As it is draft season, it’s also time for a new Mel Kiper mock draft. Kiper has made a name for himself as a draft “guru” of sorts, so when he speaks, people tend to listen. His years of experience have given him connections and insight like few others, giving fans one of the clearest pictures of what NFL GMs are thinking headed into draft night.
As it went for my reaction to Daniel Jeremiah’s mock draft, I’m going to look a little deeper at who he has slotted to go to the Eagles. Philadelphia picks twice in the first round at 10 and 30, giving them plenty of options for how to replace their many free agents leaving. However, Kiper has Howie Roseman and co. staying on-brand by drafting for the trenches.
Mel Kiper Mock Draft Reaction
10th Overall Pick: Peter Skoronski (OT/Northwestern)
Let’s keep a strength a strength for the Eagles… why not take the best lineman in this class? We know general manager Howie Roseman appreciates the trenches, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the direction he goes.
With the 10th pick, Kiper has the Eagles ignoring their other needs to draft an offensive lineman in Peter Skoronski, a highly touted tackle out of Northwestern. At first glance, I thought this was just a futures pick to replace Lane Johnson whenever he retires. However, this pick is more than that, addressing not just the future but also a potential immediate concern.
Longtime Eagles’ starting guard Isaac Seumalo is headed into free agency, and given the Eagles’ overflow of players needing to be resigned, he likely won’t get brought back. With that comes the selection of Skoronski. Perhaps you’re confused by this because he started at tackle for Northwestern for three years–allow me to explain.
The consensus is that Skoronski is the cleanest offensive line prospect in the draft, and after watching the film, yeah, I agree. In the pass game, every play of his is teaching tape. His footwork is fluid as can be, his posture and body position are perfect, and his hand placement, although sometimes a little wider than I’d like, is super precise. He’s far and away the best pass blocker in the draft, and could honestly come in and be one of the best in the NFL starting week one.
However, there is really just one knock on Skoronski, and is the reason he may be drafted as a guard rather than a tackle. That knock is his arm length, which is much shorter than average for NFL tackles. While his technique is quite literally perfect, he is limited in intangibles, which could give him problems against the NFL’s lengthier pass rushers.
Skoronski could absolutely thrive as an NFL tackle, and for the Eagles, drafting him to eventually supplant Lane Johnson is by no means a bad option. However, the Eagles biggest need across the o-line will be at right guard, and Skoronski has all the tools to thrive in that role. He could easily be a perennial Pro Bowl guard, and for a team which prides itself on dominating the trenches, it doesn’t get much better than that.
30th Overall Pick: Calijah Kancey (DT/Pittsburgh)
Kancey is an undersized (280 pounds) tackle who could play the 3-technique spot next to 2022 first-rounder Jordan Davis, rushing the passer from the interior and generally wreaking havoc on guards and centers. Kancey likely is a fit only for teams that play a 4-3, but he explodes into backfields at the snap.
Speaking of great players with size issues, Kiper has the Eagles taking Calijah Kancey at pick 30. I had never watched Kancey’s film prior to writing this article, but now that I have, I’m shocked that he isn’t getting more hype.
Because of his school, position, size, and athletic profile, Kancey has and will continue to get a lot of comps to Aaron Donald… and I don’t hate it. Sure, that’s a lofty comparison to fulfill, but why not–he’s an amazing pass rusher with great hands, feet, motor, and a full arsenal of pass rush moves that make him impossible to solve. He’s also super strong in the run game despite the lack of size, with great full body strength, the ability to fight off double teams, and a nose for the football.
In college, Kancey played a combination of three-technique and nose tackle, although his athleticism suggests he could thrive on the edge as well. However, given his lack of size, he likely won’t fit in well as a nose (although with his talent, I won’t count it out), meaning he’ll likely be used more in a 4-3 three-tech role. Some teams could see this potential limitation as a hard hurdle to clear during the draft, but for Philadelphia, there’s a piece already on the roster that pairs perfectly with Kancey’s talents: Jordan Davis.
Davis is the ideal nose tackle with an amazing blend of size, strength, and athleticism, with a build much larger than Kancey’s. However, the two together on a defensive line is a o-lineman’s nightmare. Seriously, how do you stop that? They both offer an entirely different skill set, but fit each other’s play extremely well. It’s hard to ignore how much sense this pick makes for Philadelphia, especially given the uncertainty around which free agents will stay.
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