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NFL Draft Guru Mel Kiper Sees Eagles Taking ‘Underrated’ Baylor Track Star


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NFL Draft Guru Mel Kiper Sees Eagles Taking ‘Underrated’ Baylor Track Star

  • Updated Mar 24, 2022 at 10:54am
JT Woods

Getty: Baylor safety J.T. Woods would be a perfect fit for the Eagles in the third or fourth round.

Safety is the one position the Philadephia Eagles need to strike it rich on in April’s draft. They have no veteran depth after missing on everyone in free agency. Their starting tandem entering the 2022 campaign? Anthony Harris and Marcus Epps.

Not great. Luckily, the NFL draft provides an opportunity for a quick fix. ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. sees plenty of options for the Eagles on Day 2 and later. He provided Heavy with a list of hard-hitting safeties to watch, highlighted by a college track star. Keep an eye on J.T. Woods out of Baylor in the third or fourth round.

"I’ll tell you a guy I like who’s underrated is J.T. Woods from Baylor,” Kiper told Heavy. "You know, [Jalen] Pitre gets all the publicity and rightfully so — he’s a heck of a player — but J.T. Woods is a good football player. I like him a lot. When I went back to watch two or three games from last year he jumped out, J.T. Woods in the third or the fourth round would be a good pick.”

Pitre is considered a sure-fire second-rounder, but his partner in the secondary is severely underrated. Woods (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) has legitimate sprinter’s speed — 4.36 seconds in the 40 — and earned a reputation as a "rangy playmaker” for the Bears. He finished the 2021 campaign with 56 tackles while leading the Big 12 Conference with six interceptions. He had the fifth-most career-interception return yards in program history (201).

Safety Dance: Second-Round Options

Woods might be Kiper’s favorite to land in Philly, but he’s far from the only option. ESPN’s draft guru sees potential fits in Lewis Cine (Georgia), Jaquan Brisker (Penn State), Daxton Hill (Michigan). Those three guys would join Jalen Pitre (Baylor) if the Eagles wanted to burn a second-round pick on an impact safety.


Percy Butler (Louisiana-Lafayette) would be an intriguing option in the fourth or fifth round, according to Kiper. He had 44 tackles, along with two interceptions, six pass breakups, and two forced fumbles in 2021. And Nick Cross (Maryland) could be there in the fourth or fifth round, per Kiper. He had 66 tackles, plus three sacks and three picks last season.

Todd McShay – Kiper’s colleague at ESPN — threw one more name into the mix: Kerby Joseph out of Illinois. Scouts love his ball skills, although he lacks "thump-and-finish” when making tackles in the box. He could stand to bulk up a bit, too.

Forget About Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton

Kyle Hamilton (Notre Dame) is probably the most heralded safety to come out of college since Isaiah Simmons. Or maybe Minkah Fitzpatrick is a better comparison. Either way, Hamilton is expected to be a stud, a plug-and-play starter and a perennial Pro Bowler.

Kiper has him going to the Detroit Lions at No. 2 overall in his most recent mock draft. Is there any way he could drop to the Eagles at No. 15? Perish the thought. No chance.

"It’s not going to happen,” Kiper said. "Because he’s going to go 2 I think. And if he doesn’t go 2, then he goes 3 or 4.”

The Eagles own three picks in the first round — No. 15, No. 16, No. 19 — and Kiper has them addressing other needs outside of safety with those selections. He’s not convinced they hold onto all three picks but if they did he likes the following guys: DE Jermaine Johnson II (Florida State), WR Chris Olave (Ohio State), LB Devin Lloyd (Utah).

"I don’t think they use all three but having that maneuverability is going to be interesting to see how creative they are come draft day,” Kiper said. "This is a deep draft in some spots, like in the fourth and fifth rounds, so you can find starters in those rounds.”


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So, basically its not happening. Mel Kiper is a wonderful analyst if you take the opposite of what he says.

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No way they can go beyond day 2 without taking a safety. 

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