The 2018 NFL Draft process has already begun, with players mulling over decisions to declare or to return to school and invites to various Showcase games being sent out. I’m already solidifying my plans to catch East-West Shrine Game practices and I will also be traveling to Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl.
It’s in that spirit that I decided to do a way-too-early draft simulation that you will probably hate and I will probably hate myself for after a couple of months into the pre-draft process.
The following draft was conducted using Fanspeak, with Matt Miller’s recently updated Big Board. There are no trades and Free Agency does not exist in this exercise. Treat this as a way to get familiar with names that the Philadelphia Eagles may be considering in the draft and not as a crystal ball prediction.
If you’re not familiar with how Fanspeak operates, allow me to elaborate. I picked one team (the Eagles) to draft with, the rest of the teams are AI controlled and pick based on value and/or need. I have zero control over who is on the board when I pick. Here are the results.
1st Round, 31st Overall: Georgia LB Roquan Smith
I know, I know… “we need an offensive tackle”. My situation in this simulated draft left me with two real options based on need and best player available. It was either take LB Roquan Smith or Mississippi State OT Martinas Rankin. I took to Twitter to ask my followers about the predicament:
— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) December 12, 2017
Granted, I had made my decision already, but at least for now, there is a segment of the fan base that agreed with my decision. Also on board was the co-host of Locked On Eagles.
“Roquan and Rankin in the same position would really be an interesting investigation in the philosophy of the Eagles’ front office. Roquan is far and away the more talented prospect, but the need at LB will likely be far less dire when compared to OT. Rankin has swing ability, which means he can also move in to guard if Big V proves he can hold down the RT position–but Roquan is truly a rare talent at the positions, with speed to burn and a hunter’s instincts. The talent with Roquan is too much to pass up, in my eyes.” – Benjamin Solak
Matt Miller recently linked Smith to the Eagles in his article detailing one link to each NFL team (here), which spurred a discussion during last week’s Pick a Prospect segment on Locked On Eagles. It’s also interesting to note that the Eagles seemingly have a big interest in the position, which could speak to how the team feels about the futures of the players currently in place.
“Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith shouldn’t make it this far down the draft board on merit, but he’s a little undersized (listed at 6’1″, 225 pounds, but I’ve heard he’s over 230) and that could turn teams away. It shouldn’t, but it might. If so, the Eagles could have a linebacker corps that puts fear into opposing quarterbacks with Jordan Hicks, Smith and Mychal Kendricks in the base 4-3.” – Matt Miller
I’m fully aware that Smith should not be there when the Eagles draft at 31. As an off-ball linebacker, he has the sideline-to-sideline range, the ability to stack and shed in a phone booth, and the athletic profile that make him a more than capable cover man.
Anyone else remember when Roquan Smith forced a three and out by himself?
— Barstool UGA (@ugabarstool) December 3, 2017
All these traits point to him being a highly coveted three-down linebacker that will crush the Combine and possibly become a top 10 pick come April. However, these were the cards dealt in this simulation and I’d be kicking myself if I didn’t take, by far, the best player available on my board.
4th Round, 131st Overall: Washington State OT Cole Madison
In my attempt to soften the hate headed my way for not reaching for an offensive tackle in round one (good luck,self), and also to address an obvious need, I ended up with OT Madison. He was Pro Football Focus’ top offensive lineman in 2016 and was only credited with allowing 2 sacks all season. Much of that can be attributed to Head Coach Mike Leach’s quick release offense, but still, Madison has held up very well overall despite a poor performance against California in a game where actually bad QB Luke Falk threw 5 interceptions.
Madison is a former tight end, which means the Seattle Seahawks are looking to trade up in the first round to grab him, thus rendering this simulation useless.
4th Round, 133rd Overall: Massachusetts TE Adam Breneman
If you’re familiar with other athletic, draft eligible tight ends like Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews or South Dakota State’s Dallas Goedert, Brenemen is smooth and is essentially 80% of what they bring to the table, only with a troubling injury history. Brenemen was a 5 star recruit for the Penn State Nittany Lions despite missing his senior high school season with a knee injury. A knee injury sidelined him in his sophomore campaign, playing just two games, and led to his eventual retirement.
Brenemen began playing football again for Massachusetts in 2016 and has since totaled 134 catches, 1,572 yards and 12 touchdowns over the last two seasons.
5th Round, 159th Overall: Middle Tennessee, WR Richie James
Don’t let the small school or small size (5’9” 178lbs) fool you, James is a problem. Over three years, James has Amassed 243 catches, 3,249 yards, and 23 touchdowns despite only playing five games in 2017 after he suffered a broken collarbone. I strongly encourage you find the time to watch him work in this 20 minute cut-up of his 2016 campaign.
5th Round, 170th Overall: Rutgers EDGE Kemoko Turay
You can never have too many pass rushers and Turay brings a natural athleticism to the position that the Eagles lack. At 6’6” and 252 pounds, Turay caught the eyes of evaluators in his freshmen campaign where he notched 7.5 sacks and blocked 3 kicks. Having struggled since his breakout season, Turay has a chance to regain some of his hype at the Senior Bowl in January.
6th Round, 209th Overall: NC State RB/FB/TE Jaylen Samuels
Another Senior Bowl invite, Samuels is literally called the Human Swiss Army Knife for the many ways in which NC State has deployed him. Regardless of the position, Samuels can play ball. In his four year college career, he’s gained a total of 1,805 yards receiving, 1,087 yards rushing and 46 total touchdowns.
All-in-all I felt good about the haul. Obviously things will change drastically in the coming months. Stocks will rise and fall, unfortunate injuries and medical findings will happen. It’s all part of the grueling process that is the NFL Draft.
Matchups to watch in Cleveland
On today’s Locked On Eagles:
A look at the key matchups for Sunday’s matchup with the Cleveland Browns.
How will the Eagles defend the Nick Chubb-Kareem Hunt backfield?
Is this the game Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz finally get things right?
Wentz Wednesday: Week 11
On today’s Locked On Eagles:
Carson Wentz went from looking like Jameis Winston all year to Sam Bradford on Sunday
Evaluating the inconsistencies in Wentz’s throwing mechanics that were apparent against New York
Wentz deserves blame without always steering the attention to Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman
Doug and Howie on the hot seat?
On today’s Locked On Eagles:
Even in a first place position…..it is time to think big picture with the Eagles
Are Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman safe beyond 2020?
Should Jeffery Lurie continue to be patient or is a shake-up needed?