NFL Draft: Saturday's prospect watch

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NFL Draft: Saturday's prospect watch

If you're an Eagles fan looking toward the 2012 draft, here are players to watch on Saturday:
Brandon Boykin, CBKR Georgia, No. 2

Auburn vs. Georgia (CBS, 3:30 p.m.)

With Asante Samuel grumbling and Dominique Rodgers-Cromarties subpar showing, the Eagles might be in the market for a CB come April. Boykin is a pure athlete that has the speed to play on the outside and quickness to play in the slot. His size isn't ideal (5-9, 181) and he gets nicked up often, but he has no fear and plays physical football. Boykin would also bring some much needed pep to a very moribund return game. He is extremely dangerous returning kicks, and would probably contribute more readily there early on in his career.

Marvin McNutt, WR Iowa, No. 7

Michigan State vs. Iowa (ESPN2, 12 p.m.)

Who knows what the Eagles are going to do with DeSean Jackson and his expiring contract, but if they do indeed let D-Jax hit the open market, receiving depth will need to be found. McNutt is a big receiver (6-3, 215), who can jump out of the building. Pair that leaping ability with soft hands and you've got the makings of a dangerous red zone target. McNutt has 57 catches for 959 yards and nine scores this season, and is coming into Saturday with three consecutive 100-yard receiving games. McNutt's lack of breakaway speed hurts his stock, but he should be off the boards by the middle of the third round.

T.J. McDonald, S USC, No. 7

Washington vs. USC (FX, 3:30 p.m.)

Nate Allen in 2009. Jaiqwuan Jarrett in 2010. The Eagles have been trying to find solid safety play in the early rounds since Brian Dawkins left two seasons ago. Well, the jury is still out as Allen can't stay healthy and Jarrett just got on the field for the first time last week. McDonald is more talented than both. He's an outstanding athlete and looks just as comfortable playing the deep ball as he does inside the box. McDonald has great size (6-3, 205) and bloodlines (his dad was former Pro Bowl safety Tim McDonald), and if the junior decides to come out, he'll be a surefire first-round pick. If the Eagles continue to play the way they have been, they may have a shot at him in the middle of the round.

Tech's Wilson is the real deal
Watched Virginia Tech RB David Wilson Thursday night and came away impressed again as he piled up 175 yards on 23 carries against Georgia Tech. Wilson cuts back as well as any back I've seen this year and just explodes up the field. I don't think his moves in the open field are quite like Shady McCoy's, but Wilson's the closest I've seen in college ball this season. The one thing he doesn't do though and maybe it's just the Tech offense is catch the ball. Wilson has only 16 catches this season.

Mike Mayock: Eagles should weigh Gareon Conley vs. offense at 14

Mike Mayock: Eagles should weigh Gareon Conley vs. offense at 14

The Eagles need cornerbacks. Plural. 

It's not a secret that the team's biggest weakness heading into next week's draft is at the cornerback position. So it would stand to reason that their best bet might be to simply take the best one off the board when they're on the clock at 14.

But NFL Network's Mike Mayock, on his annual pre-draft conference call marathon extravaganza Friday, said he thinks they should take a different approach. 

Looking at the top corners in the draft, Mayock is convinced Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore will be off the board well before the Eagles are on the clock at 14. His next rated corner is Gareon Conley. After that, Mayock has Marlon Humphrey but pointed out his major flaw of struggling to find the football in the air. 

So if Conley makes it to 14, the Eagles should pick him, right? 

Not so fast. 

"So I look at it this way, if Conley's on the board at 14, you have to compare him to the best playmaker on offense on your board," Mayock said. "Because I'm not convinced the Eagles should go defense, to be honest with you. 

"If Conley's not there, I think you want to go get your corner in the second or third round and I think they need two corners. But my perspective is, you drafted Carson Wentz. You better support him. You signed two wideouts in free agency (Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith) who are both effectively one-year contracts. Your slot receiver, (Jordan) Matthews is in the final year of his deal. (Brent) Celek, the tight end, is 32 years old. 

"So you might sit there and go, 'This year looks OK,' but get a running back. Get a (Christian) McCaffrey or a Dalvin Cook. Get a tight end, O.J. Howard. Get weapons. Get one of those wideouts you like. So I would be comparing Conley to the highest playmaker you have on the board offensively. And I might be leaning towards offense if it was me." 

Zach Ertz hopes he and Carson Wentz can be NFL's next great duo

Zach Ertz hopes he and Carson Wentz can be NFL's next great duo

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham. Cam Newton and Greg Olsen. 

When Zach Ertz looks at the recent history of great quarterback-tight end duos in the NFL, he can't help but notice one thing stands out. 

"Those guys have been together for a long time," Ertz said Thursday afternoon. 

Brady and Gronk have been together for seven seasons. Cam and Olsen have been together for six. And Brees and Graham were together for five. 

"And I think just having that, where you're on the same page regardless of the coverage," Ertz continued. "If they give you this coverage, you know exactly what you're going to do. If they give you that coverage, he knows exactly what I'm going to do. When to expect the ball vs. certain coverages, it might be a little earlier, it might be a little later. So it's just that constant camaraderie where we're able to know what the other person is thinking without thinking about it."

Ertz hopes that's the kind of relationship he can forge with Carson Wentz, who will enter his second NFL season in 2017. 

Ertz and Wentz spend a lot of time together in the facility and away from it. A group of Eagles went to Ertz's wedding earlier this offseason, and of course, Wentz was present. If it seems like Ertz is going to great lengths to build a rapport with his quarterback, he is. 

After going through Mike Vick and Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford, the Eagles' starting tight end finally has a quarterback that isn't going anywhere for a while.  

"It's going to be huge," Ertz said about playing with Wentz for a second straight year. "I think when Carson was drafted, from the receivers and tight ends, that was the one thing we were really excited about. That we knew for the next five, 10, 20 years, hopefully, in Philadelphia, we knew who our quarterback was going to be."

Since he was drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft out of Stanford, Ertz has been an extremely productive player. But that has set up huge expectations as fans wait for a "breakout year." Zach Ertz might never be Rob Gronkowski, but the numbers are hard to argue. 

In the first four years of his career, Ertz has 247 catches for 2,840 yards and 13 touchdowns. Since 2013, here's the list of tight ends who have more catches and yards than Ertz: Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten, Delanie Walker, Antonio Gates. 

Ertz and Jeremy Maclin are the only two players in Eagles history to put up those numbers in their first four seasons. 

The argument often heard about Ertz's numbers is that they come in garbage time. Ertz has historically been an absolute beast in December. In the last few years, that hasn't meant much to a struggling Eagles franchise, but if they're in the playoff hunt in upcoming years, they'll probably want that trend to continue. 

The one statistic that doesn't seem to match the others: touchdowns. While Ertz has been among top tight ends in the league in receptions and yards, his 13 touchdowns rank 17th among tight ends since 2013. (It's not a stat, but for what it's worth, Ertz would likely be among the league leaders in touchdowns called back for penalties in the last few years.)

"I want to be the guy in the red zone, believe me," Ertz said. "For the first four years in my career, I think the most touchdowns I had in a year was four. So this year, we didn't have a lot of red zone touchdowns and that falls on us as players to get it down when we get down there, make plays when the ball's in the air. That's something I do pride myself on, making those tough and contested catches, whether it be in the red zone or third down. I want to be more of a go-to guy in the red zone, but I've got to earn that this spring and summer, earn that trust of the quarterback as well as Doug (Pederson). It's going to be a process, but when you look at the great tight ends in the league, the first thing that stands out is touchdowns."