The Eagles are currently in Super Bowl mode, so it’s hard to wrap my brain around the idea that ESPN mock draftnik Todd McShay just released his first mock of the season. Ideally I won’t be thinking about mock drafts until the third week of February at the earliest.
But it’s that time for numerous teams around the NFL, so I can’t blame ESPN for getting a head start.
I can blame McShay, however, for the way he has Eagles general manager Howie Roseman making use of the pick he acquired from the New Orleans Saints back in April.
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Inexplicably, McShay has projected Texas running back Bijan Robinson to the Eagles at No. 5, which is where the Saints’ pick currently stands.
Let’s listen to McShay’s rationale before we explain why he’s wrong:
“This is a serious luxury pick for the 12-win Eagles after landing this selection from the Saints in the 2022 offseason. Per ESPN Stats & Information research, the last time a team went to a Super Bowl (as ESPN’s FPI projects) and then had a top-five draft pick was 1992, when Washington won the championship and then drafted Desmond Howard fourth overall via a trade-up. I considered Clemson defensive tackle Bryan Bresee here, because GM Howie Roseman values the interior defensive line, and pairing Bresee with Jordan Davis up the middle would give Philadelphia quite the run-stopping duo. However, Miles Sanders is set to be a free agent, this offense leans heavily on the run (433 rushes, second most in the NFL), and Robinson is a special prospect with elite size, speed, power and elusiveness.
“I know the ‘it’s too early for a running back’ arguments are coming, and I agree 99% of the time. But why spend heavily on re-signing Sanders or bringing in another back in free agency when Robinson — who is an upgrade — is available here on a rookie deal? Robinson cruised to 1,580 yards and 18 TDs on the ground this season while breaking 91 tackles. Dropping him into the league’s best offense would be scary for every other team. Philly also has another first-rounder down the board.”
Okay, respect to Todd for knowing that everyone is going to tell him wrong. Because he’s wrong.
(For what it’s worth, McShay mocked Notre Dame DE Isaiah Foskey to the Eagles at No. 31. Makes way more sense.)
The Eagles aren’t taking a running back at five. I don’t care who the running back is. It doesn’t matter. Roseman is a positional value acolyte, a firm believer in trenches first and foremost with quarterback and wide receiver tailing not too far behind. This would be an absolute head-exploding departure not just from Roseman’s draft history and asset allocation but from the entire league’s current understanding of positional value.
Great running backs are awesome, but you simply can’t take one with a Top 5 pick in the NFL Draft. It’s a total waste. Their shelf lives in the NFL are shorter than basically any other position, you can find great running backs all over the draft, and the Eagles’ offensive line is so good (and Jalen Hurts opens up the offense so much with his legs) that investing in a running back this high in the draft would simply be malpractice.
Of the NFL’s Top 10 running backs in total rush yards this season, just two were selected in the first round – Josh Jacobs and Saquon Barkley – while three were selected in the fourth or fifth round. Five were selected in the second round, including Eagles running back Miles Sanders. You can find great running backs absolutely anywhere.
Bijan Robinson is a great prospect and a player I’d certainly enjoy having as an Eagle, but not if Roseman passed up on other top-end elite talent at far more valuable positions to bring him to Philadelphia.
I don’t think the Eagles should shell out the money it’ll take to keep Miles Sanders in midnight green after this season, so they will indeed need to address the position. They might be wise to address it in the draft.
But this is not the answer.
2023 NFL mock draft: Could Eagles take RB Bijan Robinson at No. 5? – NBC Sports