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