Philadelphia Eagles Draft: Final Seven-Round Mock Draft

Apr 28, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; A general view of the stage and podium before the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 28, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; A general view of the stage and podium before the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /
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Philadelphia Eagles
Oct 15, 2016; Madison, WI, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Gareon Conley (8) during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Ohio State won 30-23. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Round 1 (#14 overall): Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

If you’re just joining us, welcome. This is Gareon Conley Hill. We’ve been expecting you.

A two-year starter at the Ohio State University, Conley has experience and success in both man and zone coverages, a crucial multiplicity needed in the cornerbacks of Jim Schwartz’s defense. His footwork at the line is clean, his hips down the field are loose, and he’s as talented as they come when the ball’s in the air.

Perhaps you have a gripe with him in man coverage: that he doesn’t play to his frame. To me, that seems more of a stylistic choice than anything else. When you’re as sticky as he is down the field, you don’t need to disrupt at the line. If you want to develop him into more of a press-man corner, the length is there.

He is, in my evaluation, the best zone coverage CB in this class. He’s incredibly quick to close and as sharp as any NFL corner with his eyes in the backfield. That quick-twitch ability was on full display in Indianapolis during the NFL Combine, where Conley posted the athletic profile that makes him a likely Schwartz cornerback target.

You may have heard more chatter around his running mate in Columbus, Marshon Lattimore. Older, with more experience, and unhampered by injury, Conley is the safer pick from the get-go–but I also have Conley’s tape graded above Lattimore’s. In my opinion, he’s the better prospect through and through.

Conley is the #2 CB in this class and the #1 scheme-fit for the Philadelphia Eagles, and at a position of such dire need, it’s tough to imagine passing him up. He was my first-round pick in my last seven-rounder, and he is in this one as well. “Gareon Conley no matter what.”

Alternate Realities:

1) How The Mighty Have Fallen: Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State. As I said, I’d personally take Conley over Lattimore, but Lattimore seems to be the consensus CB1 among NFL teams. It’s tough to imagine him dropping, but should he tumble, the Eagles may snap him up.

2) They Be Reachin’: Marlon Humphrey, Alabama. Humphrey is as physical a cornerback as you’ll see coming into the league, and he has a high ceiling, given his athletic profile and pedigree. That said, the big plays he gave up over his time with the Crimson Tide concerns me, and he grades out closer to the end of Round 1.

3) Please, Dear God, Not: Kevin King, Washington. King could turn out as the best corner of this class. The frame, athleticism (99.3 NFL% SPARQ score) and ball skills are all there. But let another team invest in the projection–the Eagles need a safer pick.

4) The Dark Horse: Adoree’ Jackson, USC. “But Ben, you just said that the Eagles need a safe pick.” I know. And personally, I would take King before Jackson. But given Jackson’ special teams ability, and their historic apathy toward size/length, I think Philly would go his way before King’s. Hey, it’s a dark horse pick for a reason.