Players the Eagles should target or avoid in Round 1 of the NFL draft

Players the Eagles should target or avoid in Round 1 of the NFL draft

5 players the Eagles should not/will not draft in Round 1

 

Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

Fans love the hard-hitting safety, but Pryor may not be a great fit the Eagles’ scheme. He’s largely untested in man coverage, and somewhat average athleticism leaves open the concern it would ever be a plus. Ideally, coaches scheme to great players’ strengths, but if Pryor is significantly limited, he’s probably not the best player available in Round 1.

Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn

Trent Cole and Brandon Graham just made the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker, to varying degrees of success. Now the Eagles are supposed to try again with Ford? It’s probably easier to teach an impressionable rookie to go from playing with his hand in the dirt to standing up than it is an established veteran. Then again, there are other pass-rush prospects who already have that experience.

Louis Nix III, NT, Notre Dame

Howie Roseman would like you to know the Eagles are quite satisfied with Bennie Logan at nose tackle. If Logan gets to 325 pounds, Nix actually isn’t much bigger than that, not to mention there are a lot of questions about his consistency/durability/all-around athleticism. Plus, in the pass-happy NFL, the nose tackle is probably only on the field roughly 50 percent of the time, so why invest a first-round pick?

Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

The Eagles definitely need a cornerback, but all of the evidence we have strongly suggests it will not be Verrett. All of the notable cornerbacks the Eagles have signed since Chip Kelly arrived—Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Nolan Carroll—are 6’0” or taller. Verrett is 5’9”. He may wind up being a heck of a player, but I can’t envision Chip going down that route.

Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

First and foremost, the Eagles don’t need a quarterback now that Nick Foles is firmly entrenched as the starting signal-caller. Manziel’s size and penchant for ad-libbing are too Vick-like for my tastes anyway. I’ll go on record as saying the team that dumps a top-10 pick on this kid will regret it.

 

 

Bonus: 5 potential surprise first-round picks for the Eagles

 

Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State

Honestly, Bucannon may be the best safety in this draft. He’s bigger than Pryor or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. He performed better than them at the combine. He was more productive in college, too. A lot of people would say No. 22 is too high, and maybe it is, but I could see him sneaking into the first round given his body of work.

Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana

Once considered a mid-round prospect by many, Latimer has had a rocket strapped to his back ever since he ran a sub-4.4 40 at his pro day. At 6’2”, has ideal size to play on the outside—in fact, he was the strongest receiver at the combine. Oh, and scouting reports mention he’s a plus blocker. We’ll soon find out if the dramatic rise in draft stock was real or not, but he’s a player to watch regardless.

Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

If Ebron lasts to No. 22, I honestly think the Eagles would pass only because they could get a quality tight end in the Round 2. However, it would not shock me if he wound up in midnight green. Yes, they already have Zach Ertz, but tight end could become a focal point in Chip’s offense if they add another stud. There’s value to be had later, but Ebron is the best tight end prospect in the draft, and mocks suggest he could fall.

Zack Martin, OG, Notre Dame

This is really just a shot in the dark. All indications are Martin will be long gone before the Eagles are up at No. 22. My gut feeling is one or two really good players are going to be around later than expected though. If it’s Martin, both of Philly’s guards are in their 30s, and one of them is on the trade block. No-brainer. Could even be a surprise trade-up candidate as well.

Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech

No. 22 is probably too high for Attaochu, but he could be the target if the Eagles were to trade down, which given the fact that they only have six picks, might be in the team's best interest anyway. The highly productive pass-rusher from Georgia Tech racked up 43.5 tackles for loss and 31.5 sacks over a four-year collegiate career. He can play with his hand in the dirt or line up as a standup pass-rusher. Fits the Eagles’ defense, fills a big need.

 

Kulp's 5 ideal prospects for Eagles' first-round pick

 

Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

If Barr slips past the Titans at No. 11, there’s a very real chance he’ll last to No. 22, or at least fall far enough that he’s within striking distance for a trade up. The Eagles need another pass-rusher, preferably one who can take over for Trent Cole next year when the two-time Pro Bowler’s salary blows up to in excess of $11 million. It’s a steep drop-off after Barr, so keep your fingers crossed.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

Clinton-Dix once seemed like a longshot to fall to the Birds at No. 22, but recent mock drafts such as Mike Mayock’s for NFL.com see the Alabama safety’s stock dipping. The consensus All-American has the athleticism and versatility to excel in coverage or help out in run support. With Nate Allen and Earl Wolff set to compete for the starting job opposite Malcolm Jenkins, a little extra competition couldn’t hurt. It’s a no-brainer if Clinton-Dix is still on the board.

Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

The Jim Thorpe award winner for best defensive back in the nation, Dennard is another player who could fall for seemingly no reason at all other than this is a stacked draft. He’s got above average size and strength for the position, and plays with physicality. Cary Williams turns 30 and is owed $8 million in ’15, the final year of his deal, and Bradley Fletcher will be a free agent next year. Eagles really need to be wary of the future at corner, and can’t go wrong with the best defensive back in the nation.

Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

Fuller doesn’t possess the accolades of a prospect like Dennard, but he sounds like a perfect fit for the Eagles defense—good size, adequate speed, physical, plenty of experience in zone coverage. The thing that stood out to me is his versatility. Playing in a hybrid slot corner/linebacker role, Fuller racked up 14.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, two interceptions and nine pass breakups as a sophomore in 2011. The kid is a pure football player.

C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama

There may not be a safer, more complete prospect who could realistically fall to No. 22 than Mosley. The SEC Defensive Player of the Year is the total package—a sound tackler who is strong in both run support and coverage. DeMeco Ryans turns 30 this summer and is making $6.9 million per year on a contract that’s up after ’15. Mosley would have his job by next year.

Pete Mackanin says Odubel Herrera will stay in CF this season — but beyond?

Pete Mackanin says Odubel Herrera will stay in CF this season — but beyond?

A couple of weeks ago in Los Angeles, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said there was a chance he could look at Odubel Herrera in a corner outfield spot over the final weeks of the season.

Scrub that idea.

“Not this year,” Mackanin said Monday. “If we decide we're going to do that, we'll encourage him to play a corner in winter ball and then in spring training, if that's what we decide to do.

“I thought about doing that. But I don't know if we want to do that now. We’ll just let him get back on track offensively. I won't say it won't happen here or there. But we're not going to make that move right now.

“Let's try to keep his mind as uncluttered as possible right now. It looks a little cluttered.”

The Phillies have thought about moving Herrera to a corner spot because they have a top center field prospect in Roman Quinn. Also, Aaron Altherr is an excellent defender in center.

Quinn seemed to be on target for a call up after the Eastern League playoffs, but that could be in doubt now that he’s on the disabled list with a concussion.

Still, Quinn may be this club’s centerfielder of the future. And behind him is Mickey Moniak, this year’s top draft pick. He’s a ways away. But it’s worth wondering if the Phillies believe Herrera’s future is at a corner outfield spot. Or whether Herrera will be wintertime trade bait.

Mackanin was asked if he believed Herrera’s future would be in a corner spot.

“You know, I'd rather not really even comment on that,” he said. “I don't want him to think that we're not pleased with him. I just want to keep him confident the rest of the season.”

Herrera’s defense in center field has slipped this season.

“He was better last year defensively,” Mackanin said. “He's made a lot of mistakes this year. I think we've all seen that. But that doesn't mean he's not going to play center field anymore. There's another month left to see what happens.”

Herrera was the Phillies’ lone representative in the All-Star Game. He hit .294 with a .378 on-base percentage and a .427 slugging percentage before the All-Star break. Since then, however, he was hitting .252 with a .314 on-base percentage and a .378 slugging percentage entering play Monday night.

Mychal Kendricks may be only starter to play Thursday vs. Jets

Mychal Kendricks may be only starter to play Thursday vs. Jets

Nelson Agholor, a struggling second-year receiver who may or may not be a starter, likely won't play in the Eagles' preseason finale Thursday against the Jets.

Mychal Kendricks, a fifth-year linebacker who's been a regular starter since he was a rookie, likely will.

"There's a chance," head coach Doug Pederson said Monday. "There's a chance he plays because he hasn't played all preseason, and we still want to get him those live reps and get him ready for Cleveland."

Kendricks played Saturday against Indianapolis after missing the first two preseason games with a hamstring injury suffered in training camp earlier this month. He was still in the game in the fourth quarter, when the rest of the starters had exchanged their helmets for baseball caps.

"Why? Because he hasn't played," Pederson said. "He hasn't played and we just want to see him get game and live reps. That's the bottom line."

And just to be sure, Kendricks is still a starter?

"Oh, yeah. He's another one that we'd love to see again this Thursday night in a short role," Pederson said. "But at the same time he hasn't played all preseason. Stephen Tulloch's another one that we need to see play. So there's an opportunity for these two to get some more reps on Thursday."

Tulloch makes sense. He needs all the reps he can get. And he's also a backup. He should have no problem playing Thursday.

As for Kendricks ... he was not available to the media Monday.

Cornerback Aaron Grymes waived by Eagles

Cornerback Aaron Grymes waived by Eagles

Aaron Grymes was making a serious push to be on the Eagles' 53-man roster until the cornerback's right shoulder slammed into the ground at Heinz Field after an interception.

Grymes hasn't practiced or played since and the Eagles on Monday released the 25-year-old corner with the "waived/injured" designation. 

Before coming to the Eagles this spring, Grymes spent three successful seasons in the Canadian Football League and won a Grey Cup as an All-Star for the Edmonton Eskimos in 2015.

There seems to be a decent shot that the Eagles might want to put Grymes on their practice squad.

After the Pittsburgh game, when he had the interception and suffered the injury, Grymes was asked if he would prefer to be on a practice squad or head back to Canada, where he's already a proven star.

“I’ve thought about both of them," Grymes said on Aug. 18. "Both of them are great opportunities. I know that there are teams in Canada that are willing to bring me in and let me play. But then again, you can’t really compare it with this NFL dream I’ve had forever.

"To sign to a practice squad … injuries happen every day, and I think an opportunity could be there. It will be something I sit down with my wife and talk about, sit down with my agent and talk about. We’ll just make the best decision for us from there.”