Andy Reid was unofficially on the hot seat to close out 2011. He will need to advance the Eagles far in the playoffs in 2012 to secure his position. A good draft will go a long way in helping him to do that, if the Eagles use it to shore up the weaknesses on a team that vastly underachieved for 16 games.
DraftTek recently released its newest mock draft, a seven-round projection. Here is how the website views the Eagles approaching the draft as of today.
I have campaigned for the Philadelphia Eagles to select a cornerback with their first-round pick, although I think Dre Kirkpatrick may be a slight stretch with this selection. Morris Claiborne will be gone within the first five-to-ten picks for sure, and from there, the next cornerbacks likely to go will be Dre Kirkpatrick, Stephon Gilmore and Janoris Jenkins.
Personally, I would prefer Gilmore, but his stock seems to be rising constantly, and he may even go in the top-10 overall picks. Jenkins is an unbelievable talent but he has way too many character concerns to warrant a mid-round selection. Kirkpatrick is an extremely solid player, and he was a key part of a championship team at Alabama.
Kirkpatrick would spend 2012 likely playing out of the nickel role if the Eagles trade Asante Samuel, but with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie set to hit free agency after the season, the Eagles could choose to go with Nnamdi Asomugha and Kirkpatrick as their starters in 2013. That would be a scary group of cornerbacks for top wide receivers like Victor Cruz, Dez Bryant and Hakeem Nicks to face twice per season.
Andy Reid has never picked a linebacker in the first round, and after the trade with Houston for two-time Pro Bowler DeMeco Ryans, it’s almost a certainty that he won’t do so now. But Bobby Wagner from Utah State University is a terrific addition to the Philadelphia Eagles for a second-round pick, and he would instantly shore up the team’s linebacker corps.
Wagner is an experienced outside linebacker from a strong school, and he could step in as the strong side linebacker for the Eagles with Brian Rolle resuming his role as the weak side linebacker. Wagner has good size and speed, and should be able to cover tight ends, and he will likely start as a rookie.
This would be the perfect situation for the Philadelphia Eagles—a cornerback in the first round and an outside linebacker and defensive tackle in round two. If Andy Reid doesn’t go defensive line in the first round, he will almost definitely address it, specifically the interior line position, in the second round.
Kendall Reyes from Connecticut would add depth to the defensive tackle position. The Eagles retained starters Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson, and re-signed backups Antonio Dixon and Derek Landri, but Reyes could eventually work his way into the regular rotation and eventually start. He is a big body and has good quickness, and with both Dixon and Landri on one-year deals, Reyes could be a key part of the future.
Nick Toon is a big, possession receiver at 6’3” and 220 pounds, and he would complement DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin well. Toon has good speed at 4.54 in the 40, although he didn’t really get a chance to showcase his skills too much at Wisconsin given how much the team ran the ball.
Toon does make too many easy drops, but he should be a solid receiver, and football clearly runs in his blood, as his father played for the New York Jets.
Trevor Guyton would be a solid pick to add to the defensive end collection. He has impressive size and strength and the versatility that he could probably play end in either a 3-4 or 4-3. Guyton probably wouldn’t ever develop into a regular starter at defensive end, but he is a good player to have in the rotation and he would spell starters Jason Babin and Trent Cole from time to time while getting accustomed to the Philadelphia Eagles’ wide-nine defense.
I have heard speculation that the Philadelphia Eagles may target their quarterback of the future in the 2012 NFL draft, but BJ Coleman would just be another body to push Mike Kafka for the backup role. If the Eagles drafted Coleman, I think that would make Trent Edwards expendable; after all, Edwards was signed to just a one-year deal in the offseason to compete with Kafka for the number two spot.
Coleman has been said to be a sleeper in this year’s draft, and he is a tall quarterback with a strong arm. He is very raw and often struggles with his footwork, which are all problems that a good coaching staff could easily fix. Andy Reid is a quarterback guru who enjoys drafting quarterbacks late and then trying to trade them for picks a la AJ Feeley. Coleman may be another player like Feeley.
When you get to this point in the draft, there’s obviously a very good chance the player won’t make the roster, but Rhett Ellison would get every chance to battle Clay Harbor for the number two tight end position. I highly doubt Ellison would win, since Harbor has been on the team for two seasons already and knows the system, but the Philadelphia Eagles may elect to go with three tight ends and keep Ellison around.
The Philadelphia Eagles need help at safety, but this certainly isn’t the strongest draft class to try to shore up that position. Outside of Mark Barron, no one is worth a top-50 pick, and the Eagles may choose to pick a player late in the hopes that he will be a pleasant surprise at the position in 2012.
Aaron Henry would have to work his way onto the roster as a special teams player, but he could see time, considering Jaiquawn Jarrett and Nate Allen were inconsistent last season.
Lennon Creer had an underrated collegiate career, first at the University of Tennessee and then at Louisiana Tech. He could be a steal for the Philadelphia Eagles as a sixth round pick, and he will at least get the opportunity to fight for the backup or third running back spot with Dion Lewis.
If Creer can return kicks successfully in training camp, that will only add to his overall value.