Eagles Have Options With Their First Round Pick


Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY

With the NFL Combine under way, the Philadelphia Eagles will be looking at all their options for their first round pick. The Eagles own the number 22 pick in the upcoming 2014 NFL draft. The team currently has needs at the Safety, Outside Linebacker, Corner, and Wide Receiver positions. These positions need to be addressed and the Eagles have a good chance to fill one of those needs with their first round pick. This is a deep and talented draft and has gotten praise from numerous draft experts. Philadelphia has gone to the best avaible system so they should have no problem selecting someone who can come in and play and upgrade the team’s current status.

Arguably the biggest need is the Safety position. With the Eagles starting Safety, Nate Allen, becoming a free agent and the other Safety Patrick Chung’s ineffectiveness, this has become a pressing need. Lousiville’s Calvin Pryor and Alabama’s Haha Clinton-Dix seem to be the only Safeties worthy of a first round selection. Pryor at 6’2 and 208lbs is the more physical of the two and lays the wood on offensive players who dare to take him on and brings good intensity. Clinton-Dix has similar size to Pryor but he uses it differently. Clinton-Dix is good in coverage has good speed and is a great run supporter and comes from a great Alabama defense. If any of these two players are available at number 22 the Philadelphia Eagles should not hesitate to take them. Both of these players can be really good fits for the Eagles and will instantly start and upgrade a position that’s been lacking talent for years.

When the Eagles switched from the 4-3 defense to a 3-4 the team knew that there would be a couple of players that would have to play out of position. The team’s current starter Trent Cole has had success at Defensive End but was inconsistent and was awkward in coverage as a 3-4 Outside Linebacker. The lack of a consistent edge rusher hurt the Eagles at times during this past season. This draft has quality edge rushers but with the number 22 pick some of the “elite” pass rushers will more than likely be gone. But Auburn’s Dee Ford is an interesting prospect at 6’2 250lbs, he’s a bit undersized but has a great speed rush and technique. He finished this past season with 10.5 sacks and could improve an inconsistent pass rush. He might be a reach at number 22 but if the Eagles want a good pass rusher Dee Ford might be their man.

The Corner position at times was a strength for the Philadelphia Eagles, but when one of the starters went down with an injury the lack of depth showed and was exploited. This lack of depth has to be addressed in this draft. Whether the team wants to spend a first round pick on this position remains to be seen. Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert and Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard are the best corners in the draft. Mock drafts have both of these players being selected all over the first round. So it depends how teams feel about these players to see if they’ll even be available. Justin Gilbert has good size for a corner at 6’1 200lbs which has become a hot commodity in the NFL. He has good instincts and plays Special Teams which was also a weakness for the Eagles. Darqueze Dennard is a bit smaller than Gilbert at 5’11 but still plays physical and was great in man coverage. The Eagles can give these guys a sniff if they’re available.

The Wide Receiver position is a bit tricky. This years receiver draft class is deep enough that the team can get a quality player in the later rounds, but there is some serious talent that’s available in the first round. The Eagles have impending free agents at the wide receiver position with Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper. So the team will look into this draft to replace either one of these players or both. Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin at 6’5 240lbs  has the size and talent to become a pro bowler. He has tremendous leaping ability, sticky hands at times, and pinpoints the ball while in the air. Benjamin lacks crisp route running and elite speed but some of his flaws are coachable and his speed is good enough to think twice about not sending a double team his way. He has a great chance of being available by the time the Eagles are on the clock. If he is, the Eagles may want to give him some heavy consideration.