Monday, April 19, 2010

Andy, pick one of these guys

The Eagles are in an enviable position this (extended) weekend, with 5 picks in the first three rounds. With the first three picks, I'm expecting two DBs, probably a corner and a safety. Here's a list of players I'd like to see in Eagles green this fall:

Earl Thomas - Safety, Texas - Often listed as a hybrid corner/safety, which is exactly what the Eagles need on the back end of their defense. Loose hips, good ball skills, and an ability to blitz make up for his lack of ideal size. May not make it to 24, I'd like to see the Eagles trade up if he drops into the 18-20 range.

Kyle Wilson - Corner, Boise St. - A physical, press corner and sure tackler, would make a perfect complement to Asante Samuel. Another player who may not drop all the way to 24.

Nate Allen - Safety, South Florida - If the Eagles don't get Thomas at 24, Allen would be a nice consolation prize at 37. Again lacks ideal size for a safety, but has elite cover skills, which the Eagles value over size anyway.

Kareen Jackson - Corner, Alabama - Solid and disciplined, could be selected at 24 or 37.

Chris Cook - Corner, Virginia - At 6'2", many NFL scouts see him as a safety, but he's fluid enough to cover wide receivers. I'd love to see the Eagles target him with the 55th pick.

Sean Weatherspoon - Linebacker, Mississippi - I know Andy Reid has never taken a LB in the first round, but this is the kind of guy who might shake things up. Able to line up at all three LB spots and play effectively in space, Weatherspoon is an ideal fit for what the Eagles need from their LBs. Initially, I thought there was no chance he'd be available at 24, but he is reportedly sliding down some draft boards so could be there when the Eagles pick. Unless Earl Thomas or Patrick Wilson was staring me in the face, I'll run to the podium and select Weatherspoon.

Daryl Washington - Linebacker, TCU - An outside LB with good speed and the frame to bulk up to 250. Might be a nice fit at SAM, where the Eagles are weakest, with one of their second-round picks.

Sean Lee - Linebacker, Penn State - Another versatile LB who has been effective both blitzing and in space, he would be a nice addition for the Eagles in the second round. As a PSU fan, I've watched him for three years, and I'd take him on my team anytime.

Jason Pierre-Paul - DE, South Florida - No idea where this guy will be picked, because he's such an intriguing player. Only played a single season of football, he was a basketball player who made the switch late in his career. At 6'5", 270, he has the size and athletic ability of a Jerome Kearse, but almost no experience to draw on. He has displayed a relentless motor and passion for the game, which many believe will propel him to reach his limitless potential. Could be a top-10 pick or a second-rounder. Not really in the Eagles mold, but if he's staring them in the face at 24, they'll have to think hard about passing.

Derrick Morgan - DE, Georgia Tech - The ACC defensive player of the year, might be the best all-around 4-3 DE in the draft. With half the league playing 3-4 defenses now, there's an outside chance he could fall to the Eagles. If he's there, I suspect they run to the podium and select him.

Everson Griffin - DE, USC - A huge DE (over 300 lbs) who displayed unbelievable pass rush ability for someone his size. Not really in the Eagles mold for DEs, but maybe they are sick of having teams run all over their undersized defense, and will go against the grain with this selection. He'll definitely be able to set the edge, and can pressure the QB as well. Would be a surprise pick at 24, but could possibly fall to 37, where they'd have no choice but to take him.

A lot of mock drafts have the Eagles selecting an offensive lineman in the first round, and I can't argue with the sentiment. The problem is that there are no tackles rated near the bottom of the first round (Rodger Saffold from Indiana is the lone exception, depending on who you listen to, and he's the fifth-best OT prospect.) And Reid has only picked one OL with his first pick, and that was Shawn Andrews, who played tackle. Mock drafters who select G Tony Iupati or C/G Markice Pouncey for the Eagles are simply not doing their homework. For interior lineman, the Eagles have had tremendous success picking them later in the draft (Todd Herremans 5th, Jamaal Jackson undrafted, Nick Cole undrafted, Max Jean-Gilles 4th), and I don't see Iupati or Pouncey as special enough to break that pattern. They are both solid, and if the Eagles pick one I won't necessarily complain, but there will be better value at other positions.

Another contingent of draftniks has the Eagles trading way up to grab #1 safety Eric Berry, or trading as high as #10 to select Earl Thomas. While I believe the Eagles love both, I don't see this as a wise move. This year's draft has a group of players between 20 and 45 who are very strong. The Eagles are unlikely to trade both their picks from this range to select a single guy. For instance, I'd much rather have Kareen Jackson and Nate Allen than just Eric Berry. The most likely scenario for a trade-up would be something similar to last season, when they gave up a fifth-rounder to move up two spots. At most, they'll give up a third to jump to 18, but I'd be shocked to see them give up a second in any deal.

The first round starts tonight at 7:30, and I can't wait.


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