By Max Harper

The NFL draft is sooner than you think.

And the Eagles have three picks in the first round.

So, let’s see who ESPN’s hype artist Mel Kiper thinks the Birds will take:

Mel Kiper (ESPN)

Pick 15: Jermaine Johnson, DE, Florida State (above): The Eagles haven’t been super active in free agency, though they did add impact edge rusher Haason Reddick and bring back defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. I don’t think any of their needs have changed since my last mock draft. I’m looking at wide receiver, cornerback, safety, off-ball linebacker and defensive end — yes, they still need one — to fill out their three first-round picks.

That leads me to Johnson, a one-year starter who transferred from Georgia to FSU and had a stellar 2021 season. He was excellent at the Senior Bowl and has moved from a possible top-50 pick to likely landing in the top 20. NFL teams always want pass-rushers, and he could help immediately.

Pick 16: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State: Olave can play early and often for a Philadelphia team that has to get more out of its passing game with quarterback Jalen Hurts. Olave is a speedster (4.39 40-yard dash at the combine) who had 13 touchdowns last season. This would be the Eagles’ third straight draft taking a wideout in Round 1, but it should be a priority if they want to get back to the playoffs.

Pick 19: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah: Here’s a spot to fill Philadelphia’s void at off-ball linebacker. Lloyd was one of the best all-around defenders in college football last season, racking up 111 total tackles, eight sacks, 20 tackles for loss, four interceptions and a forced fumble. He has some juice as a blitzer and can cover tight ends and running backs in the passing game. Lloyd’s 4.66 40-yard dash at the combine means he doesn’t have the straight-line speed of former top-five pick Devin White (a linebacker I’ve compared him to), but I don’t think he should drop past the Eagles.

That’s three early starters for the Eagles here, with Lloyd, Chris Olave and Jermaine Johnson II.

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