Dalvin Cook set to meet with Eagles: Is he a 1st-round option?

Dalvin Cook set to meet with Eagles: Is he a 1st-round option?

INDIANAPOLIS -- We won't know how fast Dalvin Cook will run the 40-yard dash until Friday (Update: He ran a 4.49). But on Thursday afternoon, he certainly didn't waste any time.

The Florida State product is one of the top running backs in a draft class full of good ones.

In fact, he thinks he's the best.

"We got the top guys in this class at running back," Cook said, answering the first question thrown his way at the combine. "It's probably one of the best you've seen yet. I think what separates me, I can do it all. I can stay on the field all three downs. I'm just a do-it-all back. And I just feel like I am the best back in this class."

We won't know for years if Cook is right about being the best running back in this year's class, but we will find out what teams think on April 27 when picks start getting announced in Philly.

The Eagles will have either the 14th or 15th pick in the draft (a coin flip will decide). Depending on how the draft shakes out, Cook, who has been the desired pick for many Eagles fans, could be a real option.  

After stepping down from the podium on Thursday afternoon, Cook said he had a meeting set up with the Eagles on Thursday night. Meanwhile, LSU's Leonard Fournette said he hadn't yet met with the Eagles and Tennessee's Alvin Kamara said he had.

For now, Fournette is forecasted to go earlier in the first round and be the first back taken off the board. If that happens, he won't be available. And Kamara might sneak into the first round but might be a stretch at 14 or 15. Same with Christian McCaffrey.

Cook might go off the board around where the Eagles pick.

But will the Eagles pick him?

It's hard to tell. Last season, while the Eagles still had the eighth pick, de facto general manager Howie Roseman didn't discount the possibility of taking Ezekiel Elliott in that spot. Since then, Roseman has acknowledged that everything he said back then in regard to the draft was nonsense; they were just trying to move up to snag Carson Wentz.

While the Eagles moved up and drafted Wentz, the Cowboys took Elliott off the board at No. 4, put him behind a great offensive line, paired him with another electric rookie and watched him blossom into arguably the league's top back.

Cook thinks he can have similar success.

"It goes to show if a running back gets put in the right system and put in the right place, he can do a good amount of things for a team," Cook said. "I feel like if I get put in the right system, I can do the things Zeke did."

While the Eagles' needs at wide receiver and cornerback have been more publicized -- and probably for good reason -- they need some help at running back, too.

Ryan Mathews is coming off a serious neck injury and will likely not return to Philly. Kenjon Barner is a restricted free agent. Darren Sproles will play his final season in 2017 and Wendell Smallwood showed promise, but not enough to feel confident with him carrying the load.

The good news for the Eagles is that this is a really good draft class for running backs. Maybe better than ever.

"Certainly when you look at the running back position," Roseman said, "we think it's a possible historic class with how many guys and where they would have gone in previous drafts."

Even if the Eagles don't use their first-round pick on a running back and even if they don't take one of the top prospects in the class, it seems rather likely they'll snag one at some point during the seven rounds.

Players like D'Onta Foreman, Kareem Hunt, Jamaal Williams, Corey Clement and plenty of others could be options after the first round.  

And, yes, Cook is still in play in the first. After all, he's pretty fast on the field as well as at the podium.

What will his 40 time look like on Friday?

"I'm gonna run something fast," he said with a smile.

Eagles stay away from taking controversial RB Joe Mixon

Eagles stay away from taking controversial RB Joe Mixon

After spending the first day of the draft commending Derek Barnett's character and stressing the importance of character in their players, it would have been quite a departure to draft Joe Mixon in the second around.

They passed.

Mixon, the talented running back from Oklahoma who once punched a woman and broke her jaw, was available when the Eagles took corner Sidney Jones at pick No. 43.

The Bengals took him five spots later.

Was Mixon on the Eagles' draft board? Reports surfaced both ways in the weeks leading up to the start of the draft. On Friday, Eagles VP of football operations Howie Roseman wouldn't say one way or the other on Friday, but feel free to read between the lines.

"Yeah, I don't know that we necessarily want to get into each particular player, whether they were on our board or not," Roseman said. "We have very specific guidelines for guys that we're going to select or not; we made those decisions a long time ago. I know there have been a lot of reports, and I don't know where a lot of them have come from. But we make the decisions based on the people that we want to bring into this building and the criteria we put forth."

Last year, the Eagles took three players on Day 3 with some character concerns. With those picks they found some value. But obviously, that situation was much different than Mixon.

And throughout the process, the Eagles have said they judge every player on a case-by-case basis.

“I heard a great story in that year away and when you have young players who are some of the leaders of your football team, you want to surround them with guys who have the same personality," Roseman said to CSNPhilly, "and for us it’s very important who we bring into this building and what the deal-breaker is for us, and we took that approach into the draft."

Roseman, Eagles 'try something different' with back-to-back CBs in draft

Roseman, Eagles 'try something different' with back-to-back CBs in draft

If you're not sure how you feel about the Eagles' draft, ask yourself how things went for the franchise when they kept signing veteran free agent cornerbacks.

Hint: Nnamdi. Ellis Hobbs. Bradley Fletcher. Cary Williams. Nolan Carroll. Leodis McKelvin.

The Eagles haven't won a playoff game since 2002 draft picks Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown left town -- Sheppard after the 2008 season, Brown after the 2009 season.

And it's pretty clear the Eagles' philosophy of essentially ignoring cornerback in the top rounds of the draft and patching with free agents has been a colossal failure.

"We’ve got to try something different," Howie Roseman said Friday night.

Enter Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas, who the Eagles hope become this generation's Lito and Sheldon.

The Eagles drafted Sheppard and Brown in the first and second rounds in 2002, and they combined to play 221 games in an Eagles uniform, reaching the playoffs in five of the seven years they were together.

On Friday, the Eagles picked Jones in the second round and Douglas in the third. 

In the span of four hours, the Eagles matched the number of cornerbacks they drafted in the first three rounds in the previous 14 drafts. They took Curtis Marsh in the third round in 2011 and Eric Rowe in the second round 2015.

Carroll and McKelvin, last year's starting corners, are long gone, and the position is now manned by three kids -- 23-year-old Jalen Mills, who played in 16 games last year, starting two; 20-year-old Jones, who is still rehabbing after his March Achilles injury; and 21-year-old New Jersey native Douglas, who led NCAA Division 1 with eight interceptions a year ago.

The Eagles have never had three cornerbacks this young on the roster at the same time.

The closest was in 2004, when Sheppard and Dexter Wynn were 23 and Matt Ware was 22.

“Extremely competitive guys, and I think when you talk about a guy like Jalen Mills, he’s got a lot of the same personality traits as these guys do," Roseman said.

"He doesn’t want to back off anyone. He thinks he can cover any receiver in the National Football League, and you love to have that approach. He played at LSU, in the SEC, against top-level competition.

"And when you talk about all these guys, they bring this competitiveness, the instincts, this feel for the game that we’re looking for.

"We want to build a defense and build a team that can stick together over a period of time and hopefully this is a first step toward doing that."

The wild card is Jones, who likely would have been a top-10 pick if he hadn't ruptured his Achilles at the end of his pro day workout six weeks ago.

Roseman concedes that there's a risk in selecting Jones, but based on all the medical reports the Eagles have, he believes it's a risk well worth taking.

And he makes a great point when he says the Eagles' chances of obtaining an elite corner are better taking an injured Jones at No. 43 than anybody else.

"He’s not there if he’s 100 percent healthy," Roseman said. "Extremely talented guy. Right up there with the top players in this draft class. Tremendous character, tremendous skill set.

“It’s interesting. When you’re talking about picking a guy in the second round and you start getting into percentages. What percent of guys with the 43rd pick become starers? So is anything 100 percent there? No.

"There’s certainly a chance you’re not getting the exact same player. But the percentages we got from our doctor were extremely high, and then when we figure out Sidney’s chances of being a good players when he’s healthy they’re higher than anyone else you could get at that spot. …

"Sometimes you feel so good about the player you feel like it’s a chance worth taking. For where we are to potentially get a No. 1 cornerback in the National Football League? We just felt like it was worth the risk for our football team."

Jones is expected to begin the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, but the Eagles hope to have him on the field at some point during the season and expect him to be 100 percent or very close for the start of 2018.

He'll still only be 21 years old.

"We spent a lot of time with him and with his medical reports with our medical team, led by (team physician) Dr. (Peter) DeLuca and (trainer) Chris Peruzzi, and obviously he’s got a long way to go, it’s an Achilles injury.

"But we feel comfortable at this time with the research we did and we’re going to do everything we can to get him back to when he was the Sidney Jones we saw play in college football and was one of the best players in college football."

The Eagles haven't had an above-average pass defense since 2008, the last time the franchise won in the postseason.

Since 2009, they've allowed the most passing touchdowns in the NFL -- 234 of them. That's 10 more than any other team. Last year, they allowed a franchise-record 27 pass plays of 30 yards or more, second-most in the NFL (one fewer than the Raiders).

Like Howie said, it was time to try something different, and that process began this weekend with the addition of defensive end Derek Barnett, whose pass pressure will presumably help the secondary, and two highly regarded young cornerbacks.

Jones and Douglas are different types of corners. Jones, when healthy, will cover the faster deep threats and Douglas will generally be assigned to the bigger wideouts.

"They have complementary skill sets," Roseman said. "And when you talk about the receivers in our division, in our conference, (you want) guys who can cover the quicker twitch receivers, and the guys who can take the big strong receivers that we face.

"Both those guys can make plays on the ball, and (defensive coordinator) Jim Schwartz is looking for competitive guys who can make plays on the ball, and that's important to get the ball back to our offense."