Eagles Outlook: Howie Roseman adds another dynamic playmaker in PFF’s latest mock draft
With the NFL regular season coming to a close, Pro Football Focus has dropped another 2023 NFL Mock Draft. One that sees the Eagles adding playmakers on both sides of the ball.
Now that the regular season has wrapped up, the Eagles are locked in at the tenth overall pick via the New Orleans Saints. With that first pick, PFF envisions Howie Roseman adding to his defense, selecting Alabama S Brian Branch.
Branch is the kind of defensive back that is gaining value around the NFL. He can play the slot position at an elite level against both run and pass. He earned a 90.7 run-defense grade and an 86.4 coverage grade for Alabama this past fall. That would fit in perfectly in Jonathan Gannon’s defense — especially if C.J. Gardner-Johnson departs in free agency.
This selection really depends on whether or not the Eagles retain CJ Gardner-Johnson this offseason – as PFF points out. I’d have to imagine resigning CGJ is at the top of Howie’s priorities list this offseason, but anything could happen.
If CGJ departs, Brian Branch would be a solid fit to slide into that vacancy.
He’s currently ranked as the 15th-best prospect entering this year’s NFL Draft, per PFF. Branch is a do-it-all safety who can drop back into coverage just as effectively as he can come down and make tackles. His 3.3 percent missed tackle rate ranks among the best in college football.
In 2022, Branch spent most of his playing time in the slot, where he logged 569 defensive snaps. He spent 136 snaps in the box, along with 25 as a deep safety. Standing at 6-foot, 193 pounds, he’s the exact archetype that could excel in the CGJ role within Jonathan Gannon’s defense.
With their second selection in the first-round – PFF has the Eagles slotted at 32nd – PFF’s latest mock sees Howie adding yet another dynamic playmaker to his explosive offense with Ohio State wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
Smith-Njigba is a plug-and-play slot wide receiver. His reliability from that alignment would give the Eagles three sure-fire route winners. Smith-Njigba went for 1,595 and nine scores as a sophomore in 2021 before hamstring issues derailed his 2022 season.
Although the Eagles still have WR Quez Watkins under contract, he has been underwhelming for most of the 2022 season. Leading some to believe the Eagles may eye another wideout in this year’s draft. If Smith-Njigba falls all the way to 32, it would be an absolute steal for Howie and Co.
Prior to the 2022 season, this OSU product was considered by many to be the consensus No. 1 wide receiver prospect entering the 2023 NFL Draft. After sustaining a hamstring injury early on during the 2022 campaign and only suiting up for three games, Smith-Njigba has fallen down the draft board a bit.
He’s currently ranked third among wide receiver prospects by PFF, despite putting up astounding numbers in his sophomore season. The OSU wideout managed to rack up 95 receptions for 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns during that season, making him a sure-fire first-round wideout in the process.
There’s a solid chance Smith-Njigba starts to climb back up draft boards once the scouting process begins this offseason. Nevertheless, adding this guy alongside AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith would be scary.
Just imagine this guy in the Eagles offense
Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated