All three spots are ripe with college talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Assuming the Eagles are keen on bringing back Jalen Hurts at quarterback – apparently, that is still a big assumption – then the 2022 NFL Draft provides the perfect opportunity to strengthen the core around him. Or to put more ammo in defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s holster.
Philadelphia general manager Howie Roseman has never been shy about taking offensive and defensive linemen early in drafts. Look at last year when he grabbed Landon Dickerson in the second round, then selected Milton Williams in the third round. After the picks were in, Roseman detailed his philosophy in full.
“We’re always going to build this football team and we’re going to start with the line of scrimmage,” Roseman told reporters on May 1. “Right or wrong, as long as I’m here, that’s going to be the priority. If we have an offensive lineman or defensive lineman sticking out on our board and they’re the highest guy, I promise you we’re going to take them.”
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Looking at Possible Difference-Makers
LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia: Roseman’s aversion to taking linebackers in the first round has been well-documented. And you could argue the Eagles are actually in good shape there, with T.J. Edwards energizing the unit and Davion Taylor flashing before his season-ending injury. Still, Micah Parsons would have looked amazing in midnight green. And so would Dean, the 2021 Dick Butkus Award winner. The 6-foot, 255-pounder started all 13 games for Georgia where he led the team with 61 tackles and five quarterback hits.
WR Jameson Williams, Alabama: The Crimson Tide pipeline has a direct line to Philly these days. The Eagles have hit on Jalen Hurts, DeVonta Smith, Landon Dickerson in recent years, so why not keep it going? Williams – a transfer from Ohio State – has legitimate game-breaking speed and is one of the best players in the nation at YAC (yards-after-catch). At 6-foot-2, 189 pounds, he’s a physical specimen and would instantly become the biggest receiver on the roster (outside of J.J. Arcega-Whiteside). Williams has 75 receptions for 1,507 yards (fifth in college football) and 15 touchdowns (third in college football).
DL DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M: The sun could be setting on Fletcher Cox soon, although he promised to return to Pro Bowl form. The Eagles value the monsters in the trenches and Leal is a Frankenstein. The 6-foot-4, 290-pounder excels at the point of attack, a guy who loves rushing the quarterback and can line up inside or outside on the edge. He recorded 58 tackles (12.5 for loss) and 8.5 sacks this season.
DE David Ojabo, Michigan: The Eagles have a decision to make on Derek Barnett. He’s set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2022 and his up-and-down play – two sacks vs. seven penalties – probably hasn’t impressed the front office. Enter Ojabo. The Michigan pass rusher is a matchup nightmare waiting to happen. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder has 35 tackles (12 for loss) and 11 sacks in 13 starts this season.
OL Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan: You could say the Eagles are set on the offensive line. Jason Kelce may return for another year. And Jordan Mailata is clearly the new franchise left tackle, with Landon Dickerson (left guard) and Nate Herbig (right guard) looking like solid pick-ups. However, you can never have too many bodies up front and Raimann is the biggest one in this draft. The converted tight end stands at 6-foot-7 and 305 pounds and dominates opponents off the line of scrimmage, especially when it comes to run-blocking. Raimann – a foreign exchange student from Austria – is a raw prospect (sound familiar?) who has the football intelligence and athleticism to wreak havoc in the NFL. He played left tackle at Central Michigan, but move him over to right tackle and prep him to replace 31-year-old Lane Johnson.