Howie Roseman has earned the benefit of the doubt. It’s not often a team used three quarterbacks in five years to make two Super Bowls. But the Philadelphia Eagles did just that — and with Nick Foles at the helm for their win. Roseman bought the 2022 defense, hitting on nearly every move he made. But now it’s time to build back up through the NFL Draft.
This Philadelphia Eagles NFL Mock Draft uses data from Eagles users in PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator. Of the 10 players we see most often over the past week in Eagles mock drafts, six are defensive linemen. One safety, one linebacker, one cornerback, and one controversial running back make up the other four.
The question is, what will Sean Desai’s defense look like? The easiest way to explain it is this: Jonathan Gannon used Vic Fangio’s principles and philosophy to deploy his defense. At the same time, Desai is a direct disciple of Fangio, so he uses every bit of Fangio’s teachings on defense. And although TITE/TUFF is his base front and quarters a base coverage, Desai has displayed as much front and coverage versatility as any.
(Note: A massive shoutout to @HonestNFL on Twitter for putting so much free in-depth football content in one place. It helped make the decisions in this mock draft easier.)
Latest Philadelphia Eagles 2023 NFL Mock Draft
Typically, all trades would be annotated with each selection that factored into the move.
However, Roseman wasn’t playing around during this simulation. We’ve seen him bully teams on the draft day trade market before, and he did so once again here.
- PHI picks 10 and 219 for HOU picks 12 and 65
- PHI picks 12 and 94 for DET picks 18 and 48
- PHI pick 62 for LV pick 70 and 2024 third-rounder
- PHI pick 70 for NO pick 71 and 2024 fifth-rounder
Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson | Round 1, Pick 18
In Round 1 of PFN mocks with Eagles users, 51.7% of the time, a pass rusher or defensive tackle is selected. EDGE is the slight favorite at 25.9%, while the team’s more significant need, DT, is 25.8%. Eagles fans seem to be taking the value EDGE provides in the 2023 NFL Draft class compared to defensive tackle, which lacks the high-end talent and depth of the exterior rush group.
With the 18th pick in this particular situation, the choices were between Nolan Smith and Bryan Bresee. Smith is the better prospect and arguably the second-best pass rusher in the class, but he’s a bit redundant alongside Josh Sweat and Haason Reddick. That selection could have been more palatable if Sweat were playing on an expiring or movable contract, but he’s likely an Eagle for the next two seasons.
Bresee’s best football came in 2020 and 2021 due to injury and personal tragedy in 2022. But Clemson also put him in a position to showcase a different skill set. The 300-pound defensive tackle played head-up and outside the tackle late in the season, and he looked solid doing it. The Eagles’ defense will weaponize his overall athleticism.
Users select Bresee eighth-most overall (1.4%) and fifth-most (4.5%) in single-round mock drafts.
How Does He Fit?
Desai bases out of a five-man front consisting of two 7-techniques, two 4i-techniques, and a big ol’ nose tackle playing the 0-technique.
Bresee is a perfect fit as a player who has experience playing inside-out. He has the requisite length and power to play multiple gaps but the explosiveness to actually win the main gap he’s responsible for in the run fit. Additionally, he can stay on the field and play as a 3-technique in Desai’s four-man “over” fronts, where he’ll play as a true single-gap player.
And on obvious passing downs, he could slide even further inside to make room for the next player the Eagles draft at 3-technique.
Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh | Round 1, Pick 30
Calijah Kancey goes fourth-most in one-round mock drafts (5.2%) and second-most overall (4.3%), likely because his ADP is lower than Bresee.
He’s unequivocally NOT Aaron Donald. However, the 280-pound defensive tackle is one of the most explosive athletes to ever align as a 3-technique. His 4.67 40-yard dash and 1.58 10-yard split are both in the 99th percentile for the position. Although unofficially timed at the Pitt Pro Day, his three-cone was the best ever recorded by a DT — and both of his jumps were elite.
His lack of length precludes him from being a consistent winner both as a rusher and run defender. With a bit of seasoning on his rush plan and hand usage, he could be one of the most devastating instant winners in the league. He’ll likely not start because of this, but he should be a menace in a limited role on pass-rushing downs.
How Does He Fit?
Kancey isn’t a great fit for Desai’s base front, but in his even-man fronts that seek disruption, Kancey is the man for the job. Milton Williams is a similar mold to Kancey, and he’s gotten a fair share of time on the field for the Eagles over the past two seasons.
Will McDonald IV, EDGE, Iowa State | Round 2, Pick 48
Will McDonald IV might not be around at this time come the end of April. But with so many defensive ends of so many different skill sets, never say never. He’s currently the 41st-ranked player on PFN’s Industry Consensus Board, and because he was used in a role that he will not play on Sundays, there is a chance teams bet on the traits over the lack of production.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
Why did he lack production? Because the Cyclones used him as a 4i in TITE fronts, it disallowed him to pin his ears back as a standup rusher as a 7 or 9-technique (the role he’ll play at the NFL level). When he got the chance to attack, he showed nice flexibility and adequate explosion, with hands more advanced than you’d imagine from a player who rarely got practice reps for that scenario.
How Does He Fit?
He fits like a glove. It’d be bad business to play McDonald as Iowa State did. His 240-pound frame wouldn’t hold up well against NFL-caliber offensive tackles and guards. However, as a 7 and 9-technique, he’d be a fantastic fit. Despite his diminutive stature, he’s a feverish run defender that’s far more technically sound than one would imagine someone his size being.
Jordan Battle, S, Alabama | Round 3, Pick 65
Jordan Battle tested as an average athlete, but if there is a position where athleticism is secondary to a mental trigger, it’s as a split-field safety. Battle plays faster than his tested speed because of his coverage prowess, an absolute necessity to play on the back end of a Nick Saban defense.
As one of the few real safeties in this class (someone who actually played on the back end and is not a glorified slot defender), it’s interesting that he isn’t talked about more. He’s versatile and intelligent, which will play in Desai’s defense.
How Does He Fit?
Battle’s coverage intelligence and work underneath Saban will prove valuable for the young safety. While Desai’s system is different from Alabama, who bases coverages on Saban’s RIP/LIZ cover 6, the ideas aren’t too dissimilar. As a split-field safety in Desai’s Cover 8 and Cover 6, Battle can play to the strong or the weak side.
Sydney Brown, S, Illinois | Round 3, Pick 71
Speaking of glorified slot defenders and doubling up on positions, the Eagles selected Sydney Brown in Round 3. Eli Ricks and Jaylon Jones were also possibilities here, but Brown is a unique player with more athletic upside than both cornerbacks.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Order
Brown played in the slot for Illinois but displayed a quick-witted nature in man coverage and a propensity for pop in his pads. At 5-foot-9 and 211 pounds, his aesthetic is not unlike Antoine Winfield Jr. However, the Buccaneers’ safety was a traditional split-field safety coming from Minnesota who happened to play almost exclusively in the slot for Tampa Bay in 2022.
Philadelphia swung and missed on Chauncey Gardner-Johnson during the free agency cycle and could use an influx of talent for the future of the position. Terrell Edmunds showed improvement last season, and Reed Blankenship survived as an undrafted rookie. Nonetheless, bringing these two third-rounders in will breed competition and provide versatility. More teams are playing three safeties on the field at one time, and the Eagles could be similar.
How Does He Fit?
Brown doesn’t have a ton of reps on the back end, so his fit in Philadelphia is more of a projection than anything else. But because of his build and athleticism, he could survive as a slot defender for the Eagles. He possesses strong reactive athleticism when his technique breaks down. And playing as a “Hook” defender in Cover 8 allows him to bring his pads to the party against underneath throws.
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