NFL Draft 2012: Predicting Complete 7-Round Draft for Philadelphia Eagles
With the signal sent that all is well in Eagleville, expect Reid to proceed as such during the offseason. That means no rebuilding and no major change in draft strategy.
Look for the Eagles to plug holes on defense and look for an eventual replacement to malcontent DeSean Jackson, the sort of patch-up work typical of a front office that feels, and has felt for quite some time now, that they are one player or play from Super Bowl glory.
First Round, Pick 15: Devon Still, DT (Penn State)
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I know, it's crazy.
I see you banging your head against the wall in frustration and I'm right there with you. Why in the world would the Eagles pick a defensive lineman in the first round with such glaring deficiencies at linebacker?
Because these are Andy Reid's Philadelphia Eagles, and they've always placed a premium on linemen in the first round. This year will be no different, as the Eagles take the most talented interior defensive lineman in the 2012 draft.
Still had an outstanding senior season despite the mess at Penn State, which ought to prepare him well for the shit storm that awaits in Philadelphia.
Note that the Eagles could take an interior linebacker like Luke Kuechly or Vontaze Burfict with this pick, especially if they hire a new defensive coordinator with personnel pull (think Steve Spagnuolo).
Second Round, Pick 45: Mark Barron, S (Alabama)
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Jaiquawn Jarrett we hardly knew ye.
One year after whiffing badly on the Temple product, the Eagles try to atone by picking a safety from a big name school in 2012.
Barron's a first-round talent with good speed and tackling ability, and ought to play well alongside the less gifted but more intuitive Kurt Coleman.
With recent selections like Jarrett and Nate Allen already falling out of favor, the Eagles need help on the back end. Barron can step in on day one and give a team with playoff aspirations a quick boost.
Think low ceiling, big impact.
Second Round, Pick 46: Kendall Wright, WR (Baylor)
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Kendall Wright's raw metrics:
5'10", 190 lb, 4.4 speed
Sound like anyone you know?
There's a growing chorus of folks saying the Eagles will draft DeSean Jackson's replacement in the first round—perhaps Notre Dame's Michael Floyd.
Philadelphia won't take that bait.
Andy Reid isn't inclined to take skill position players in the first round (Donovan McNabb, Freddie Mitchell and Jeremy Maclin are the only three), and the head coach won't blow the top off the Jackson saga by taking his heir apparent so early.
A first-round wideout would force the Eagles to let Jackson walk. A stealth selection in the second round gives them the flexibility, with some gentle coaxing, to franchise Jackson for one year and see how the pick develops.
Wright mirrors Jackson in almost every way, from his speed to his size to his tremendous college production. Just as the Birds picked Jackson in the second round, they'll take a chance on his replacement with pick 46 (provided Wright is still on the board).
Third Round, Pick 79: Travis Lewis, OLB
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If I know Andy Reid, here's where the linebacker hoarding begins.
Plenty of folks think the Eagles should pursue a more high profile Lewis from Oklahoma, but pass-rushing LB/DE Ronnell Lewis would require a higher draft selection. So just as the Eagles settled for the inferior Matthews last year, the settle for the inferior Lewis in 2012.
Not that Travis Lewis is the second coming of Casey Matthews, just that the undersized speedster will need to rely on instincts and athleticism to succeed at the next level.
Lewis should challenge Brian Rolle for a starting spot from day one, and add some bite to a toothless Eagles linebacking corps.
Fourth Round, Pick 101: Audie Cole, ILB (North Carolina State)
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The linebacker run continues in round four, with the Eagles eyeing an upgrade to their marshmallow-soft interior.
Without a big body in the middle and their defensive ends split wide in the—you guessed it—wide nine alignment, Philadelphia struggled to defends runs between the tackles last year.
Cole is a big body with oodles of college experience, ready to step in early and challenge NFL blockers.
Cole isn't a pass rusher, but that's not what the Eagles need. They get plenty of pressure from the defensive line, a run-stopper in the middle will do just fine.
Fourth Round, Pick 110: Markus Zusevics, OT (Iowa)
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Can't you just see it now, the draft is two days old and Andy Reid hasn't had his offensive lineman fix yet. Sweating, nervous, exasperated, Reid scratches the itch by taking Markus Zusevics with the Eagles' second fourth-round selection.
While Todd Herremans did an admirable job at tackle in 2011, it's no secret the Eagles prefer him at guard. If Zusevics pans out, the versatile lineman could push Herremans back to the interior.
If he doesn't, well, at least he can keep Julian Vandervelde company.
Fifth Round, Pick 142: Cliff Harris, CB/KR (Oregon)
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Off-field issues forced Oregon coach Chip Kelly to dismiss star cornerback Cliff Harris in December, but the diminutive burner doesn't lack for talent.
Harris has elite punt and kick returning skills in addition to his defensive capabilities, dimensions that make him especially attractive to the Eagles.
With Dion Lewis failing to impress on kickoffs last season and the Eagles always looking for a capable backup to DeSean Jackson in the punt game, Harris makes great sense as a late-round gamble pick for the Birds.
The Eagles have shown a willingness to take on rap sheets the past few years, and if they can turn around Harris they get tremendous value here in the fifth round.
Sixth Round, Pick 174: Ben Burkett, C (Northwestern)
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With their first sixth-round pick, the Eagles look for a center to challenge incumbent Jason Kelce in 2012.
Kelce emerged from the late rounds to steal Jamaal Jackson's starting job, and methinks Philadelphia would like to see him up against another hungry job seeker before turning over the reins.
Ben Burkett is the kind of undersized, quick lineman returning offensive line coach Howard Mudd prefers. He has a healthy chunk of college experience and should be able to compete early in training camp.
Sixth Round, Pick 181: Russell Wilson, QB (Wisconsin)
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A superior college performer, questions about Russell Wilson's viability as a pro quarterback relate to his size.
At 5'10" and without the quickness or arm strength of Michael Vick, pro scouts worry about his ability to pass over top NFL defenses.
They cannot, however, question Wilson's maturity, mobility or ability to throw outside the pocket and on the run.
In those categories Wilson rates well, and the Eagles could test him as a third-string option if they feel Mike Kafka is ready for the backup role. Great college quarterbacks deserve a shot in the pros, and Wilson could get his in Philadelphia
Sixth Round, Pick 191: Cody Johnson, FB (Texas)
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The Eagles went for fullback Stanley Havili in the seventh round last year, but the USC product couldn't cut it.
They've idled with Owen Schmitt the past two years, but offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg covets a more versatile performer at that position.
Cody Johnson carried the ball with surprising frequency at Texas and has the kind of athleticism the Eagles want in a fullback. Lead blocking is great, but a last-second outlet for Michael Vick in the flat would be even better.
Johnson's also a capable short-yardage back, potentially relieving LeSean McCoy of those duties on occasion.