The latest 2023 NFL mock draft from ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. is hot off the digital presses, and as usual, he’s got a surprise name in the top 10.
This particular swing from left field by Kiper is Pitt defensive lineman Calijah Kancey, who he sends to the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 10 overall.
Here’s what Kiper had to say about the pick:
The Eagles, one of the NFL’s four best teams, gained this first-rounder from New Orleans last year, and now they have a chance to add a premium prospect to their loaded roster. They don’t have many current needs, but they do have several decisions to make in free agency, including whether to bring back defensive linemen Fletcher Cox, Robert Quinn, Brandon Graham and Javon Hargrave. Let’s use this pick to help them get younger.
Kancey’s 2022 tape is extremely impressive, and I moved him way up my Big Board. He wreaked havoc the past two seasons, racking up 13.5 sacks when lined up as a defensive tackle, the most in the country. At 6-foot, 280 pounds, he’s undersized, but so was former Pitt tackle Aaron Donald. (To be clear, he’s not Donald, but he’s still pretty good.) We know Philadelphia general manager Howie Roseman invests heavily in the D-line, and Kancey would fit next to 2022 first-rounder Jordan Davis.
This is obviously a luxury pick for the Eagles, thanks to last year’s draft-day trade with the New Orleans Saints, but that doesn’t mean they should spend it on a prospect that’s off the first-round radar for most draft analysts at this point.
It’s always possible that Kancey could make a late push up the board with a strong showing throughout the predraft process, but considering his lack of size, it’s hard to imagine him leaping into the top 10.
Yes, the Eagles place a high value on interior defensive line play, but passing up all of the top corners in this draft at No. 10 in favor of Kancey would be an interesting choice to say the least.
To check out Kiper’s full mock draft at ESPN, click here.