The biggest challenges facing potential Eagles first-round draft prospects

They're going to be good, but here are some of the biggest challenges known Eagles draft prospects are going to face at the NFL level.
Alabama v LSU
Alabama v LSU / Jonathan Bachman/GettyImages

The day approaches. With all the respect due to a fantastic American city, the Motor City isn't always one of the centers of the football universe. It was, however, during the recent deep playoff run by the Detroit Lions, and all eyes will rest on Motown again when the Philadelphia Eagles and each of the other 31 franchises descend for the NFL Draft.

If nothing changes between now and then (or during the selection meeting), Philly is scheduled to make eight choices. Three come between picks 22 and 53. There's a chance that a few stars will be added.

We've all been eyeing the mock drafts (and, we have been writing a few of our own). We won't have to wait much longer to see what the Birds plans are to bolster the roster. We've been keeping up with the pre-draft visits Philly has hosted and the guys who have caught Philly's eye.

Here are some of the top prospects at positions of need who figure to be available to the Eagles at the 22nd overall selection (and their biggest weaknesses).

There aren't many fully polished athletes who enter each NFL Draft, but that's why teams employ coaches. We've spoken with scouts. We've hung out at Pro Days, and we've watched more college football than we have in a while. Here's what we have come up with.

We've identified some of the top potential first-rounders who play positions Philly should address. Here are some names you've heard auite a bit these past two weeks, along with some potential concerns and weaknesses.

Edgerrin Cooper, linebacker, Texas A&M

Biggest concerns: Play recognition and pass coverage

Edgerrin Cooper might be the best interior linebacker prospect in the coming draft. We also know he met with Philly for a pre-draft visit, so turn the volume up whenever we hear his name mentioned.

While, he's a speedster with elite atleticism, he guesses wrong from time to time, but he's been able to make up for that at the collegiate level because of the aforementioned elite athleticicm. The problem with that is every NFL team fields elite athletes, so Cooper will have to be sharper.

He also struggles in coverage from time to time and misses tackles. Hopefully, that can be cured with coaching.

Kool-Aid McKinstry, cornerback, Alabama

Biggest concern: Strength, might be overly-physical

Kool-Aid McKinstry entered his final season with the Alabama Crimson Tide viewed as a potential top-10 2024 NFL Draft prospect. A few months later, we learned that his teammate Terrion Arnold is a better player, and McKinstry is in danger of sliding into the latter third of the players who will be selected on night one.

McKinstry played well in coverage last season except for Bama's game versus Texas. The Longhorns receivers bullied him some, and with his five-foot-eleven, 199-pound frame, that might be common once he reaches the NFL.

While some may not view this as a knock, there are questions about whether or not he's too physical and if that will lead to flags. He should enjoy a long and decent career at the pro level, but if that's to happen, it will be as a number two cornerback as there are questions about whether his ceiling is as a number one option that can cover the opposing offense's best receiver.

Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State

Biggest concern: Durability and body structure

Pro Football Focus labels Chop Robinson as a potential boom-or-bust prospect before the selection meeting. Here's what Trevor Sikkema, the writer of this one, lists as some of his reasons for doing so.

"Robinson's production over the past few seasons was less than stellar, including only 5 1/2 sacks in 2022 and four sacks in 2023. Now, he did earn PFF pass-rushing grades of 92.4 and 92.3 in each of the past two seasons with 20.0%-plus pass-rush win rates, which is very impressive. The risk here stems from Robinson's lack of length, both in his legs and his arms, and how that projects to the next level. His wingspan ranks in the 5th percentile for edge rushers, and his stride length doesn’t cover much ground at the snap, even with his explosiveness."

Robinson was expected to be Penn State's chief pass rusher, but injuries forced him to miss all but seven games. That opened the door for Adisa Isaac.

Amarius Mims, offensive tackle, Georgia

Biggest concern: Inexperience and technique

Amarius Mims is projected to be a potential first-rounder, and several mock drafts have linked him to the Eagles for obvious reasons. Lane Johnson isn't going to play forever. Philly loves taking O-linemen early, and we don't talk about their need for depth at tackle often enough. The former UGA star has the talent to be a starting NFL tackle.

It's amazing that someone who stands at six-foot-eight and tips the scales at 340 pounds can move so well, but as you also know, that's what Jeff Stoutland and the Eagles crave in their linemen. His lack of experience could lead to a steep learning curve. He only started eight games collegiately.

Still, if Philly is willing to invest, Mims is a nice idea. He'll have to learn to sustain blocks in the rushing attack and be better at the second level, but he's deserving of those first-round grades.

Cooper DeJean, safety, Iowa

Biggest concern: Agility and concerns about whether he's battle-tested

Cooper DeJean is versatile and can play outside and inside at cornerback. Some have even said he can play a hybrid safety role, causing issues while playing deep or in the box. Those are all some of his good traits. His areas of opportunity are as follows.

Lance Zierlein of lists "hip tightness" and agility among his weaknesses in his pre-draft profile of the former Iowa star. It's hard to teach that, so that will be hard to overcome in man coverage. Zierlein also states the following:

DeJean "struggles to open hips and find sudden acceleration against press release. He also "fails to turn and find the football when traveling with deep routes." Something else worth mentioning is he didn't always face much in terms of competition.

He's graded as a first-rounder. He should be, but time will tell how pro-ready he is.

Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA

Biggest concern: Strength, injury history, and leverage

Laiatu Latu made a lot of splash plays for Chip Kellly's UCLA Bruins. The stat line kind of jumps out at you: 49 tackles, 13 sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and two pass breakups. Still, as good as he is, there are areas of opportunity. Some of these include the following.

There are still medical concerns stemming from a neck injury he suffered during his time at Washington. Interested teams will certainly want to know if that needs evaluation. Coaches will be more involved with evaluating his technique.

He doesn't always seem to have the proper leverage needed to beat blocks while engaged. He plays with power but can be moved on running downs, and his pursuit speed leaves much to be desired.

Worth mentioning: Tyler Nubin, safety, Miami

Biggest concern: Average athleticism and injury history

It's doubtful that the Eagles will pursue a safety early, but Tyler Nubin is fun to discuss. He is graded as a second-rounder often, but he could sneak into the back third of Round 1.

Eagles fans hate seeing guys miss tackles, and Nubin certainly misses his share. He also possesses average top-end speed and burst. His instincts and football IQ are exceptional, but it is unlikely that he'll land in Philly.

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