Two factors that will greatly affect how the Eagles draft this April will be whether they are able or willing to re-sign DeSean Jackson and whether they sign a veteran middle linebacker. I believe there is a very good chance that the Eagles will both lose Jackson in free agency and sign a veteran linebacker like Curtis Lofton or Stephen Tulloch.
Jackson is a special player that forces defenses to game-plan around his speed to prevent the deep ball. He is also a major liability in the red zone because of his small frame.
Because of his limited production in the red zone and his high number of dropped passes during his career in Philadelphia, there is a good chance the Eagles will decide to not overpay for Jackson and let him sign elsewhere.
There is also a good chance the Eagles will decide to sign a veteran middle linebacker to help shore up their run defense that was atrocious at times last season.
There is really only one immediate-impact 4-3 middle linebacker, Luke Kuechly, and he may not even be there for the Eagles at pick No. 15 in the first round.
Taking care of the need at middle linebacker allows the Eagles to use their first-round pick on the best player available who can make a huge impact early on either side of the ball.
This mock draft is done based on if the Eagles lost DeSean in free agency and also signed a middle linebacker in free agency as well. Both are very real possibilities this offseason.
With the Eagles already taking care of middle linebacker in free agency, this pick becomes more about getting the best player available then just taking a need player.
Whenever you have Jim Washburn as your defensive line coach, you can never have too many good linemen.
Devon Still can come in right away and get reps in Washburn's rotation with Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins—and possibly either Derek Landri, Antonio Dixon or Cedric Thornton, depending on whom the Eagles bring back and whom they let go at the position.
Still is a very powerful tackle with good but not great explosion. He hasn't quite reached his potential yet, and having him learn from a coach like Washburn would greatly benefit him in a hurry. He's a very good run stuffer who should free up whoever the Eagles have at middle linebacker.
Adding a strong and powerful tackle like Still should do wonders for the Eagles run defense, and his technique should greatly improve, which should allow him to be a much better pass-rusher than some scouts believe he can be.
The Eagles need to become a much better red-zone offense.
They lost both games and fell to 1-4 when they should have risen to 3-1.
Alshon Jeffery would greatly improve the Eagles inside the 20. Jeffery isn't a burner like Jackson, but he is a very strong and very long receiver.
Jeffery, at 6'4", 230 pounds, is a very difficult matchup one on one for corners because of his size and strength.
He also has great hands that allow him to both break away from press coverage and consistently make the circus catches that few have the ability to make.
His biggest weakness is his lack of top-end speed. Defensive backs will give a cushion to Jeffery, but he is a very effective receiver in screen passes and quick slants, which can offset a five-yard cushion that cornerbacks will give him.
The Eagles offense need that physical receiver to convert third downs and red-zone opportunities in order for the offense to truly be great. Jeffery should be able to make an immediate impact in that area.
Like I said earlier, when you have a coach like Jim Washburn who likes to rotate his defensive linemen for 60 minutes, you can never have too many good pass-rushers.
Vinny Curry is one of the most impressive defensive ends in the draft.
Curry is explosive off the line, he is powerful and he has a motor that never goes out.
His intangibles and leadership skills are through the roof. He really is the complete package at defensive end and is the type of player that will thrive under coach Washburn.
He can come in and make an impact in the rotation with Trent Cole, Jason Babin and Darryl Tapp. Juqua Parker will likely be cut and Brandon Graham's knee is a major question mark.
Phillip Hunt also figures to be in the mix but is still a little raw now after his first season in the NFL after coming from the CFL.
The Eagles need to replace DeSean Jackson's speed in both the receiving corps and in the return game.
Joe Adams can do that by himself.
Adams isn't quite as fast as Jackson is, but nobody at wide receiver in the NFL is.
He is, however, a lot stronger and has more ability as a receiver going down the middle, and he can break a lot more tackles as well.
Adams should be able to come in as a speedy deep threat that defenses will have to game-plan around. He will also come in and lock up the punt-return spot as well. Adams had four punts returned for touchdowns in 2011.
Keenan Robinson is one of the best 4-3 outside linebacker prospects in the draft.
He has a good size and speed combo that should allow him to compete for the Eagles' strong side linebacker spot right away.
He has very good chaser speed while also possessing the ability to shed blockers against the run.
He also has a little bit of a nasty streak that should be a nice addition to the Eagles linebacking corps.
He should add plenty of competition with Jamar Chaney at the strong side linebacker position while also being able to contribute on special teams, where he made his mark at Texas as a freshman.
No linebacker's job is safe in Philly right now, and the Eagles need to add a player or two to add some competition in the draft.
The Eagles will be using more two tight end sets in 2012, and that means they will have to carry three tight ends.
Michael Egnew would be a good fit for the Eagles offense.
Egnew may look like a tight end at 6'5", 245 pounds, but he runs like a true wide receiver.
He has a very long stride and a high vertical that make him both a very good deep threat and a great red-zone target.
Egnew is now used as a linebacker in Missouri's spread offense and will have a huge learning curve in that area. He does have great awareness against zone defenses and always knows where the first-down marker is. He's a very good receiver after the catch as well.
He should be a player who can make an impact on the Eagles offense right away in certain packages.
The Eagles are pretty set at offensive tackle with Jason Peters and Todd Herremans, but they really don't have a "Howard Mudd" type player at either backup offensive tackle.
Markus Zusevics is that type of player.
Some scouts will say he isn't athletic enough, but he actually has outstanding footwork and moves very well laterally.
He gets really physical right at the point of attack and should thrive under the teaching of coach Mudd.
He won't have to start anytime soon, and if the Eagles bring back King Dunlap, he won't have to see any action as a rookie (barring some major injuries).
Zusevics has a great deal of potential. He just needs to be in the right system—which he will in Philly—and he needs to improve on his technique a little bit as well.
The Eagles may use an extra third-round pick on Cincinnati's running back Isaiah Pead after they trade Asante Samuel, but until they make the trade, Adonis Thomas makes the most sense here.
Thomas is a good dual-threat back, as he racked up more than 2,000 yards rushing and 700 yards receiving over the last two seasons.
Thomas doesn't have much experience as a returner, but his shiftiness and his vision should make him a capable kickoff returner at the next level.
He won't get many touches on offense in 2012 behind LeSean McCoy and Dion Lewis, but he could become a bigger part of the offense down the road.
The backup center spot for the Eagles is a bit of a mystery.
Jamaal Jackson will most likely be let go so he can compete for a starting spot elsewhere, as he isn't a good fit under offensive line coach Howard Mudd.
The Eagles could sign a veteran to backup Jason Kelce or they could draft someone to back him up. Actually, they should do both.
David Molk would come in and compete with a veteran backup for one spot on the Eagles' 53-man roster. At just 288 pounds, Molk will look undersized for some scouts but is an ideal fit for the Eagles.
He would stand a pretty good chance of beating out a veteran for the backup center spot, depending on whom the Eagles bring in.
The Eagles have three safeties who are locks to make the team in Kurt Coleman, Nate Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett.
They will most likely carry four safeties in 2012.
The Eagles, just like at the center position, will probably sign a veteran backup and draft a player at the spot late in the draft to compete for the final roster spot.
Damien Jackson has good but not great speed and is a good but not great tackler.
He is still very raw in coverage as well. He does possess all the skills needed to be a successful player on special teams, and that is how he can earn a spot on a roster at the next level.