Philadelphia Eagles Draft 2012: 5 Steals the Eagles Can Make in First 2 Rounds
The Philadelphia Eagles have three picks in the first two rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft and could be in position to make a couple of steals off the draft board.
As evidenced by LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson, the Eagles have found top talent in the second round before. There is no reason to believe they can't hit the jackpot again this year.
Here are five players the Eagles would be smart to grab if given the chance.
Jerel Worthy is joined by Michael Brockers, Fletcher Cox and Devon Still as one of the best defensive tackles available in the draft. Depending on how scouts rank them on draft day, Worthy could go in the first or fall to the second.
If Worthy ends up at the bottom of the pack, the Eagles could use their first second-round pick on him. He would be a steal that late in the draft, as he has great burst for his size and is a potential starter for the Eagles at defensive tackle.
Concerns about Worthy include an inability to get off double teams and difficulty tacking in space. That may drop him a bit on draft boards, but it would only make him a great second-round pickup for the Eagles, not a great first-round pick for a different team.
The knock against wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is that he's slow and lazy, but he's a big target with first-round talent who will likely drop to the second if he fails to impress at his pro day.
The receiver out of South Carolina had a slow 2011 after leading the SEC in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns in 2010. Some of that can be blamed on South Carolina's quarterback issues last year, as Stephen Garcia and Connor Shaw split time under center.
At the combine, Jeffery helped answer questions about his laziness, as he checked in at 216 pounds—about 14 pounds less than he played with during the season.
However, he was also measured at 6'3", a full inch below his previously listed height. Jeffery also sat out the 40-yard dash, which was going to have a big influence in determining his position in the draft. It's okay to be big, but it's not okay to be big and slow.
Jeffery may end up going at the end of the first round, but if he does slip to second, he would be a steal for an Eagles team that could really use a big target in the red zone.
With the Eagles sitting at 15th in the draft order, Dont'a Hightower isn't worth their first-round pick, but he would be a steal in the second.
The former Alabama linebacker and two-time team captain would be great flanking Luke Kuechly or Vontaze Burfict on the outside and is above average in all facets of the game. His intangibles give him the most value, however, as he has never run into trouble off the field and possesses great instincts on it.
A history of injuries (his ACL, MCL, meniscus and left hand all needed work at one point in his college career) is the only thing concerning about him. Hightower's talent level will likely get him drafted in the late first round or early second.
If he slips to the 14th pick in the second round, the Eagles would have a steal.
Vontaze Burfict has NFL star written all over him, but his draft stock has been gradually falling since the beginning of the 2011 season.
Once a lock for the first round, the inside linebacker out of Arizona State is now projected as a second- or even third-rounder. Despite being very physically gifted, Burfict's mental makeup is a huge question mark. He constantly commits stupid personal fouls and raised red flags about his work ethic after showing up out of shape to pre-combine training.
Speaking of the combine, Burfict was disappointed there as well. His highly-touted speed wasn't on display, as he only managed a 5.04 in the 40-yard dash. It's likely that he was hampered by hamstring issues he has been having since the end of the season.
Despite all of this, Burfict has a very high upside and would certainly be worth a second-round pick. He could be a huge steal if he lives up to his potential.
Luke Kuechly seems to have won over a lot of scouts and draft experts, but not a whole lot of fans. A fair amount of people see him as a bust who was simply in the perfect situation in college.
Whatever the case may be, Kuechly had 191 tackes in his final year at Boston College, and there's a reason Scouts Inc. grades him a 95. He ran the third-fastest 40-yard dash among linebackers with a 4.58 and did 27 reps on the bench press—five more than any other first round-projected linebacker.
Those that complain about his height and presence are basing their complaints off of nonexistent data. Kuechly stands at 6'3" and weighs 242 pounds. He's got elite-level instincts and would be able to step in as the starting middle linebacker right away for any team.
Kuechly is worth a top-10 pick, but will likely fall to the middle of the first round due to team needs. The Eagles will be sitting there with a giant hole at linebacker and should grab him up without hesitation. Whether or not Kuechly is bound for stardom is almost irrelevant.
He is the quickest solution available at linebacker. Philly needs that hole plugged as quickly as possible to stand a chance of winning the Super Bowl next season.