Every week during the 2021 NFL season, we’re going to — just being honest here — overreact to what we’ve seen on the field for a different NFL team and begin projecting NFL draft prospects at positions of concerning need.
Think of it as a mini one-team mock draft, with early (Rounds 1-2), middle (Rounds 3-4) and late (Rounds 5-7) prospects at each team’s respective position of concern.
This week’s NFL draft makeover is the Philadelphia Eagles. How will they plan to use their wealth of 2022 NFL draft capital?
The Eagles traded away quarterback Carson Wentz this offseason, and it was a thank-god moment for many of the team's fans. So why do they still seem so obsessed with how he's doing this year? Well, it's actually for good reason.
One of the contingencies of the Wentz trade, determining which pick the Indianapolis Colts will ship to Philly for the 2022 NFL draft, is playing time. The pick in question is currently a second-round rounder next year, but it can convert into a first-rounder if Wentz takes 75% of the Colts’ regular-season offensive snaps, or 70% if they make the playoffs.
Wentz has played 270 of Indianapolis' 275 offensive snaps this season, which is 98%. The Colts are 1-3 through four games. Both numbers are terrific news so far for the Eagles.
If the Colts pick ends up being a first-rounder, the Eagles could have three very high draft picks in 2022. They also own the 1-3 Miami Dolphins' first-rounder via a pre-draft trade earlier this year. Likewise, the Eagles also are 1-3. So if the draft was tomorrow, they would own three of the first nine overall selections.
Of course, Wentz could get hurt along the way and derail the Eagles' dreams — even after leaving the team. We still have 14 regular-season weeks remaining, which is ample time for bad luck to arrive.
Either way, GM Howie Roseman and Co. are loaded for the 2022 draft. But how will they spend their picks? Are the Eagles bound once more to wheel and deal into the future? And what are their biggest voids? We consider the possibilities.
LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr.
First, the elephant in the room: Is Jalen Hurts the answer? So far, he's shown mostly well, along with a few bumps in the road. We considered the QB possibility, especially as loaded as the Eagles are with high picks. But ultimately, we thought that waiting one more year to draft his potential replacement is a fair likelihood. So we're operating with the idea that he'll remain the starter.
If the Eagles do land a top-five pick, they'll be in range to take Stingley. He does come with some risk, however. Stingley currently is out indefinitely with a foot injury, and there are some who wonder if he'll play again this season.
In his three games this season, Stingley allowed a 45-yard TD against UCLA and had some serious tackling woes in that game, but he clamped down in the next two, allowing only one catch for minus-2 yards.
Although Stingley hasn't played at a consistently elite level since his freshman year of 2019, he's only allowed 41.1% of his assignments' targets to be caught in three seasons. Many NFL scouts still believe his potential is sky-high, and he could be this class' CB1.
The position is a clear need for the Eagles in the long term. Darius Slay remains a top-tier corner but will be 32 years old next season. Steven Nelson, who turns 29 shortly, and Avonte Maddox both are scheduled to be free agents at season's end.
This might not be the super-sexy result some fans are hoping for out of a high pick (or multiple high picks), but it certainly makes ample sense, especially considering the influx of WR talent in the NFC East.
We believe Stingley has star potential. His athletic arrogance (that's a good thing) and alpha-dog mentality could be a great fit with the Eagles. He'd have Slay as a terrific mentor and would be treated to daily battles with DeVonta Smith in practice, which would be appointment viewing.
South Carolina EDGE Kingsley Enagbare
If the Eagles pick high enough in Round 1, Oregon pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux would absolutely be on the radar. Considering how much the team seems to value edge rushers, they might even be willing to move up slightly to nab him.
But if that doesn't happen, we believe they'll grab an EDGE prospect fairly soon thereafter. Brandon Graham and Ryan Kerrigan, who both turn 34 next year, are set to hit free agency. Josh Sweat looks like a burgeoning star on the edge. But Derek Barnett, who also is a free agent, might not be back.
The Eagles appear love high-motor rushers with athletic juice and length. (Who doesn't, right?) Just after the top tier of EDGE prospects is a pretty decent collection of pass rushers who fit this mold.
We really like the fit of Enagbare here, as he can rush from multiple techniques — two- and three-point stances, inside and out — is athletic enough to drop in space if needed and has good length (6-foot-4, 10 1/2-inch hands, 34 5/8-inch arms, 80 3/8-inch wingspan). He's also a high-energy rusher who keeps his motor running hot.
Enagbare has been effective getting to the quarterback this season, despite only being credited for half a sack in five games. He's lived in backfields, even with added blocking attention, although most of Enagbare's high-pressure games this season have come vs. lesser competition.
We could see him slide just a bit, even as enticing a prospect as he is. Enagbare is part of what looks like a loaded EDGE class, might not run all that well in testing drills and could face questions about his limited production (11 sacks, three forced fumbles in 37 career games). If so, he'd be a steal atop Round 3 for Philadelphia.
Washington OG Henry Bainivalu
The Huskies' blocking this season hasn't matched expectations, and Bainvalu appeared to be benched in the opening-game upset to Montana. But he has returned to the lineup at right guard and remains an NFL prospect after earning mostly Day 3 grades this summer.
Teams will do some digging on his character after a three-game suspension a few seasons ago, but Bainivalu has the potential to be a better pro than he's been in a decent but somewhat underwhelming career. And at an estimated 6-foot-6 and 340 pounds, he fits mold of the big-bodied blocker with relatively good athletic skills the Eagles often target.
He started out at tackle and has played both OG and OT spots in his career, but Bainivalu projects to guard at the next level — and he's been a relative fixture at right guard since the start of the 2020 season.
The Eagles don't know how much more they can count on Brandon Brooks and Isaac Seumalo, both of whom are on injured reserve. Even with Landon Dickerson coming on as a second-rounder this year, he could end up at center. Nate Herbig is fine for now, but the Eagles can stand to upgrade on him.
Mining the later rounds for OL help feels like a smart move for the Eagles in 2022.