2012 NFL Draft: 5 Senior Bowl Studs Who Should Be on Philadelphia Eagles' Radar
Senior Bowl week was a very beneficial one for several players.
While first-round locks Michael Floyd of Notre Dame and Devon Still of Penn State decided not to compete in Mobile, Alabama, several college seniors took advantage of the extra attention from NFL scouts, and greatly increased their draft stocks.
Until free agency gets underway and over with, we really don't know what route the Eagles will go early in the draft. Wide receiver, middle linebacker and cornerback could become more or less of a need depending on what happens in early March.
The Eagles could lose DeSean Jackson, sign a veteran middle linebacker or any other veteran who would greatly change their draft strategy. Until then, every position outside of kicker and punter could become a major need for the Eagles.
There isn't a player who thrived during Senior Bowl week that the Eagles shouldn't be taking notice of. Here are five players that the Eagles should be moving up on their draft board and seriously consider taking in less then 90 days.
1. Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas Razorbacks
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
It is unclear if the Eagles and DeSean Jackson are anywhere close to hammering out a new deal. It's even more foggy whether they will be able to get a new deal signed before free agency begins in March.
If the Eagles end up losing Jackson, they will need to draft a speedy wideout who can stretch defenses and make plays in the return game.
Joe Adams is built a lot like DeSean is. Adams is somewhere around 5'11" and 190 pounds, and he has similar speed to Jackson—although, no receiver in college or the pros is anywhere near DeSean.
Having said that, Adams is still a speedy playmaker with more strength.
The two major differences between Adams and Jackson are that Jackson has freak-like speed you don't find very often—while Adams has merely great speed—and Adams' surprising strength and ability to break tackles.
He demonstrated his strength and speed combo at the Senior Bowl with eight catches for 133 yards. He caught passes over the middle and broke several tackles.
Adams certainly wouldn't be an upgrade over DeSean right away, but his speed would be a nice replacement through the draft that the Eagles would need.
They could still sign a top-notch receiver in free agency, such as Vincent Jackson, or they could draft a bigger receiver early in the draft like Michael Floyd.
2. Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State Spartans
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Kirk Cousins came into the Senior Bowl as one of the quarterbacks battling to establish themselves as the third-best quarterback in the draft behind Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.
Cousins looked like that third-best quarterback during practice in Mobile, as he demonstrated great footwork in the pocket and led his receivers on just about every single throw. He proved to NFL scouts that he can make every throw needed at the next level.
Cousins' stats in the actual game don't stand out—five out of 11 passes for 115 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Nevertheless, he could have completed a couple more passes had he been playing with his own teammates, rather than players he met only a few days ago.
Cousins is the complete package at quarterback. He isn't an obvious first-round pick, but he has all the skills, intangibles and leadership qualities you want in the most important position in football.
If the Eagles decide to take a quarterback to compete with Mike Kafka for the backup spot and the eventual replacement for Michael Vick in a couple years, then Cousins may be the best fit.
3. Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati Bearcats
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
At first glance, Florida's Chris Rainey appears to be the best 2012 NFL Draft running back fit for the Eagles.
They don't need a starter or a compliment to LeSean McCoy, but they need a speedy back who can both catch the ball and be a potential home-run threat, while also being a big contributor on special teams.
In the Senior Bowl, Rainey looked tentative when he had the football and didn't impress on any of his returns.
Cincinnati's Isaiah Pead did impress, however.
Pead had two punt returns—for 38 yards and 60 yards—in the Senior Bowl, and he also had nine touches on offense for 40 yards.
Pead looked like a nice compliment to any NFL team's backfield. He has good speed and outstanding vision to make plays on the ground and on punt returns.
He wasn't used much as a return man in college, with just six career punt returns and one career kickoff return, but he demonstrated enough in the Senior Bowl to get a serious look as a return man prospect come April.
4. Vinny Curry, DL, Marshall Thundering Herd
Bob Levey/Getty Images
Vinny Curry may be the fastest riser in the draft right now.
He finished off his college career with two dominating seasons, in which he racked up 39.5 tackles for loss and 23 sacks.
Curry capped his college career with an outstanding showing during the week of practice at the Senior Bowl, and he was even better in the actual game. Curry had two sacks, and he knocked down a pass and pressured Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden into an interception.
Curry stood out as a dominating 4-3 defensive end all week in Mobile, and he may have gone from a third-round prospect to a potential late first-round pick.
Curry would be a great fit in Jim Washburn's defensive line scheme. He is extremely explosive and surprisingly strong. He doesn't have any major weaknesses, and he should be the type of player who is able to make a major impact right away.
Curry could be a great fit as one of the Eagles' two mid-second-round picks.
5. Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia Bulldogs
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
In the week of practice at the Senior Bowl, Brandon Boykin might have done the most to improve his draft stock.
Boykin was projected as a third-round pick coming into the week and was seen as more of a raw prospect with great speed.
After this week, Boykin showed he has the ability to stay with any receiver down the field and play physical with receivers right at the line of scrimmage. He also showed his athleticism when playing the ball in the air all week.
At 5'10" and 185 pounds, Boykin doesn't have great size, but he does possess good speed and his athleticism is off the charts. Boykin has elevated himself to one of the top five best cornerbacks in the draft.
With the Eagles expected to trade Asante Samuel, and with Philadelphia's other outside cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha being matched up against the more athletic tight ends in the league, the Eagles need another capable outside cornerback.
Second-year man Curtis Marsh and journeyman Brandon Hughes are major question marks going forward as dependable outside corners. Boykin showed exactly the type of corner he is capable of being at the next level.
While Boykin left the Senior Bowl with a broken leg, he only expects to be out three weeks. Even if he can't make it back in time for the NFL Scouting Combine—Feb. 22-28—he remains a player the Eagles should take a look at.