This is the time of the year when weeds and mock drafts sprout up everywhere, and no matter how hard you try you just can’t kill them.
Weeds have been around forever, but mock drafts are a relatively new nuisance. There used to be just a few of them, put out by so-called experts in the media. But now, with the internet giving everyone equal access to cyberspace and the ability to make fools of themselves, everyone can overreact when some kid runs the 40-yard dash 1/10 of a second slower than expected.
A quick Google search of “NFL mock draft” came up with more than 3.6 million hits, and not all of then were issued by Mel Kiper Jr., the godfather of the mock draft world. We did a very quick and very unscientific survey of some of those mock drafts to see what the world thinks the Eagles will do with the 20th overall selection in Thursday night’s first round. Most of the 30 mocks we checked were from reputable sources like CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated and well-known names like Todd McShay and Peter King, although we have nothing from Kiper because we’re not an “Insider” at ESPN, which means we would have to pay money to find out what Mel thinks and we’re not nearly that interested.
But we wanted to be at least a little bit democratic, so we also checked a site where the owner seemed to lack a little imagination when it came to naming his site – mynfldraft.com – which also included a link to an article (with pictures, of course) titled “The 26 Hottest NFL Wives.” Their pick (for Eagles draft choice, not hottest wife) was safety Landon Collins of Alabama.
Well, whoever mynfldraft is, he or she picked the favorite. Going by the mock drafts we surveyed, Collins will indeed be your newest Eagle. Collins was the pick on eight of the 30 mock drafts that were part of our research. The second most popular pick was cornerback Byron Jones of Connecticut, with five votes. There were five other players who were named to more than one ballot – LSU cornerback Jalen Collins, Oregon offensive lineman Jake Fisher, Arizona State cornerback Jaelen Strong and Wake Forest cornerback Kevin Johnson each with two votes, and – you knew this was coming – Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, with three votes.
Picking up single votes were defensive tackle Arik Armstead of Oregon, wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham of Oklahoma, defensive tackle Malcolm Brown of Texas, outside linebacker Bud Dupree of Kentucky, cornerback Marcus Peters of Washington and offensive lineman La’ el Collins of Louisiana State.
All of those mock drafts presumed the Eagles will stay at No. 20 overall, but there has been endless speculation that they’ll try to move up so they can reunite Kelly and Mariota. However, it’s hard to imagine how the Eagles could move up far enough to grab Mariota. The odds are much better that Kelly will move up a few spots, maybe even several spots, if he thinks he can land the wide receiver or defensive back of his dreams. Of course, for all we know Kelly has his sights set on an offensive or defensive lineman, even though the vast majority of the mock drafts has them selecting a pass catcher or pass defender.
And there’s always a chance Kelly will move down so he can get multiple picks, but I hate that approach – I’d rather have one great player than two good ones, because great players make big plays, the kind that win games and championships. The Eagles got burned with that two-for-one approach in 2010, when they had an opportunity to draft safety Earl Thomas and instead made a trade with Seattle and moved down in the first round so they could get another pick, and those selections ended up being defensive end Brandon Graham and safety Nate Allen. Thomas has become a perennial All-Pro and could be headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, while Allen, who plays the same position, was practically shoved out the door by the Eagles when free agency started this off-season. Graham is coming off a solid year and just signed a new contract with the Eagles, but he’s not close to being in Thomas’ class.
Of course, the man calling the shots back in 2010 was Andy Reid and last year’s draft, the first with Kelly as coach, was mostly run by then-General Manager Howie Roseman. So, nobody knows what Kelly is thinking, and if they think they know what he’s thinking then they should think twice, because Kelly has already shown this off-season that he’s capable of almost anything.