Eagles worst-case scenario mocking the draft: Bijan Robinson, Emmanuel Forbes go to the first round

Earlier this week, we went through a realistic best-case scenario planning exercise for the Eagles draft. Now it’s time for another alternate universe, bearing in mind again that this is supposed to be within reason. Worst case scenario is the Eagles trade their entire preseason class, like Steve Belichick or something.

Round 1, No. 10: Texas RB Bijan Robinson

This has nothing against the player. Robinson is awesome. He’s ranked #6 on Dane Brugler’s Top 100 Draft Plate list for a reason. At 5-foot-11, 215 pounds with a 40-yard dash of 4.46 seconds, he has the physical tools to drool and produce to match. He has two 1,000-yard rushing seasons to his credit, averaged 6.3 yards per carry during his time at Texas and is a successful receiver to boot. He is equal parts elusive and powerful. On offense the Eagles, who play next to Jalen Hurts and behind a large obstruction offensive line, will be the favorite to lead the league in their rush. And after…

Even if the “running back doesn’t matter” rhetoric has gone too far, using the No. 10 overall pick at the position Philadelphia can coax its high-level production out of middle talent feels like wasting its chance at adding a franchise pole. Long term, the Eagles have needs in the premium positions that they value, such as offensive lineman, defensive tackle, rim rusher, and cornerback. The notion that Robinson is the player who will move the Eagles needle as a Super Bowl contender in 2023 is also misleading. As Howie Roseman said Thursday, it would be “naive” to expect the same level of health this season as it was in 2022. What difference would be more important for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, the gap between Robinson’s starting running back and Kenneth Ginwell’s running back duo And Rashad Beene, or the gap between, say, starting cornerbacks Cristian Gonzalez and Zeke MacPherson? Or Paris Johnson Jr. and Jack Driscoll? Or Galen Carter and Marlon Tuipoloto?

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This is not an attempt to be pretentious. Football is supposed to be fun, and Robinson probably adds more juice in the short term than any early first-round prospect. But leagues aren’t built by failing the Marshmallow test. At the very least, if Robinson is the target, conceding several points seems necessary.

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Round 1, No. 30: Mississippi State CB Emmanuel Forbes

Forbes has an impressive production history, with 14 interceptions in three seasons, including six true interceptions in 2022. A closer look at those interceptions is less impressive, with many coming from dropped passes or bad turnovers. But let’s stipulate that he has a nose for the ball. He still weighs in at 166 pounds, which is 17 pounds lighter than the lightest 36 Pro Bowl or All-Pro cornerbacks over the past 11 years measured before the draft. With similar players in this range in position with better profiles (Deonte Banks, Kelee Ringo, Cam Smith, etc.), Forbes would be a disappointing result. If the draft is about maximizing the odds of a series of long-running bets, why settle for such an oddity?

Second round, No. 62: Texas A&MS Antonio Johnson

This is less about the player and more about the situation. Safety, aside from maybe the quarterback, is historically the position that the league has been the worst at predicting. She has the highest percentage of elite players in the past decade as well as being drafted on the third day of the draft or not being drafted at all. It would also mean that the Eagles have snubbed the scrimmage lines three straight picks at the top of the draft, which looks decidedly like Roseman.

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Johnson, meanwhile, is Brugler’s No. 2 safety but comes with questions about his ability to hold up to a pass. Bruegler writes: “Overall, Johnson has undisciplined tendencies and still technically regulates his body, but he’s at his best near the line of scrimmage with his zonal instincts and his eagerness to drop the hammer in the running game. His playing style is reminiscent of Jamal Adams (albeit in a different body type) “.

Third round, #94: Tennessee edge Byron Young

We know the Eagles are going to tackle the line of scrimmage at some point, so we’ll use this opportunity to pick the misnamed youngster. At 6-foot-2, 250 pounds, Young ran a 4.40-second dash at harvest, which backed up 12 1/2 sacks in two seasons at Tennessee. But at 25, Byron Auld looks more like him, which would be a hard sell for someone who plays a spinner at best.

“A youngster can get swallowed up in the running game, and his rushing cleats stand up very quickly on contact,” Brugler writes, “but his energy and rushing flashes lead to backfield play.” Although he has limitations in the running game, he has the potential to make a living as a rushing quarterback in the NFL.”

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Round 7, #219: Michigan’s Brad Robbins

The Eagles need competition for Arryn Siposs, and there probably isn’t much room between a seventh-round pick and an undrafted free agent. But using a pick on a punter — only Brugler’s #3 punter in this case — in a six-player draft class would be hard to accept.

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Round 7, No. 248: Georgia QB Stetson-Bennett

There’s really no such thing as a bad seventh-round pick, especially late on, but my man here is almost a full year older than Hurts.

Complete chapter project

RB Bijan Robinson
Cb Emanuel Forbes
Antonio Johnson
Edge Byron Young
P Brad Robbins
QB Stetson Bennett

That group means no assists at defensive tackle and no enhanced depth for an offensive line that has lost two of its top eight players this season, with another set for free agency and two more on the wrong side of the 30. No linebackers help either. Just think about an extra half yard per carry, though.

(Photo by Bijan Robinson: Jay Biggerstaff/USA Today)

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