Eagles Add to Defense, Trenches in ESPN’s 2-Round Mock Draft
The Philadelphia Eagles have a number of holes they need to try and fix this offseason and are loaded up with 3 first-round picks to try and accomplish that.
While free agency is just over a month away, and the Eagles should be active in the free agent market, its the 10 draft picks to work with in the 2022 NFL Draft that should excite fans the most.
In ESPN’s latest two-round mock draft, the Eagles add four solid pieces, including three on the defensive side of the ball in Jordan Reid's post-Senior Bowl mock draft.
With the 15th pick in the draft, Reid has Philadelphia taking Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II.
Johnson is the prospect who helped himself the most at the Senior Bowl, dominating during the two days that he participated in practice. The combination of strength, power and a wide variety of moves off the edge has Johnson's stock climbing. It shouldn't come as a surprise if he enters the top-15 discussion. With Derek Barnett set to become a free agent, the Eagles could be in search of a running mate for Josh Sweat. They have three first-round selections and are in prime position to infuse depth into multiple areas of the roster.
Johnson had a tremendous week in Mobile at the Senior Bowl and would be a nice fit across from Josh Sweat in Jonathan Gannon's defense after a season where he had 11.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss for the Seminoles this past season.
The Eagles have a need to add a pass rusher or two this offseason with Derek Barnett set to become a free agent and Brandon Graham's health and age an issue.
Next up at No. 16, Reid has the Eagles going with Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner.
Philadelphia hasn't selected a cornerback in the first round since Lito Sheppard in 2002, and it's time for that streak to come to an end. With Avonte Maddox and Darius Slay the only consistent starters in the secondary, Gardner brings a potential shutdown presence on the perimeter. He was the best prospect I saw up close when I live-scouted him in 2021. Every bit of 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, Gardner can play man and zone coverage, but it's his physical traits and body movements at that size that could move him even higher. Based on what I've heard from NFL scouts, don't be surprised if Gardner is the first corner off the board in April's draft.
Gardner is the definition of a shutdown corner, allowed zero touchdown passes during his college career for the Bearcats. He could be the top corner in this years draft and would likely start opposite Darius Slay right way if selected.
At pick No. 19, Reid has the Eagles going offense, taking Iowa's Tyler Linderbaum. With Jason Klece's future in doubt, Linderbaum could be a replacement for at center.
Whenever there's a great center in the draft, the earliest he is likely to go is in the mid-to-late teens, as shown recently with Ryan Kelly (No. 15 overall in 2016) and Garrett Bradbury (No. 18 in 2019). Linderbaum is seen as a better prospect than both Kelly and Bradbury, however, so he could end up being an outlier. The Eagles already have promising players along the interior in Landon Dickerson, Isaac Seumalo, Jack Driscoll and Jack Anderson, but none possess the upside of Linderbaum, who could take over at center if Jason Kelce retires. Linderbaum, the reigning Rimington Award winner, has the strength and physical tools to be a great player.
Linderbaum was a consensus All-American and won the Rimington Trophy this fall as the nation’s top center. Landon Dickerson won that award the previous season.
After shoring up the offensive line with their third pick in the first round, ESPN has the Eagles going back to the defensive side of the ball, taking in Alabama linebacker Christian Harris with their second-round pick (No. 54).
The second level of the Eagles' defense needs an upgrade, and Harris would add speed. He specializes as a blitzer and can wreak havoc on the first level, which means more tackle-for-loss opportunities for the rest of the team. Harris needs to improve with trusting his read keys and attacking downhill, but he has the physical tools to make an impact.
I don't think I have to stress the need for a linebacker, and Harris would be an excellent addition to the defense, especially if they can get him in this spot.
The tandem of T.J. Edwards and Alex Singleton, along with former third-round pick Davion Taylor are in need of an upgrade.