for upside and Eze (6-6, 321 pounds) has plenty of that. He played mostly left tackle in college but would need to develop on both sides of the line in Philly to become a swing tackle. Eze began his career at Memphis (where he blocked for Kenny Gainwell) before transferring to TCU in 2021.

Eze is still very raw. He was born in Nigeria and came to the United States to play basketball before realizing that football was a good fit. His first year of varsity football in high school came as a senior so he’s still very raw. Let Jeff Stoutland get his hands on him.

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