You might have already noticed this, but I love the NFL draft. If any single event is going to lead to additional blog entries, this is it.
I was going to create a cheat sheet - a draft board, if you'll allow my delusions of grandeur - to keep track of players during the draft. I was opening up TextPad to start my list, and it occurred to me that a place already existed where I could document this cheat sheet. A magical place that would save this cheat sheet forever, allow me to search for it and evaluate it years later...
Enough preamble. Here's my personal ranking of the players based purely on the order that I'd like to see the Eagles draft them. If you're wondering how this relates to your favorite team, it doesn't. While Cam Newton will probably go #1 to Carolina tomorrow, he doesn't crack the Top Twenty in this list, because there are a lot of players I'd like to see the Eagles draft before him.
Just as a note, I'm stealing the analysis from Mel Kiper and Mike Mayock. I don't pretend to have watched any tape on these guys and evaluated them independently.
1) Patrick Peterson - CB, LSU
The best corner in the draft fits a glaring need for the Eagles. He has ideal size and speed (6', 4.3) and is dangerous as a return man as well. He'd be the perfect complement to Asante Samuel.
2) Nick Fairley - DT, Auburn
I don't really care about the reports that this guy is sliding down NFL draft boards. He's a disruptive force, a real penetrator from the DT position that the Eagles have lacked since Jerome Brown.
3) Prince Amukamara - CB, Nebraska
Also reportedly sliding because he lacks top-end speed. Asante Samuel lacks top-end speed too, but the Eagles system employs a lot of off coverage, or press-and-release, both of which are right in Prince's wheelhouse.
4) Robert Quinn - DE, UNC
I know, another first-round DE would make Eagles fans groan. But he simply has too much talent to pass up. Spotless character and medical histories make him even more appealing.
5) Jimmy Smith - CB, Colorado
Craziness, right? A lot of mock drafts have this guy sliding to the second round. But his size/speed ratio (6'2", 4.4) is off the charts, and a tall CB is the Eagles #1 need by leaps and bounds. I can honestly only find four guys I'd rather see the Eagles draft than Smith. Who cares if he's smoked a little weed? The character concerns are overblown, and if somehow slides to #23, the Eagles should run the podium with his name.
6) Tyron Smith - OT, USC
The Eagles would be fortunate to draft the best tackle in the draft, another need position.
7) Marcel Dareus - DT, Alabama
Is not an ideal fit for the Eagles' scheme, but he's such a dominating force that I'd be willing to take a chance on him. Probably will be drafted #2 overall, so this is a moot point.
8) Corey Liuget - DT, Illinois
Although DT is not a huge need for the Eagles, the number of good DTs in this draft is astounding. And again, while their current DTs are solid but unspectacular, a true penetrator that can wreck blocking schemes would make the entire defense look better.
9) Anthony Costanzo - OT, BC
10) Nate Solder - OT, Colorado
11) Gabe Carimi - OT, Wisconsin
Any of these three linemen would be an instant upgrade at RT, and are flexible enough to play guard if needed.
12) Cameron Jordan - DE, Cal
A DE with size who could instantly replace Juqua Parker. Has the frame to play DE on running downs and DT on passing downs.
13) Aldon Smith - DE, Missouri
Once you get past the initial comparisons - another undersized DE? - Smith is too good a player to pass up.
14) Von Miller - OLB, VT
He's way better than this ranking, and will be long gone by the Eagles pick. But he's best suited for a 3-4 OLB.
15) Derrek Sherrod - OT, Miss St
Both Kiper and McShay rank him a bit below the other group of OTs, so what the hell, I did too.
16) Muhammad Wilkerson - DT, Temple
A very talented player who's probably more suited to a 3-4 DE, but I'd happily plug him into the DT rotation.
17) Adrian Clayborn - DE, Iowa
It's not saying much, but I watched him destroy Penn State for years, and I'm delighted his time in the Big Ten is over.
18) Mike Pouncey - C, Florida
Maybe he's not as good as his brother, but he doesn't need to be an All-Star to be an improvement. Has the flexibility to play guard as well.
19) Julio Jones - WR, Oklahoma
Much, much better player than a #19 ranking, but if the Eagles draft a WR in round #1, it likely means they won't re-sign DeSean...and that's not the scenario I'm hoping for. Should be long gone by the Eagles' pick anyway.
20) AJ Green - WR, Georgia
Like Jones, has way more talent than a #20 ranking would suggest, I just don't see a place for him on the Eagles.
21) Brandon Harris - CB, Miami
Did I mention that the Eagles really need a CB?
22) Ryan Kerrigan - DE, Purdue
Undersized again, may end up as a 3-4 OLB. But he's a very productive, high-motor player who would be helpful right away in a rotation.
23) Akeem Ayers - OLB, UCLA
A play-making LB would be a welcome addition to the defense.
24) Da'Quan Bowers - DE, Clemson
I really don't want another DE with injury problems, but at this point is worth the risk.
25) JJ Watt - DE, Wisconsin
Doesn't fit the scheme as well as I like, he's an ideal 3-4 DE. But he could play DE on run downs and DT on pass downs.
26) Cam Newton - QB, Auburn
Zero chance, barely even worth a comment. Still, it would be fun to have this guy learn from Mike Vick. And it sure would be easy to trade Kolb for a 2012 pick if he was on the roster.
27) Aaron Williams - CB, Texas
28) Ras-I Dowling - CB, Virginia
Two words: Dmitri Patterson.
At this point, I find myself ranking guys like Mark Ingram and Blaine Gabbert, who won't be around when the Eagles pick and would be no use to them anyway. So I'll stop here and pray that the Birds can somehow grab two of these 28.