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Super Bowl LII: 2018 NFL Draft fits for Eagles, Patriots


Coaches and players for the Eagles and Patriots are focused on their game plans for Super Bowl LII, but the scouts for the two clubs are entrenched in their prep for the 2018 NFL Draft.

Which draft prospects could help each Super Bowl team maintain its excellence next season and beyond? Here are five fits for each squad. The players listed here are ranked 1-5 in order of where I believe they might be selected based on current grades.

NOTE: The Eagles and Patriots will hold either the 31st or 32nd picks, depending on the outcome of the Super Bowl (loser will pick 31st, winner will pick 32nd). ... The Eagles have traded their second- (to select quarterback Carson Wentz) and third-round (to acquire cornerback Ronald Darby) picks in the draft. ... The Patriots hold two second-rounders, as they acquired one from the 49ers in the Jimmy Garoppolo trade.

New England Patriots draft fits

1) Sam Hubbard, EDGE, Ohio State
Projection: Rounds 1-2
The skinny: Hubbard would bring the type of versatility that Mike Vrabel did to the Patriots defense back in the day. Hubbard's size and athleticism will allow him to play standing up or with his hand on the ground. He also offers the toughness New England seeks.

2) Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Projection: Rounds 1-2
The skinny: The Patriots could be looking for help at cornerback this offseason with Malcolm Butler and Johnson Bademosi both due to become free agents. Jackson's length and ball skills should allow him to play immediately.

3) Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond
Projection: Rounds 2-3
The skinny: Lauletta starred in the Senior Bowl last week, and I'm not the only draft analyst who came away from the game thinking he'd be a fine fit for New England. The Patriots selected Jimmy Garoppolo out of Eastern Illinois in the second round a few years ago, and there's no reason to think they won't use a second- or third-round pick on another potential future starter. Lauletta has plenty of arm, mobility, and makes good decisions.

4) Jaylen Samuels, RB, N.C. State
Projection: Rounds 2-3
The skinny: Imagine, if you will, a world in which Tom Brady has a Swiss-Army Knife like Samuels at his disposal. The Wolfpack star can operate as a tailback in many situations (especially in short yardage), play an H-back position, or line up in the slot at any time to be a receiving threat.

5) Geron Christian, OT, Louisville
Projection: Rounds 4-5
The skinny: OT might be high on the needs list for the Patriots this offseason if Nate Solder, who's due to become a free agent, does not return. However, if they're looking to add depth at the position in the middle rounds, Christian would be a solid pickup. Louisville coach Bobby Petrino flips his linemen from side to side regularly during the course of a game depending upon the play call, so Christian should be able to stick as a swing tackle.

Philadelphia Eagles draft fits

1) Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
Projection: Round 1
The skinny: The Eagles must continue to keep their defense strong if they want to maintain a balanced attack. Not all NFL scouts are as high on Jefferson as I am, but I think his size/speed combination makes him worthy of a late first-round selection. He could replace Nigel Bradham on the strong side if Bradham departs in free agency, or possibly line up inside if Bradham returns.

2) Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
Projection: Round 1
The skinny: OT is a position to watch for Philadelphia this offseason. Nine-time Pro Bowl selectee Jason Peters, recovering from a season-ending knee injury he suffered in October, intends to play next season. The 36 year old is signed through 2019, but it won't be a surprise if the Eagles want to add some youth at the position this offseason. If Philly passes on a player like Jefferson in Round 1, it could look to Miller or Mississippi State's Martinas Rankin as the sort of reliable pass protector it needs to keep Carson Wentz healthy.

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3) Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame
Projection: Rounds 3-4
The skinny: There will be value at the running back position in the middle rounds once again this year. Last year, guys like Jamaal Williams (Packers) and Marlon Mack (Colts) were still on the board late in the fourth round. With Darren Sproles and LeGarrette Blount due to hit free agency, head coach Doug Pederson might want to add a bruising back like Adams to pound the rock.

4) Kentavius Street, DE, N.C. State
Projection: Rounds 4-5
The skinny: GM Howie Roseman is a smart personnel evaluator who thinks long term when he's making draft selections. DEs Brandon Graham and Chris Long are due to hit free agency after the 2018 season, so landing the powerful and quick Street in the middle rounds could prove to be a wise move.

5) Jason Cabinda, LB, Penn State
Projection: Rounds 5-6
The skinny: The Eagles might need to replace Dannell Ellerbe, who's due to become a free agent, in the middle of their defense. If you want a tough-minded Mike linebacker, Cabinda's your guy.

Follow Chad Reuter on Twitter @chad_reuter.



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