Eagles Mailbag: Surprises at 14, starting CBs, John Ross

Eagles Mailbag: Surprises at 14, starting CBs, John Ross

We're still over a month from the NFL draft, but questions are coming in fast. 

We answered the first group of your questions -- including Dalvin Cook, drafting corners and backup quarterbacks -- here

But there are still plenty more to get through. Let's jump in: 

Yeah, there are a few: 

DE Derek Barnett: There are a few reasons we haven't heard too much about Barnett and the Eagles. For starters, he doesn't play corner or receiver. But it's also assumed the defensive end will already be off the board when the Eagles pick. There's a chance he isn't, though. If that happens, the Eagles could really use him. 

TE O.J. Howard: If the Eagles are serious about going best player available at 14, it could very well be Howard. No, they don't need another tight end, but Howard has the chance to be great. 

DE Taco Charlton: Fourteen is too high for him, folks say. But teams are always in desperate need of pass rushers, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him rise up draft boards. 

And there have been plenty of corners mocked to the Eagles, but here are two names I haven't seen too much: Quincy Wilson and Tre'Davious White. I don't think either guy is out of the question. 

I don't think there are any receivers possible that you haven't heard yet. The top three -- Mike Williams, Corey Davis and John Ross -- should all be in play. 

Yup. I think so. The deals to bring in Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith shouldn't prevent the Eagles from drafting wideouts. 

Ross can flat out play. He's more than just a fast 40 time. The concern with him is his injury history. Gotta be available to make an impact. The Eagles will have to really check into his medicals. 

Wait, there are positions outside of receiver and corner? I almost forgot. 

There are other needs. The Eagles really need pass-rush help and they can get a good player within the first three rounds. They should. 

Also, running back is a need. I'm not sure it will be Dalvin Cook at 14, but it would be an absolute shocker if they didn't draft one. 

And the Eagles have two good starting safeties in place, but it's a good year for safeties in addition to corners. They shouldn't shy away from taking one just because it's not an immediate need. 

People have seemingly forgotten about Ron Brooks. No, he wasn't great last year and he's been a career backup, but Jim Schwartz really likes him. Brooks has been healing from a significant leg injury, but if he's healthy, I think he sticks around. 

So my guess is Brooks and Jalen Mills on the outside. Then, on third downs (when the team is in nickel), Brooks will move inside and a rookie to be named later will come in to play outside. 

Yeah, it's possible, but I have a feeling he'll be gone. There are four running backs who could go in the first round this year, a real departure from the classic thinking about grabbing one later. (Though, I still kind of fall on that side of the line.)

I think a better bet in the second round is grabbing a corner, especially if the Eagles don't take one in the first round. Guys like Teez Tabor, Gareon Conley or Fabian Moreau could be there. 

No way. Rotating on the offensive line just isn't a good idea. It's way too important for those guys to get into a rhythm and learn how to play with the guys next to them. Pick the best five and go with it. 

Potential Eagles' targets for 14th pick eagerly await draft fates

Potential Eagles' targets for 14th pick eagerly await draft fates

Live draft coverage begins Thursday at 5 p.m. with Philly Sports Talk and continues until midnight on CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App.

Earlier this week, Western Michigan receiver Corey Davis sent Philadelphia Twitter into a frenzy with a couple taps of his thumb. 

Davis, after appearing on ESPN Monday, retweeted a fan's tweet — that read "Future Eagle" — to Trey Wingo. 

"Yeah, I did," Davis said with a chuckle on Wednesday morning at Shriners Hospital for Children at a day-before-the-draft charity event. 

"I did that by accident. That was an accident. I've got love for Philly, but it was an accident."


Of course, this retweet set off sirens in Philadelphia. "Book it! The Eagles are going to take Davis with the 14th pick!" Not so fast. 

While Davis, the record-setting wide receiver from Western Michigan, said the couple of button pushes were an accident, there are several other options for the Birds at 14. And plenty of them were in attendance on Wednesday morning. 

For his part, Davis wouldn't mind joining forces with Carson Wentz in Philadelphia. 

"He's a great player," Davis said. "He's a competitor and he kind of plays with a chip on his shoulder as well. I kind of like that about him. He's got a swagger about him as well."

Davis was one of 21 players at Shriners on Wednesday for a PLAY 60 event put on by the NFL. He was one of several in attendance who might be a fit for the Eagles when they're on the board at 14 on Thursday night. 

Just like Davis, Washington receiver John Ross, who broke the combine's 40-yard dash record by running a 4.22, also had a meeting with the Eagles in Philadelphia during the pre-draft process. Ross is known for his 40 time in Indianapolis, but he made sure to note he's more than a track star. 

"That 4.22 means so much to everybody else," he said. "It doesn’t mean that much to me."

Like most of the prospects on Wednesday, Ross hasn't spent too much time thinking about scenarios. He thinks his meeting with the Eagles went well, but don't ask him where he thinks he'll be drafted. 

Did the Eagles show more interest than other teams?

"I'm a horrible judge," said Ross, who has a lengthy injury history that could drop him in the first round. "I think they've all showed a lot of interest." 

For Haason Reddick, the event on North Broad Street, blocks from Temple's campus, had to feel like home. The former Owl is very likely going to be a first-round pick and has a chance to even make it into the top 10. 

Maybe Reddick wouldn't be the perfect fit in Philly at 14, but it could certainly happen. And that would be just fine for the Camden, N.J. native. 

"I think that'll be great, being a hometown guy, a guy that's familiar with Philadelphia, a guy that's played in the Linc," Reddick said. "If I'm on the board and Philly calls my name, I think that's the best-case scenario for the city to get somebody that they already know."

While the Eagles could use another linebacker, it's not as big a need as cornerback, a position where the Eagles are in desperate need. 

For a few weeks, it looked like Ohio State's Gareon Conley would be a perfect fit at 14, and he was supposed to be in Philly this week for the draft. But a rape allegation that surfaced on Tuesday kept Conley out of the city and might have him freefalling down draft boards. 

His Ohio State teammate and fellow cornerback Marshon Lattimore is in town, but there's a very strong chance he's off the board well before the Eagles pick. 

"[Conley is] going through it," Lattimore said. "I try to keep his spirits up, tell him that I got his back 100 percent. That's all I can say on that."

If the Eagles still decide to draft a CB in the first, maybe they could land on Tre'Davious White from LSU. While White has been an under-the-radar prospect in the last couple of months, his tape is impressive and his aggressiveness and versatility would fit well with the Eagles. 

"The people that really watch film and the people that really watch prospects, they know I'm one of the best, if not the best in this draft," he said. "It's just a matter of what team likes me the most. We'll see." 

White, like the others, visited the Eagles earlier in the process and would welcome the opportunity to play with fellow LSU products Jalen Mills and Ron Brooks in Philly. According to White, Mills was the guy who showed him the ropes early during his LSU career. In fact, White was preparing to go out to dinner at a restaurant of Mills' choosing on Wednesday night. 

If the Eagles don't go with a corner, a receiver or a linebacker, how about a pass-rusher? 

While the team brings back Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry, Jim Schwartz's defense is predicated on getting to the quarterback with the front four and the Eagles didn't do that nearly enough in 2016. 

Derek Barnett gets to the quarterback (see Didinger's final mock draft). In fact, he got to the quarterback so much at Tennessee, he broke Reggie White's school sack record. 

"My mindset going into a game was to be dominant," Barnett said. "If I'm dominant, everything will fall into place. I had that mindset when I came in as a freshman and before I knew it, I was breaking Reggie White's record. For my name to be in the same sentence as him, it's a blessing."

There seems to be a decent chance Barnett could continue to follow White's path to Philadelphia.  

Getting picked by Philadelphia, if nothing else, would at least save him a plane trip. 

"It would mean a lot. I would just have to drive up the street, not too far. A few blocks over," he said. "I'd already be at home."

2017 NFL draft positional breakdown: Wide receivers

2017 NFL draft positional breakdown: Wide receivers

We continue our positional breakdown leading up to the 2017 NFL draft with a look at wide receivers. Instead of a top five, we'll highlight players at these positions who fit the Eagles and have a chance to be available when the team picks.

We've already looked at running backs, linebackers, quarterbacks, offensive linemen, defensive ends, defensive tackles, defensive backs and tight ends.

At No. 14

Corey Davis, Western Michigan
Davis is one of the most prolific college receivers ever. He recorded more receiving yards than anyone in NCAA history (5,278). And he helped Western Michigan get ranked for the first time in the school's history.

Davis might be the most polished route runner ever to enter the NFL draft. His feet are so quick and he understands how to change speeds and beat coverage. He's big, he's strong and while he's not a burner, he has enough speed. If the Eagles go receiver with this pick, Davis would be the guy for me. I'd look to trade Jordan Matthews and line Davis up in the slot. With his strength and physical nature, he'd thrive.

Mike Williams, Clemson
Williams came back from a serious neck injury to have a monster redshirt junior season (98 catches, 1,361 yards). He shined in the National Championship Game against Alabama and highly-touted corner Marlon Humphrey.

Williams has size and his balls skills are by far the best in this draft. His route running has been the biggest knock and it's a fair criticism. He did, however, show flashes in college that he's capable of running better routes. Remember, this was a knock on Alshon Jeffery when he came out of South Carolina. Jeffery still isn't the greatest route runner, but if you throw the ball up to either of these guys, there's a good chance they're coming down with it. I love the idea of surrounding Carson Wentz -- with his propensity to miss throws high -- with a couple big targets.

John Ross
Speed, speed and more speed. Ross' reputation went to another level when he ran a blistering 4.22 40-yard dash at the combine. But Ross is more than just a burner. He caught 81 passes for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns during his redshirt junior season.

Ross isn't the type of receiver you just make run a bunch of nine routes. He's actually an excellent route runner and can do damage after the catch. The biggest issues with Ross will be his size and durability. He suffered a slew of injuries in high school and college. He was lit up early on in Washington's CFP game against Alabama and was a non-factor in his biggest game of the season.

In the middle

Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech
Henderson had a breakout junior season, putting up 82 catches for 1,535 yards and 19(!) touchdowns. He also took three kick returns to the house in his college career. He was the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year in 2016.

The biggest concern with Henderson will be his lack of competition, but he was almost impossible to tackle on his level. He rightfully dominated. He also showed traits that should translate to the NFL like his ability to track the football and his quickness in and out of his breaks.

K.D. Cannon, Baylor
Cannon is another explosive receiver. Cannon had an outstanding college career which culminated in him leading the Big 12 in receptions this season (87). He averaged 16 yards a catch and scored 27 receiving touchdowns.

Cannon ran a 4.41 40 and would add some much needed speed to the Eagles' receiving corps. He also did well after the catch, running a lot of bubble screens and quick hitters in Baylor's spread, up-tempo offense.

Late-round sleeper(s)

Chad Williams, Grambling State
Williams may not have gotten national notoriety playing for Grambling State, but he put up serious numbers (90 catches for 1,337 yards and 11 touchdowns) during his senior season.

Williams impressed at the Senior Bowl and also showed a little bit of a mean streak. He's a small school receiver with a chip on his shoulder. He's not particularly big or a great route runner, but he ran a 4.43 40 and you know he'll compete every day.