The Eagles proved again to be outside-the-box thinkers Tuesday by eschewing the plethora of free-agent linebacker options (Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne and London Fletcher), and instead traded for a more talented one in Houston's DeMeco Ryans (see story).
The big question now is whether the acquisition of Ryans means that mock draft darling Luke Kuechly is off the Eagles' radar.
Kuechly is a natural MLB, like Ryans, but in my estimation is certainly athletic enough to man the SAM position if the Eagles did want to upgrade that position.
Ryans, 27, is a year removed from rupturing his Achilles tendon, so it wouldn't be out of the question to pick Kuechly, play him outside for a year or two, and then move him over once Ryans departs. Andy Reid has done that before.
Back in 2002, Reid selected cornerbacks Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown in the first and second rounds respectively, despite having Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent both playing good football at the time. Reid knew his vets had one or two good years left and was willing to invest in the future, even if it meant his two high picks wouldn't pay immediate impacts.
I doubt that's what Reid is going to do, but it's not out of the realm of possibility if Kuechly is still there at No. 15 in the draft. Kuechly's Boston College pro day is March 21, and another great performance like he had at the NFL Combine might make the above conversation moot.
Assuming that Reid decides he's set in the middle with Ryans and is going to pass on Kuechly, here are five players to watch at No. 15:
1. Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
2. Courtney Upshaw, LBDE, Alabama
While Upshaw played a hybrid LBDE in Nick Saban's 3-4 defense, he's agile enough to play the SAM in a 4-3. He could also provide some pass rush ability from the outside. Watch Upshaw in Alabama's 2011 game against Florida here (see video).
3. Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Poe is huge (6-4, 346) and perhaps better suited as a 3-4 NT, but he has the agility to play anywhere on the line, in any scheme. He would bring the size the Birds need but also with the quickness the defensive scheme demands.
4. Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
I like Baylor's Kendall Wright more, but Floyd gives the Eagles the size (6-3, 220) they lack. He would be a bit of a luxury pick, but I would understand it. See Floyd's career highlights here (see video).
5. Nick Perry, DE, USC
Yes, the Birds just re-signed Trent Cole through 2016, but Reid has a hard time passing on rush ends. Perry, who is no undersized end at 6-foot-3 and 271 pounds, might be best suited for a 3-4 OLB role. However, he's strong, quick and would provide Jim Washburn's wide nine with yet another weapon. Check out his highlights here (see video).
Jared Sherman has been providing CSNPhilly.com with draft analysis since 2000. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Phillyjared.