Philadelphia Eagles: Top 5 Players Eagles Should Draft in Round 1

Darren GrossmanCorrespondent IJanuary 27, 2012

Philadelphia Eagles: Top 5 Players Eagles Should Draft in Round 1

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    Here is a quick list of five players the Eagles should consider drafting in round 1 of the 2012 NFL draft.  Please keep in mind this is who they should draft, not who I believe they will draft.  I have already went on record as saying the Eagles will likely take an OL or DL in the draft, well, because that is what they do.  However, these players will all be LBs or safeties, as I believe those positions is where they need the most help, so here is ranking five guys I think they should consider taking with their first round pick.

5. Whitney Mercilus, LB Illinois

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    He is projected to convert from defensive line to outside linebacker, but he really only makes this list at number five due to lack of a better option.  If the Eagles are going to consider him, unless his stock rises, they should trade down.  He has good size and knows how to sack the quarterback, which would be great in blitzes. 

    He might be better suited for a 3-4 though and while he had one great season in 2011, he lacks the experience I would want for a first round pick on a team with high expectations last year.

    Overall, he should be considered, but unless they trade down to late first round, the Eagles will and should pass here.

4. Zach Brown, LB UNC

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    Zach Brown has a lot of speed and good size for linebacker and he can play the outside position well.  The nice thing about Brown is most scouts believe he will be very good at covering tight ends, which is something the Eagles have struggled with in past seasons.  I have seen him projected in the 15-25 range, so he is a possibility at 15, but he might be a bit of a reach there.  Still, Brown would fill a major need at linebacker for this team. 

    It depends who is left on the board, he is a possibility if they wanted to go linebacker.  I still believe there are better options though.

3. Luke Kuechly, LB Boston College

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    Most readers are probably surprised I have Kuechly at No. 3 and not in the top two.  While his instincts are solid and he was a great college linebacker, Keuchly is not a natural athlete and is a bit small for a linebacker, although he could add weight before the draft.

    The positives on him are that he is a great, fundamentally sound tackler, which the Eagles could use.  He also has great instincts and always seem to be around the ball.  However, the size is a factor in my opinion and so is his lack of speed and athleticism, as he is not really a natural athlete, which is why I am not that sold on Kuechly.  He might be the most NFL ready linebacker in the draft, but I personally am not sure he will be a top notch linebacker in the NFL, unless he bulks up a bit and gains a little more speed.

    Speed is what defenses are built on, and at 4.7 40 yard dash, he will get outrun by faster tight ends and not be fast enough to track down a lot of mobile quarterbacks or running backs, although he is one of those type of guys who seem to play faster than his 40 time. 

    He wouldn't be a terrible pick, but I wouldn't be overly excited about him, but at least he's a linebacker, which is better than the inevitable DT or OL the Eagles will end up drafting.

2. Mark Barron, Safety Alabama

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    Barron is widely considered the best safety in the draft, he has good size and speed.  He also has big game experience, playing college ball for national champion Alabama.  Barron would be an immediate asset to anyone team who drafts him and a fantastic pick if he is still on the board at 15.

1. Vontaze Burfict, LB Arizona State

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    I know Courtney Upshaw is the highest projected LB in the draft but he is probably going to be gone at 15 and also is more of a 3-4 back. 

    Burfict, on the other hand, would be a great pick up for the Eagles.  Right now most projections have him late first round, so at 15 he would be a bit of a reach.  The Eagles could use their two second round picks to trade back into the first round or trade down at 15 to get an extra second or third rounder, and then take Burfict later in the first round.  Although I wouldn't be surprised if this guy's stock rises before the draft and he ends up being projected mid-first round.

    Why do I like Burfict so much?  Well, for one, he has been compared to Ray Lewis since he got to Arizona State, and that's a pretty good comparison.  He also plays with that Ray Lewis type of aggression and edginess, which I love.

    He was a starter as a freshman, so he has a lot of experience, so he is one of the more NFL ready linebackers in the draft and he gets good marks for reading defenses.

    At 6'3'' 250 he has excellent size for the position as well.  He is an excellent tackler and a smash mouth type of player.  The only real knock on him I saw is that he sometimes commits personal fouls or dumb penalties because he lets his emotions get the best of him, but that is definitely something the Eagles could work with him on.

    For these reasons, in a perfect world, whether it was at 15 or trading down, I would love Burfict to be the first round pick in the 2012 draft for the Philadelphia Eagles.