Should Eagles take a top-3 WR in the first round?

Should Eagles take a top-3 WR in the first round?

As the Eagles fly to Indianapolis this week for the annual NFL combine, they'll do so with two needs that seem to outweigh all others. 

The Eagles need big-play makers and big-play stoppers. Receivers and cornerbacks.

Still well over a week away from the start of free agency, this could change some. The Eagles could hit the market and try to sign a player or two to shore up those positions. But even if they do, it's likely receiver and corner will still need to be upgraded when they're on the clock at 14 or 15 in late April. 

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock held his annual marathon conference call with reporters from around the country on Monday afternoon, about two months from the start of the 2017 draft. The highly-respected draft analyst said this year's draft is "one of the best defensive drafts I’ve seen."

That's high praise from someone who has been doing this a long time. And he didn't stop there. Mayock continued to praise both edge rusher and, wait for it, cornerbacks. 

"I can get through four rounds of quality corners and I've never been able to say that before," he said. 

That seems like awful good news for the Eagles (see storylines).

While this draft is really deep at corner, Mayock said it's not so deep at receiver. So when asked about what his plan would be, given that the Eagles are in desperate need of both positions, Mayock said the Eagles should seriously consider a top receiver for their first round pick. 

"I think the Eagles have to figure out what their order of preference is, what kind of style they want," Mayock said. "But they've got to be looking hard at all three of those guys and know up front if one or two or all three of them are available, who they're going to take. And then I think they can drop back in a later round and it wouldn't bother me at all if they drafted a couple corners. I think they could."

This seems like a pretty solid plan. Snag one of the top receivers, then pick up value in the second round (and later rounds) by adding cornerbacks who would have gone much higher in a more ordinary year for that position. 

But last month in Mobile, Alabama, for the Senior Bowl, Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman brought up a thought-provoking point about the depth of cornerbacks in this year's draft. 

"It's interesting, because last year we sat there and said defensive tackles in this draft are unreal," Roseman said in January. "You're going to get an opportunity to be there in the fourth or fifth round and there's going to be a second- or- third-round guy. And what happened was they all went. And we had looked at it before and in years where there's positions of strength, when you think you can get guys later, what typically happens is there's a run on those guys and [teams] want to get their own guys. So you just have to be careful that you're not sitting there going, 'This is a great draft at position X and we'll be sitting there in the sixth round and we'll get a great guy.' That's why just sticking to your board and not getting cute and just making sure you just get the best player for the Philadelphia Eagles."

So maybe the Eagles won't get cute. Perhaps when they pick at 14 or 15, they'll have a corner ranked high enough to say, "To heck with value, let's take our guy." Now, maybe that wouldn't create the best value overall, but if it gets the best player, it's unlikely Eagles fans will care. And they shouldn't. 

But what if one of the top three receivers is on the board and is their highest ranked player? Mayock seems to think they should pull the trigger. The top three, according to him, are Western Michigan's Corey Davis, Clemson's Mike Williams and Washington's John Ross. Mayock said he could see all three going from picks 10-20. 

While Ross has some medical concerns, Mayock seemed really intrigued about the idea of the Eagles' taking him. He compared Ross to Will Fuller, whom the Texans took at No. 21 out of Notre Dame last year. In fact, he said he expects Ross to run just as fast as Fuller (4.32), but is quicker and a better natural catcher. 

"He's probably the best vertical threat in the draft and I think that would help the rest of the Eagles underneath," he said. "They desperately need speed. So if you're talking about a guy that's going to run a 4.35, which I think he will."

Or how about Williams from Clemson? On his way to a national title, Williams impressed on the biggest stage and could become a huge target for Carson Wentz and the Eagles. 

"He's a big, physical dude," Mayock said. "I think he welcomes press coverage. He uses his physicality, he catches back shoulder. And again, if you're looking from an Eagles perspective, scoring and red-zone opportunities, he's probably the best guy at the wide receiver position in this draft in the red zone because of his catching radius and his physicality."

And then there's still Davis, whom Mayock ranks as the best receiver in the draft. Davis won’t be able to compete at the combine with an ankle injury, but he's still a first-rounder. 

Based on the evaluations given by Mayock on Monday, it seems like any three of these receivers could come in and make an immediate impact with the Eagles on Day 1. That isn’t always the case with receivers. 

In January, Roseman talked about how the great receiver draft of 2014 had really altered expectations for rookies, saying in the past receiver hasn't been a "plug and play" position. Some ran with those comments and took them to mean that the Eagles would try to fill the receiver hole through free agency. 

And, besides, the Eagles were burnt by a first-round receiver not too long ago, when they took Nelson Agholor with the 20th pick in the 2015 draft. In his two seasons, Agholor has been a disappointment in the NFL. 

Still, that miss wouldn't make Mayock hesitate this year. If Davis, Williams or Ross are there, one of them could be the Eagles' pick. 

"I struggle thinking that the three of them (top receivers) will struggle like Nelson Agholor did, who was also a first-round pick," he said. "I think they're going to be fine."

Roob's 25 Random Points: Christian McCaffrey, Jonathan Rado, Dylan Ennis & more

Roob's 25 Random Points: Christian McCaffrey, Jonathan Rado, Dylan Ennis & more

Christian McCaffrey, Ellis Hobbs, Roosevelt Boulevard, Strand of Oaks, Jordan Hicks, Jonathan Rado, Silvio Dante, Dylan Ennis, Fairmount Park, Baker Dunleavy and high-speed rail.

There's nothing more random than an offseason version of 25 random points! This one is even more all over the place than usual!

1. I have to say I'm intrigued by McCaffrey and the possibilities he presents. Especially in this offense. Are there risks drafting a slightly undersized running back in the first round? No question. But there are risks drafting any of these guys. As a rule, I just don't like first-round running backs. The shelf life of the average running back is so short these days. Backs take such a beating and incur so many injuries and are generally done somewhere around 27 or 28 years old. So to take one in the first round, you really better have a high level of confidence that this is the guy. It's so rare for running backs to produce consistently, year after year, and that's what you need from a first-round pick.

Of the last 17 running backs taken in the first round, none have ever had consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Which just speaks to how problematic this is. You might get a huge year followed by an injured year followed by an inconsistent year followed by a decent comeback year and then next thing you know the guy is out of the league or even worse, playing for the Browns. Guys like Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson are exceptions.

Look at the Eagles. Wilbert Montgomery was a sixth-round pick. Brian Westbrook a third-round pick. LeSean McCoy was a second-round pick. You can find running backs outside the first round. But there's the flip side. McCaffrey's running and receiving ability would fit so well in this offense. And while he'll never be a 20-carry a game guy, he doesn't need to be to make this pick work. Look at Westbrook. From 2004 through 2008, Westbrook was a machine. He led the NFC in yards from scrimmage during that five-year period and was second in the entire NFL behind LaDainian Tomlinson. During that five-year span, Westbrook averaged 15.7 carries per game and 5.6 receptions per game but we all know what kind of impact he had.

If you're careful and don't overuse him, you at least have a chance to keep a running back healthy for a prolonged period of time. And from what we've seen so far, there isn't much of a chance Doug Pederson will ever overuse a running back.

All that said, my No. 1 target is still Corey Davis, and I'd be thrilled with Mike Williams or one of the top corners. And who knows, maybe Dalvin Cook winds up being the best tailback in the bunch. Still, McCaffrey is intriguing just because he's such a talented runner and receiver, and I'd love to see what he could do in an Eagles uniform. If the Eagles do select him, you won't hear me complaining.

2. Looking back at Villanova's season, I feel like the Wildcats never quite figured out how to play without a big contribution from Kris Jenkins. It's a lot to ask a team that's been playing a certain way all year and really for a few years to suddenly play a different way, but Jenkins' mysterious late-season shooting slump was so drastic it got to the point where he went from being a unanimous All-Big East first-team preseason pick to shooting just 24 percent from three-point range over the last six weeks of the season.

All of a sudden, Jay Wright had to find a way to win without one of the best three-point shooters in the program's history. And with Mikal Bridges struggling down the stretch -- after averaging 10.6 points in the regular season, he averaged just 4.6 in the postseason -- and Jalen Brunson struggling from deep late in the season -- 45 percent through mid-January, 29 percent since -- Villanova's scoring options were reduced really to Josh Hart, Donte DiVincenzo and Brunson attacking the rim. That made Villanova so much easier to defend. As gifted as Hart is, he can't carry a team through an NCAA Tournament. Eric Paschall did come along on both ends of the court late in the season, but it wasn't enough.

Wright spoke bluntly about all this in the hallway at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York, after the loss to Wisconsin: "I thought we were starting to get a little bit of an answer to that with Donte starting to come on and Eric starting to come on. Maybe we needed one more game."

3. I found myself rooting against Lonzo Ball the other night when UCLA lost to Kentucky. But you know what? The kid has really done nothing wrong except pick the wrong father. His dad, LaVar, is an arrogant loudmouth jerk, but that's not Lonzo's fault. He seems like a good kid. But thanks to his dad, he's going to find that everybody is rooting against him as he tries to establish an NBA career. Good parenting right there.

4. I don't think Brunson is ready for the NBA, but I still wouldn't be surprised if he leaves. Brunson is a really gifted college point guard, but he doesn't have the quickness or explosion that most NBA point guards have, his shooting is spotty and his size could really be a defensive liability. Brunson is extremely smart and a terrific finisher around the rim. He's a tremendous leader, a calm presence on the court and has a real knack for hitting bit shots at big moments. But an NBA guard? I don't see it. Not yet.

5. One other thing about Villanova: Last year, the Wildcats got progressively better shooting the three as the year went on to the point in which they were shooting at a historic level by the NCAA Tournament. This year was the opposite. They just got worse and worse. Check out the numbers: Last year, Villanova was shooting 33 percent from three after 27 games -- 271st in Division I. The last 13 games, the Wildcats shot 45 percent from three -- eighth best in the country. This year, Villanova was shooting 39 percent from three after 20 games, 38th best of 351 NCAA Division I teams. The last 15 games, the Wildcats shot 34 percent from three, which ranked 214th out of 351. Without a true post presence, this team was so dependent on hitting threes. When they didn't fall, things got very tough for 'Nova.

6. I hate when the singer doesn't introduce the band.

7. I just laugh when people say no way the Eagles can go into 2017 with two rookie cornerbacks. OK … why not? Because things have gone so well when they've signed free agents? Like Nnamdi Asomugha, Byron Maxwell, Hobbs, Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin? I'd rather draft a couple promising kids, live with their mistakes and develop them into a formidable pair than continue patching with disinterested and overpriced veterans. Make this another Lito/Sheldon draft.

8. I don't usually get all bothered by this stuff, but that picture of Devin Booker and his teammates giddily celebrating Booker's 70-point game for Phoenix against the Celtics in Boston on Friday really irked me. Hey, Devin … you lost. I don't care how many points you scored -- or how many yards you had or how many home runs you hit or how many goals you scored. You don't celebrate after a loss. Bad look.

9. When NC State upset Villanova in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, the Villanova guard who missed the potential game-winning jumper at the buzzer was Ennis. After the season and graduating from Villanova, Ennis transferred to Oregon to use his final year of eligibility as a graduate student. However, he missed the majority of last season because of injury and was then granted another year by the NCAA. After starting his career at Rice in 2011, Ennis is now a sixth-year senior at Oregon. And in the Final Four. Super kid who's been through a lot of ups and downs. If you're looking for somebody to root for in the Final Four, root for Dylan Ennis.

10. Up for a challenge? Try getting onto Roosevelt Boulevard north-bound off Woodhaven Road west-bound at rush hour and maneuvering across all six lanes of traffic in time to get into the left-turn lane for Old Lincoln Drive. It's about 8/10ths of a mile. It's hard enough but then factor in the fact that nobody heading north on the Boulevard is super interested in letting you cross over and it becomes one of Philly's great driving challenges. This is as close as you can get to the old Mulsanne Straight at 24 Hours of LeMans. Definitely the high point of my daily commute.

11. Why do I get more excited when a Rutles song comes on the radio than a Beatles song?

12. I hope everybody who lives in Philly appreciates Fairmount Park.

Here's a park that stretches from Logan Circle up along the Schuylkill River, encompasses the Zoo through Belmont Plateau and on almost to City Line Avenue on the west side of the river and the Art Museum up through Strawberry Mansion on the east side of the river. Then the entire park narrows to a few dozen feet wide at the bottom of Ridge Pike in East Falls, before expanding into a massive northern section that runs up through Germantown, Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill on the east and Manyunk and Roxborough on the west. The whole thing finally ends at Northwestern Avenue on the border of Whitemarsh Township near Lafayette Hill.

At 9,200 acres -- more than 10 times larger than Central Park in Manhattan -- Fairmount Park is the world's largest landscaped park. It contains endless miles of bike trails and jogging trails not to mention a zoo, a skatepark, two music venues, a historic restaurant originally built in 1850 and so much more. It's ours and it's free and it's the best.

13. Way too often, "Here's my mock draft," means, "Here's a composite of 12 other mock drafts that I looked at to come up with mine." Come on, you know it's true. The sad thing is the 12 people that put together those original mock drafts probably did the same thing. So you have this endless cycle of mock drafts based solely on other mock drafts. I'm not saying everybody does 'em that way, but a lot of people do. People love mock drafts and they can be fun to look at. But there's a reason they're always wrong.

14. Spoon or Wilco?

15. Eagles owner Jeff Lurie is scheduled to meet with the media at the NFL owners meetings in Arizona on Tuesday evening, and it will be the first time he speaks in a year. Since last year's owners meetings. Lurie isn't required to speak more than once a year, but he should. I think he owes it to the fans to make himself accessible at least every few months. When Lurie first bought the Eagles, he was in the locker room and available to the media after every game, in addition to a state-of-the-franchise address every summer at Lehigh and a year-end interview as well. He gradually reduced his availability to two or three times a year and since ending his state-of-the-team chats a few years ago, he's been down to once a year, with exceptions made when he hires or fires a head coach.

I think Lurie is a good owner who wants to win and has been good for the franchise's overall health over the last couple decades. But there needs to be more accountability. Lurie's franchise hasn't won a Super Bowl in the 22 years since he bought it, hasn't won a playoff game in eight years and hasn't been to the playoffs the last three years. There are a lot of questions, and once a year is just not even close to enough time to answer them all.

16. I kind of like this Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (more on him here).

17. We're a quarter of the way through the year, so here are my top 25 live shows so far: 1. Mondo Cozmo, 2. Strand of Oaks, 3. Grandaddy, 4. Hamilton Leithauser,  5. Illinois, 6. Harmony Woods, 7. Mercury Girls, 8. Sheer Mag, 9. Foxygen, 10. Death by Unga Bunga, 11. Parquet Courts, 12. Eskimeaux, 13. LVL UP, 14. Hurry, 15. Hemming, 16. Archawah, 17. Slaughter Beach, Dog, 18. Chris Farren, 19. Superweaks, 20. Katie Ellen, 21. Hurry, 22. Ron Gallo, 23. The Lame-O's, 24. Thin Lips, 25. Smithereens.

18. To put the start of Hicks' career in perspective, consider this: Hicks has seven interceptions in his first 24 NFL games. As a linebacker. Only two cornerbacks in Eagles history have had more INTs in their first 24 career games. Herm Edwards had 11 and Eric Allen had nine. Among all active players, only Marcus Peters, Jairus Byrd, Aqub Talib, Marcus Williams and Brandon Browner -- all DBs, of course -- had more INTs in their first 24 games. The last Pro Bowl linebacker the Eagles drafted was Jeremiah Trotter, some 17 years ago. If Hicks keeps doing what he's been doing, that drought will be ending soon.

19. Rado is the closest thing we've got to a young Todd Rundgren. Rado, co-leader of L.A. glam pop band Foxygen, is a brilliant musician whether he's playing keys or guitar, an inventive writer and arranger and an in-demand producer (Whitney, Lemon Twigs). And if you've ever heard the track "How Can You Really," which Foxygen closed with at Union Transfer on Sunday night, you know Rado is a huge Rundgren fan. It's basically a long-lost Rundgren track circa Back to the Bars. I'm pretty sure Rado is a genius, and I can't wait to see where his career goes from here.

20. The Las Vegas Raiders. It's just wrong. The Raiders belong in Oakland.

21. Steven Van Zandt -- aka Miami Steve -- is such a fascinating guy. What a career he's had. He grew up in Central Jersey playing in various cover bands at the shore in the 1960s. Met Springsteen when he was 16. Officially became a full-time member of the the E Street Band when he was 25. Wrote the main guitar riff in "Born to Run." Arranged the horns on Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out. Co-produced the River and Born in the USA. Co-founded Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and wrote their biggest hits, including "I Don't Want to Go Home." Landed a starring role as Silvio Dante on the Sopranos despite having zero acting experience beyond a couple plays as a teenager at Middletown High. Started a foundation -- Rock and Roll Forever -- that raises money to support music programs in public schools. Launched a record label, Wicked Cool Records. Started up a garage rock radio station on SiriusXM.

But you know what I like best about Miami Steve? He is pretty much the best storyteller ever. When he's hosting on the Underground Garage on SiriusXM, Steve tells these long, elaborate, exquisitely detailed, incredibly researched stories that are generally but not always related in some way to the music he's playing and often cover American history and pop culture from the 1940s through the 1970s. The topics are all over the place -- Chicago gangs of the 1940s, Frank Sinatra's film career, how the Monkees' original lineup was put together -- but no matter what the topic, they are engaging, funny, informative and absolutely impossible to turn off.

22. My Phillies prediction: 79-83.

23. When I'm running the world, we're going to build a true high-speed rail system across the U.S. I'm thinking stops in Boston, New York, Philly, Washington, Columbus, St. Louis, Kansas City, Denver, Phoenix and Los Angeles. The fastest commercial trains in Europe travel about 265 miles per hour, so based on that, you could do Boston to Philly in about 75 minutes. Or say Philly to Phoenix in about 8½ hours.

Now, this train line wouldn't go on existing Amtrak tracks. I'm talking about an all-new right-of-way using magnetic levitation technology. Now, you'd probably have to tear up half of downtown Philly to build the tunnels and tracks. But somebody else can worry about that. I'm thinking macro here. And honestly, who wouldn't prefer traveling from downtown Philly to downtown Los Angeles in 10½ hours on a quiet, comfortable high-speed train with panoramic views of the countryside (with a bar car, obviously) instead of on a cramped, delayed, Airbus 321 with no legroom?

Come on, let's get this done in time for the Eagles' games against the Rams and Chargers this fall!

24. Congrats to Villanova assistant coach Baker Dunleavy, hired Monday as head coach at Quinnipiac (alma mater of Sixers Insider Jessica Camerato). It's a great opportunity for the 34-year-old Dunleavy, who left a comfy job on Wall Street in 2012 to join Wright's staff. But it's also a big loss for the Wildcats. Dunleavy isn't just a respected assistant coach, he's a very effective recruiter. He'll be missed, and he'll be difficult to replace.

25. In honor of Robert Pollard releasing his 100th album this month, here are my 25 favorite Pollard releases … ranked, of course:

1. From a Compound Eye, Robert Pollard, 2006
2. Universal Truths and Cycles, Guided by Voices, 2002
3. Bee Thousand, Guided by Voices, 1994
4. Half Smiles of the Decomposed, Guided by Voices, 2004
5. Alien Lanes, Guided by Voices, 1995
6. Earthquake Glue, Guided by Voices, 2003
7. Isolation Drills, Guided by Voices, 2001
8. Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department, R. Pollard / Doug Gillard, 1999
9. Do the Collapse, Guided by Voices, 1999
10. Blues and Boogie Shoes, The Keene Brothers, 2006
11. Mag Earwhig!, Guided by Voices, 1997
12. Under the Bushes, Under the Stars, Guided by Voices, 1996
13. Choreographed Man of War, Robert Pollard & his Soft Rock Renegades, 2001
14. Not in my Air Force, Robert Pollard, 1996
15. Ask Them, Lexo and the Leapers, 1999
16. Zero to 99, Boston Spaceships, 2009
17. Same Place the Fly Got Smashed, Guided by Voices, 1990
18. Tower in the Fountain of Sparks, Airport 5, 2001
19. Waved Out, Robert Pollard, 1998
20. Fiction Man, Robert Pollard, 2004
21. Motel of Fools, Robert Pollard, 2003
22. The Crawling Distance, Robert Pollard, 2009
23. Robert Pollard Is Off to Business, Robert Pollard, 2008
24. Kid Marine, Robert Pollard, 1999
25. Coast to Coast Carpet of Love, Robert Pollard, 2007

Owners meetings: Brandon Marshall thinks his experience can help Odell Beckham Jr.

Owners meetings: Brandon Marshall thinks his experience can help Odell Beckham Jr.

PHOENIX -- Dressed in a light, white cotton shirt, veteran receiver Brandon Marshall dealt with the desert heat while answering questions from a large semi-circle of reporters at the annual league meetings at the lavish Arizona Biltmore Hotel. 

While Marshall fits in on the football field, he stood out among NFL executives clothed in designer suits. 

But Marshall belonged on Monday morning. He was invited to address the league and give a player's perspective in an effort to bridge the gap between players and owners.

"I think it's evident that our relationship can be so much better," he said.

When thinking about Marshall's history, it's pretty shocking that he's now in the position he is within the league. Early in his career, Marshall wasn't high on the NFL's favorites list -- he was suspended for three games in 2008 after a couple off-the-field run-ins with the law.  

Marshall, now 33, is the perfect example of a player developing maturity along the way. And it's in that arena where he could be the most help to his new teammate Odell Beckham Jr. 

While Beckham has been incredible during his first three NFL seasons, at times, his emotions have gotten the best of him on the field and his maturity has been questioned. 

Marshall thinks he can help. 

"I've been on both ends of this spectrum," Marshall said. "I've been a problem and I've also been a solution. I have a wealth of experience. I just think organically and naturally, whenever he needs, not only him, but any guy in that receiver room, whenever they need to pull from that, they'll do it in a natural and organic way. 

"We have to remember that Odell's 22, 23 years old and we all have our own journey. He's the ultimate competitor and I want him to stay exactly where he's at. It's just sometimes it's easy for us as wide receivers and football players to cross that line, but he'll grow. And next year he's not going to be perfect and the year after that he's not going to be perfect. Shoot, I'm 33 and every year I get better and better. I'm not perfect. I just want him to stay on the track that he's on and mature."

If Marshall can help Beckham and make him even better, that should be pretty scary for the Eagles and the rest of the NFC East.  

Through three NFL seasons, Beckham has 288 catches for 4,122 yards and 35 touchdown catches. He's the only player in league history to do that in his first three seasons. Now, he'll be in a receiving corps with Marshall and second-year player Sterling Shepard. 

"I met Odell a few years ago and we started to form a friendship," Marshall said. "We have a great rapport already, so me coming here was organic and natural. He's awesome. I love him."