Staff writer Steve Fini takes a look at the potential defensive line draft targets in his latest NFL Draft preview.
Michael Brockers (DT/LSU) - The Eagles have taken three defensive tackles in the first round since Andy Reid took over in 1999. None of them have been great. Corey Simon, Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson were (are, in Patterson’s case) solid contributors, but simply not worth a first round pick.
But Brockers has big potential and could very well be worth the pick. He was the most dominant player on a defensive line that was the best in the nation. He’s only a sophomore, so inexperience is a concern. But he’s physically gifted and would add another young, dynamic piece to what has become a very solid defensive. He’s probably not my first choice for the Eagles, but they want to build they are fixated on the defensive line, so this makes sense.
With Antonio Dixon hurt, Derek Landri merely a rotational player, Trevor Laws a bust, and Mike Patterson’s production falling off, defensive tackle is a bigger need than most fans think. Brockers could be a force if teamed with Cullen Jenkins.
Melvin Ingram (DE/South Carolina) – Having a solid defense is all about the pass rush and that’s exactly what Ingram does well. Think of him as a more athletic Brandon Graham. Unlike Graham, however, Ingram wouldn’t be considered a reach. He’s projected to go in the middle part of the draft and he is a playmaker. He’s around 6-1, 270-pounds with a high motor and excellent speed off the edge. I think Brockers is the better player, but Ingram fits the mold of the type of player the Eagles like to draft. High motor. Good burst. Undersized.
Sound familiar? I just have a feeling Ingram is on their radar.
Quinton Coples (DE/North Carolina) – Physical freak is the best way to describe Coples. He’s huge at 6’6, 270lbs and is ultra-athletic. He draws comparisons to Julius Peppers, and not just because of the UNC ties. Both can dominate at times. Unfortunately, he’s also developed Peppers’ lack of interest in certain parts of his game. Coples isn’t a high motor guy and gives up on plays when he feels defeated. If consistently motivated, he’d be a lock for a top 10 pick, and probably will be anyway. But if he falls down the board a bit, look for the Eagles to take a long, hard look at him. He doesn’t fit the persona of Jim Washburn type edge rushers, but he can be moved anywhere on the defensive line on passing downs.
Devon Still (DT/Penn State) – Still really came on strong for the Nittany Lions. He fits as a DE/DT in a 3-4, but played as a 4-3 DT in college. Physically, he has all the tools but was in the doghouse for years with Joe Paterno. Once he put it all together he showed a great ability to create pressure up the middle which is something you need if you want to win in a pass happy NFL. I feel a team that runs a 3-4 scheme will take him before the Eagles pick, and with only one year of real great production I don’t think the Eagles will take him. But they have taken one year wonders before…they just usually come from Florida State.
Other names to consider included Memphis DE Dontari Poe and Michigan State’s Jerel Worthy.