NFL Rumors: Eagles Could Land ‘Silky Smooth’ Replacement for Javon Hargrave

Lukas Van Ness

Getty Lukas Van Ness on-field at the 2023 NFL combine.

Howie Roseman loves stacking depth and talent in the trenches, so seeing the Philadelphia Eagles add defensive line help should surprise no one. Coming off a season that saw them set a single-season franchise record for sacks (70), there are growing whispers that reinforcements are on the way.

ESPN draft guru Todd McShay delivered them two pass-rushing specialists in his latest mock draft: Lukas Van Ness (Iowa) and Will McDonald (Iowa State).

Van Ness, penciled in at pick No. 10, could slide in alongside Jordan Davis and Fletcher Cox at defensive tackle. He could alleviate the loss of outgoing free agent Javon Hargrave to a certain degree, although their skillsets are different. Van Ness (6-foot-5, 272 pounds) recorded 6.5 sacks in 13 games last season.

“The reason I gave him to Philly is because he can play inside and out,” McShay said on a national conference call on April 5. “They lost Javon Hargrave. Fletcher Cox is coming back just on a one-year deal. Jordan Davis comes in a year ago, he’s a massive space-eater, but to have a guy in Van Ness who can play base downs and defensive end, and then can reduce inside at defensive tackle, and play next to Davis and utilize the double teams that he gets to help him with 1-on-1s and the 3-technique on passing downs, I think it would create a lot of value for him and that versatility would really help.”

Meanwhile, McDonald (6-foot-4, 239 pounds) racked up 34 sacks and 40.5 tackles for loss over five collegiate seasons. The speedy defensive end posted 2 or more sacks in 8 career games while registering a team-high 5 sacks in 2022. McShay called him a “pure edge rusher who is kind of silky smooth and has great bend.” He has the Eagles grabbing him at pick No. 30.

“He’s a pure edge who I think early in his career, he’s just going to be a pass-rush specialist as he continues to get bigger and stronger,” McShay said. “I know how much of an emphasis that Howie Roseman and that staff put on making sure that they have depth and a lot of talent along that defensive front.”

Eagles Schedule Official Visit With Joey Porter Jr.

The Eagles will host Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr. on an official top-30 visit, according to Aaron Wilson. He has already visited with the Raiders and Commanders, with scheduled trips to Baltimore, Carolina, New Orleans, and Philadelphia on the books.

It was widely assumed the Eagles were going to take a cornerback in the first round. That was before they restructured Darius Slay’s contract and brought James Bradberry back on a three-year deal. It’s not necessarily a position of need, although grabbing a future starter early in the draft could be a genius move. Porter Jr. is considered one of the top cornerbacks in this draft, maybe the third-best behind Devon Witherspoon (Illinois) and Christian Gonzalez (Oregon).

“Joey Porter is not quite as smooth in coverage as Gonzalez. He’s a little bit inconsistent with his gap discipline, and sometimes will get himself out of position but, man, if you’re playing a Cover 3, even Cover 1, and looking for press cover corners, Joey Porter Jr. from Penn State is your guy,” Todd McShay said. “He is tall, 6-2 1/2, 193 pounds, 34-inch arms … when you have arms the size of a left tackle out at cornerback, it allows you to re-route receivers, get physical, really stunt their stem as a receiver, and then he’s got the top-end speed.”

Dorian Thompson-Robinson Remains on Eagles’ Radar

Dorian Thompson-Robinson has long been rumored to be a potential Eagles target in the later rounds. He boosted his draft stock after an impressive showing at the NFL Scouting Combine, so he might be a little out of their range unless they trade up from Round 7. But the dual-threat quarterback out of UCLA is clearly on their radar, perhaps as the perfect project as a third-stringer to develop into the next Jalen Hurts.

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