Eagles’ MACH 10 Draft Challenge turns sweet 16

Time flies, tempus fugit, and EYE will turn away briefly from European conflict to celebrate a football conflict.

The NFL Draft is a personnel manager’s ultimate nightmare.  The MACH 10 Challenge is a game based upon that nightmare.

Co-founded by GK Brizer and The Great JB99, the Eagles MACH-10 Draft Challenge is a simple task on the surface— choose 10 names of guys you think the Eagles will draft on April 28 through April 30, 2022— but it is complicated beyond three dimensions with lots of moving parts.

Two years ago we had two finalists out of many entries who both had three (3) correct picks— those picks were Reagor, Wallace and Taylor— but AFRA won by a time-stamp ruling, beating out Kent Phil (Phillip Nunn of England) by a mere 12 hours of advance prognostication.

Last year, AFRA won again with two (2) money picks. This is amazing as so many of us struggled to get even one prediction right.  Heck, in the 15 years I’ve played this game, out of 150 total picks, I have never exceeded one correct lucky pick in any single Draft, and more often have been completely shut out.

And so the legacy of champions is seeking its next Green Jacket:

2007…..M. Fanny Harris
2008…..Leo Pizzini
2009…..M. Fanny Harris
2010…..GK Brizer
2011…..The Great JB99
2013…..Don Pardo
2014…..Kenny Kenemeka
2019…..Palm Feathers

This year’s MACH-10 Challenge is again somewhat ballot-hindered by the fact we do not have an active Comments section at present here at the EYE. Our network (USA Today Sports) for some reason has knocked out all Comments sections since April 27 of 2020, almost as if it were a COVID-related decision.

Never despair— you can email the EYE directly at [email protected] with your 10-player ballot. Or you can drop your ballot in the Comments section of Bleeding Green Nation (bleedinggreennation.com) anytime between April 22 and midnight April 29th EST. You can also leave your ballot with our Facebook Group affiliate Eagles Eye Blog Part Deux.

Here are some of the unique factors of this year’s MACH 10 challenge:

Round Overall How acquired
 1 15 From Dolphins
 1 18 From Saints
 2 51 Eagles’ own pick
 3 83 Eagles’ own pick
 3 101 From Saints
 4 124 Eagles’ own pick
 5 154 Eagles’ own pick
 5 162 From WFT
 5 166 From Cardinals
 7 237 From Saints

The Eagles find themselves in an envious position ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft — one they have already used to leverage further draft capital in upcoming drafts.

Philadelphia, despite making the NFL playoffs in 2021, has two selections in the first round of this year’s draft: Nos. 15 and 18 overall. That provides general manager Howie Roseman with considerable flexibility in improving this team moving forward — whether at receiver, corner, safety, linebacker or edge rusher, among other areas of need.

The Eagles came into both of their current first round draft picks by way of trade: Philadelphia traded its first- and fifth-round selections in 2021 (sixth and 156th overall, respectively) to Miami in exchange for first- and fourth-round selections (12th and 123rd overall) and a 2022 first-round selection. That resulted in the Eagles’ 15th overall pick this year.

The No. 18 pick was the result of another blockbuster trade with the Saints, which saw the Eagles part ways with the Nos. 16, 19 and 194 picks in 2022 in return for the Nos. 18, 101 and 237 picks in 2022. It also includes 2023 first-round and 2024 second-round picks.

Now try to get into the head of AFRA who seems able to tune out the noise of the speculators.  He’s probably not concerned with whom the Eagles coaches and scouts have publicly scouted, hosted and interviewed.  He’s more likely focused on that first round and how Roseman may play it as a combo pick.

Combination 1

  • No. 15: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
  • No. 18: Drake London, WR, USC

Considering the abundance of first-round-caliber receivers, the Eagles elect first to address their defense with a potential linchpin at linebacker. Devin Lloyd has been described as a do-it-all player who can not only fit right in the middle of Philadelphia’s defense, but also play multiple positions. The Eagles could use an explosive, aggressive and multi-talented defender to address multiple deficiencies from 2021.

The Eagles likely needn’t worry about losing a preferred receiver between their two picks, considering the Saints (No. 16) will likely use their pick on a quarterback and the Chargers (No. 17) don’t have a glaring need at the position. It’s unlikely the Eagles have access to Garrett Wilson, and so go with USC’s Drake London instead. The 6-5, 209-pound receiver is a physical, big-bodied threat who specializes in high-pointing the ball and making contested catches — the perfect complement to DeVonta Smith.

Combination 2

  • No. 15: Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
  • No. 18: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Philadelphia has already re-signed Josh Sweat and added free-agent pickup Haason Reddick to bolster a pass rush that produced the NFL’s second-worst sack rate last season. But the Eagles have a choice to make if Jermaine Johnson II of Florida State somehow falls to them at 15. The Georgia transfer (go figure) is an explosive, athletic and long-bodied defender at 6-5, 254 pounds who not only registered 18 tackles for loss and 12 sacks in 2021 but has the physicality to be an edge setter in this defense.

Philadelphia’s second pick should once again be a receiver, not only to complement Smith, but also to provide second-year starter Jalen Hurts another weapon. Even if Wilson and London are off the board, adding Chris Olave to a receiving corps that includes Quez Watkins, Zach Pascal and Jalen Reagor would satisfy that need. He’s a smooth receiver with burst and high top-end speed who can add an element of vertical receiving threat to the offense.

Combination 3

  • No. 15: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
  • No. 18: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

The Eagles have a need for a No. 2 cornerback opposite Darius Slay. As of now, Tay Gowan, Kary Vincent Jr. and Zech McPhearson seem to be vying for that position. But Washington’s Trent McDuffie could challenge for that role in a defense that tied for the worst completion percentage allowed in 2021. His average size (5-11, 193 pounds) belies an aggressive, athletic play style that works as well in man-to-man as it does in zone coverages.

The Eagles then look to another former Alabama receiver to shore up their receiving corps. Jameson Williams tore his ACL in the national championship game, but should be ready to contribute by season’s end; regardless, the speedy receiver proved himself an explosive playmaker in his one season at Alabama, leading the nation in 12 touchdowns of 20 yards or more. His ability to take the top off defenses, coupled with Smith’s route-running, could make for one of the top receiving duos in the NFC East.

Combination 4

  • No. 15: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
  • No. 18: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

Again, the Eagles elect to pick up an upgrade at linebacker who might not be available at 18. That starts first with Nakobe Dean, listed at 5-11, 230 pounds. He’s an explosive off-ball linebacker who despite logging only seven sacks in 2021 was one of college football’s top pass-rushers. The speed is evident in this sideline-to-sideline defender, who can also shore up the Eagles’ pass rush from last year.

Philadelphia then opts to draft Dean’s college teammate, Jordan Davis. Though the Eagles produced a top-10 rush defense in 2021, Davis is simply too big a prospect (literally and figuratively) to pass up. If he’s available, he could fulfill a long-term need in replacing Fletcher Cox, who signed a one-year deal with Philadelphia in the offseason. The 6-6, 341-pound Davis produced a legendary combine workout and could be among the top run-stoppers of this class. He may need to work on his stamina to be more than a two-down defender.

Combination 5

  • No. 15: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
  • No. 18: Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M

In this scenario, the Eagles once again take Lloyd to shore up their linebacker corps. Unlike previous scenarios that address needs at receiver or on defense, the Eagles draft Kenyon Green of Texas A&M up front.

The 6-4, 323-pound guard figures to be a plug-and-play guy on the interior. The Eagles, despite boasting one of the NFL’s best offensive lines in 2021, could use a player of his caliber now that Brandon Brooks has retired and Jack Driscoll suffered a season-ending high ankle sprain last season. This move might not make as much as sense, however, considering it would be a (quality) depth addition when there are more pressing needs at receiver and defense.

This is how AFRA will probably play it— by gambling on the 1st round combo (assuming Roseman does not further complicate the scenario with another trade).  AFRA will then fill in the rest of his picks with best guesses from later rounds, hoping to land an outlier at a position of need.

What would AFRA do?  EYE am betting he will stack his deck with 1st round combo plays.