Ideally, every team in the NFL wants to be able to select the best player available when it’s their turn to pick in the draft. Usually, that is the case for the Philadelphia Eagles. But in 2015, it looks like they may not be possible with some glaring needs remaining on their roster.
As a fan, I always want the birds to select the best player available, regardless of position. Yet this year, Philadelphia needs to find new starters at right guard, wide receiver and safety. With little talent left in free agency, the draft is where they’ll likely look to fill each of those holes. Barring any trades, the Eagles and head coach Chip Kelly will have eight picks in he 2015 NFL Draft. This year’s draft class is deep at both offensive guard and wide receiver, so they could wait until late day two or day three of the event to address those spots.
But the safety class is the complete opposite. There is only one highly touted prospect at the position, Landon Collins from Alabama. After that, it’s slim pickings including quite a bit of “project” players.
Many believe the Eagles won’t be interested in him because he “can’t cover” but I don’t believe that will be the case. Collins is a mammoth of a man at 6’0″, 228 lbs., which is big for a safety, almost built like a linebacker. His weight may be why he struggles in coverage, but he does good enough and knows how to “lay the wood” when someone comes across the field as well. Is he going to be a single high safety? No. But if he’s there at 20th overall, the Eagles might find it tough to pass on such a great talent.
It’s safe to say Philadelphia may be done with “projects” after selecting linebacker Marcus Smith in the first round of last year’s draft. But there are some cornerbacks that have also spent time at safety in college, those players could intrigue the Eagles.
Kelly personally made a trip to Utah’s pro day to get an up close look at their cornerback Eric Rowe. Wait…a cornerback? Yes, but before the 2014 season, Rowe spent three years as one of the team’s starting safeties. He has the ideal size the Eagles look for in the secondary at 6’1″, 205 lbs. and his versatility in coverage is very intriguing. I’ve been on the Rowe bandwagon for quite a while, which you could see on my Twitter. But if he’s drafted by the Eagles, they’ll find a way to make him work at either safety or cornerback, he’s too talented not to succeed.
Byron Jones put his name on the map at the 2015 scouting combine after a ridiculous broad jump of 12″3′. But when you go back and watch the film, Jones is a great player too, not just a workout warrior. He has good size at 6’0″, 199 lbs. with 32″ arms and 10″ hands. Jones also spent time playing both safety and cornerback at Connecticut. He’s similar to Rowe in that aspect but Philadelphia has yet to show significant interest in him.
Another prospect the Eagles have shown interest in is Arizona State safety Damarious Randall. He’s a bit on the smaller side for a safety at 5’11”, 196 lbs., but he’s good in coverage which is what the team really covets. Randall is a dangerous blitzer as well, which would add a new wrinkle to the team’s defense if he ends up with the birds. Randall will also visit Philadelphia to see the team’s facility prior to the draft as well, according to CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler.
One last name to watch for is Penn State safety Adrian Amos. He’s more of a traditional safety than the previously mentioned prospects, but he can do everything well. Amos has good size at 6’0″, 218 lbs. with 32 1/4″ arms and ran a blazing 4.37 40-yard dash at his pro day. According to Aaron Wilson, the Eagles were in attendance at Penn State’s pro day took Amos to the side to watch film with him as well. That’s something to keep an eye on.
Philadelphia could always wait until later in the draft to address the safety spot. But I believe addressing the position on day one or early day two would be ideal. With such a limited selection of prospects available at the position, Kelly and the Eagles have to find “their guy” to start at safety somewhere in the 2015 NFL Draft.
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