With less than a month until the opening round of the 2012 NFL draft, we are really starting to get a sense of what teams should and will do in the draft. Most of the dust has settled from free agency and teams have taken care of some of their needs, while the others will be shored up in the draft.
Matt Miller is Bleacher Report's Senior NFL Draft Lead Writer. He studies the NFL draft year-round while most mockers don't get a good read on prospects until January at the earliest. He knows the draft and the majority of the prospects inside and out.
Having said that, does he really know the Philadelphia Eagles and how they should draft? It's tough to get a good read on what every team should do with each draft pick. I'll dissect all nine of the Eagles draft picks that Miller has predicted and give a grade to each individual pick. I'll also give a better choice for each pick if I disagree with the prospect Miller has selected for the Eagles.
Dontari Poe didn't just participate in the NFL Combine, he flat out stole the show. He bench pressed 225 pounds 44 times and then proceeded to run the 40-yard dash in under five seconds.
The ceiling is very high for Poe, which has greatly raised his draft stock. The combine isn't the reason why I would question this pick for the Eagles; it's his game tape and production while at Memphis. He made 30 starts in 35 games while at Memphis, but had just five sacks, including just one this past season.
A player that explosive and that strong playing in a non-BCS conference should be putting up monster numbers. Poe is a very raw player that will take some time to reach his potential. He also has bust written all over him. Wowing scouts in the combine is nice and all, but what you do on the field is what counts.
Every year, we see prospects that don't have good numbers at the combine, but produced at the college level. Those are the players that always out perform their draft pick.
Fletcher Cox, a defensive tackle out of Mississippi State, is a much better fit for the Eagles. He is extremely athletic for a tackle, as he proved at the combine, running a 4.79 40. Cox had 24.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks and blocked five kicks during his career with the Bulldogs. He played both defensive end and tackle and college.
His athleticism and versatility would be a perfect fit in the Eagles wide-9 scheme. He would make an immediate impact on both special teams and on defense in pass-rushing situations as a tackle, and against the run in certain formations as a defensive end.
I have absolutely nothing bad to say about Kirk Cousins. His footwork is outstanding. He led his receivers on all of his throws. He has a big enough arm to make all of the throws needed at the next level. His intangibles are through the roof. He would be a great fit in Andy Reid's offense.
I love the player, but not this year and not in the second round. If Michael Vick can prove he can stay healthy and limit his turnovers, he is the quarterback you want leading the Eagles for the next three to five seasons. Michael Vick is 31 years old; this isn't the same situation as when the Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers.
I am going to be really stubborn with the Eagles' 46th-overall pick. If Brandon Boykin is available, you have to take him. He fills two major needs for the Eagles.
Boykin is a cornerback out of Georiga who played primarily in the slot this past season. Joselio Hanson is the Eagles' current nickel back, but he will turn 31 years old this season and is on the final year of his contract.
Boykin has all the abilities you want in a slot corner. He is really quick, can play physical with wide receivers right at the line of scrimmage and has excellent ball skills. He is also a solid tackler as well, capable of making the highlight reel hits across the middle.
He is also an outstanding kick returner, which is a major need for the Eagles right now. He ranks second in SEC history with 2,663 career kickoff return yards and had four returned for touchdown, including three for at least 100 yards.
Boykin fills two major needs for the Eagles with just one pick. I don't see how the Eagles can pass him up if he is on the board.
A lot of people are enamored with Zach Brown's speed, but it takes more then just a fast 40 time to make it as an outside linebacker in the NFL. You have to have great instincts and the ability to make tackles in the open field. You also have to be a physical player to make an impact against the run as well.
Brown is very, very fast. He ran a very fast 4.47 at his pro day. He has the potential to be the type of linebacker that can shut down even the most athletic tight ends in pass coverage. He hasn't proved that to be an inevitability on film yet.
The problem I have with Brown is, he doesn't possess good football instincts and isn't a very physical player either. When I watch him on film, more times than not, the ball-carrier he is attempting to tackle is pushing him backwards. It should be the opposite for a linebacker. He also gets fooled on play action and misdirections far too often.
Ernie Sims was a very similar player coming out of college. Exceptionally athletic, but didn't possess the instincts needed to be a good starting outside linebacker. There are some really good outside linebackers available later in the draft that aren't as fast as Brown, but are much more physical and have better instincts than Brown does.
If he is available, which he wasn't in this mock draft, I would like the Eagles to draft Mohamed Sanu out of Rutgers. Sanu isn't a deep-threat type of wide receiver, but he is very quick, runs very crisp routes and catches everything he gets his hands on. He is exactly the type of receiver the Eagles don't have but very much need.
Brian Quick, a wide receiver out of Appalachian State, is available in this mock draft. He is a good red-zone target for the Eagles. He is listed at 6'4", 220 pounds and is a good leaper, as he proved at the combine with a vertical jump of 34 inches. He is a former basketball player, which is shown on film when you watch him fight for throws in the air.
He should be able to make an immediate impact for the Eagles in the red zone.
Jayron Hosley would be a steal for any team in the third round. He has second-round ability but had some injury concerns this past season, which may scare a team or two away in the first two rounds.
Hosley may have the best ball skills of any cornerback in the draft, which was shown in his sophomore season, when he had 10 interceptions.
He is a really smart player who has a good feel for zone coverage. He doesn't have that comeback speed like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has, so he is best suited for zone coverage or in man coverage with a safety over the top.
Hosley isn't afraid to make a hit in run support, but isn't a very good tackler fundamentally. His technique in man coverage still needs a lot of work, and he probably won't see much playing time right away in Philly.
The Eagles will most likely trade or release Asante Samuel in the next few weeks, so I could see a corner being drafted at some point, but I like Brandon Boykin a lot better than Hosley. Don't forget, the Eagles just spent a third-round pick last year on an outside cornerback of the future in Curtis Marsh. Marsh is bigger, stronger and faster then Hosley.
I love Hosley's ball skills and his potential, but I don't think he is a good fit for the Eagles as of right now.
Vontaze Burfict has gone from a potential top-10 pick in the draft to possibly not being drafted at all. He had an awful senior season at Arizona State, where he was often times benched by coaches, consistently flagged by officials for late hits and even punched a teammate at one point this season.
All of his nonsense this past season at Arizona State probably scared at least 10 teams away from drafting him at all. His efforts at the NFL combine didn't help his case at all. He ran a 5.10 40, which was actually slower than all but 12 defensive tackles at the combine. He also posted a measly 16 reps in the bench press.
Those poor combine numbers probably scared another 10-15 teams away from drafting him. That leaves maybe seven or eight teams that would even consider drafting him at any point. That number may actually be high. His combine numbers, poor intangibles and inconsistency on film scare me away from drafting him at all.
I wouldn't want to add a locker-room cancer to my team even if his combine numbers were off the charts, but when you add a very slow 5.10 40-yard dash, I don't see why anyone would want to add such a risky and inconsistent player.
In this mock draft, the Eagles can select Chris Rainey, Derek Wolfe, Travis Lewis and Michael Egnew. All four players would be great in the Eagles system. Wolfe has good pass-rushing skills for a defensive tackle and would thrive in the wide-9 scheme.
Rainey is a very fast running back who can also line up as a slot receiver, return kicks and block them as well (he blocked six in college). Lewis is a versatile linebacker who is a textbook tackler. He can play all three positions, but is probably best suited for the strong side, which is where the Eagles need to add competition.
Michael Egnew is a receiving tight end who can stretch the field and make plays in the red zone. He runs extremely well for a 6'5", 252-pound tight end.
Right position group, just the wrong position for the Eagles in the fifth round. The Eagles are pretty set with interior linemen. Evan Mathis and Danny Watkins are solid starters, while Julian Vandervelde is a young promising guard and Mike Gibson is a versatile interior lineman who can play both guard and center. I don't see the Eagles spending any picks on a center in the draft.
Tom Compton, a tackle from South Dakota, is available here. He is the better pick. He is extremely athletic for the position, and I think he would thrive in Howard Mudd's blocking scheme.
Both players are pretty athletic for their position. Quentin Saulsberry tested very high in the cone and shuttle drills at the combine, but didn't show very much straight ahead speed with a 5.38 40. The Eagles would be looking for a center who can get upfield very quickly on screen passes.
Jack Crawford is a big, physical defensive end, but apparently, timing and maturity aren't his strengths. Traces of marijuana and drug paraphernalia were found in an apartment belonging to Jack Crawford earlier this month. That isn't going to help a late-round draft prospect that didn't start playing football until his junior year in high school.
If that isn't enough to scare Howie Roseman from drafting him, his lack of explosion will. He isn't a good fit for the wide-9 scheme. If he can clear his name, he has a chance to be drafted in the latter part of day three of the 2012 NFL draft. He had 14 sacks during his career at Penn State and is a high-effort type of player. He has a good chance to make it at the next level, but drug charges won't help his case.
Rhett Ellison is a really interesting prospect. He lined up at tight end, fullback and wide receiver at USC. He is very versatile and can make an impact in a number of ways for an NFL team.
He also isn't a good blocker just yet; his route running needs work and he doesn't break as many tackles as a 250-pound player should. He has good speed (4.73 40 at his pro day) and good leaping ability with a 31.5 vertical jump.
James Hanna out of Oklahoma is a similar player at tight end. Hanna, like Ellison, is a very raw player as well. But Hanna is much more athletic and is faster as well. Both are players you can line up in a number of different ways. I would be happy with either for the Eagles late in the sixth round.
You really just want to find players in the sixth and seventh round that fit your system and that you think have a shot at making the team despite the late-round selection. Ellison and Hanna would have a shot at making the Eagles' final 53-man roster.
I believe the Eagles will line up in more two tight end sets this season. That will require them to carry three tight ends this season as an insurance policy and for competition. They will draft a tight end at some point. If they don't draft someone like Ladarius Green or Michael Egnew a couple of rounds earlier, this would be a good pick.
The Eagles will at some point have to add a fourth safety to their roster. Yeremiah Bell is a possibility. He is a free agent with plenty of experience to serve as a solid backup to Nate Allen, but he is 34 years old and is on the downswing of his career.
The Eagles probably add a player in the draft at safety. Eddie Pleasant is a very good late-round candidate. He is very quick and athletic. He will have to prove his coverage and tackling skills at the next level to earn a spot on the roster, but he would have a very good chance.
I wouldn't be surprised if the Eagles signed Bell and drafted a player like Pleasant to compete for a spot on the roster. If he makes his mark on special teams in preseason, he should make the cut.