The 2012 NFL Draft is almost here, finally. We have been discussing and dissecting the draft since last December. Now, we are just days away from the first round of what should be a very exciting draft.
The 2012 draft class is loaded at almost every position. It's a special class from top to bottom. There will be players outside of the first four rounds that will develop into Pro Bowl players. There will also be some elite players taken in the first round.
Outside of quarterback, tight end, offensive tackle and safety, every position is loaded from top to bottom. The more picks you have, the better. This year, the Eagles have nine picks including three in the first 51 picks and six picks in the first five rounds.
The Eagles are in great position heading into the 2012 NFL Draft. They don't have to draft based on needs. They don't have any pressing needs at the moment, even with All-Pro Jason Peters suffering a season-threatening Achilles injury.
The general manager of the Eagles, Howie Roseman, can approach every draft pick with a "Best Player Available" type of mentality. The front office will be looking at the best players at each individual selection and figuring out if they can fit into the team's current schemes.
It's not about finding nine players that could help at the nine weakest positions. It's about finding the best players available at each pick. If they are as talented as the scouting reports suggest, the coaching staff will find a way to get them on the field.
I'll admit, I have done a complete 180 on Dontari Poe. He had one of the greatest combine workouts in the history of the event. He ran like a defensive end but lifted like a body builder. Guys that weigh over 340 pounds aren't supposed to move like that. He isn't an athlete, he is a freak of nature.
He is exactly the type of player that the Eagles need on their defensive line. Or, at least he could be that type of player. The wide-nine scheme needs a defensive tackle that can command double-teams on a consistent basis while still being able to rush the passer. Albert Haynesworth did just that for years in Tennessee and that is what allowed the wide-nine to be so successful there.
Poe didn't have the type of college career that a super freak athlete at 346 pounds should of had. He had just five career sacks. When you watch him in tape, you can clearly see it wasn't because of a lack of effort. It was more of a case of poor technique and zero help around him. It will take the right situation and a very good defensive line coach to help him reach his potential.
That's where the Eagles come in. Jim Washburn is one of the best defensive line coaches in the game. He got Haynesworth to play at a very high level for several seasons before he became the laziest player in the league in Washington. He turned Jason Babin from a first-round bust to an elite pass rusher. He gets the most out of his players.
This is the ideal situation for Poe. He gets a great positional coach and he joins an already loaded defensive line with the likes of Babin, Trent Cole, Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins. It's a line that racked up 46 sacks last year in their first season running the wide-nine scheme.
Sure, it's a risky pick. But it's a risk worth taking. He could be a dominant defensive tackle in the NFL.
Mohamed Sanu is the most physical wide receiver in the draft. He set a Big East record with 210 career receptions in just three seasons and he did it with three different freshman quarterbacks feeding him the ball.
When you watch Sanu on tape you rarely see him make a catch in the open field. He makes just about every reception in traffic. You can take that two different ways. You could say he can't gain separation from defenders or he is the best coming out of the college at making catches in traffic.
That's an invaluable skill for a receiver. The best receivers in the game will attract double and even triple teams at time. Not everyone can make plays while being surrounded by defenders. The current Eagles receivers can't. Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson can consistently gain separation from the best defenders in the game, but they can't consistently make plays in traffic.
Sanu is the type of receiver that can make the big catches on third downs and in the red zone. The Eagles have the deep threats on the outside, but they need a receiver who can make the big plays over the middle of the field.
He is one of the most polished receivers coming out of college and should be able to make an immediate impact.
Brandon Boykin will be one of the most valuable picks in the draft. He is an elite slot corner and kick returner. Rarely can you find a player who can make an immediate impact on defense and special teams.
Slot corner has become a very important position. Slot receivers like Marques Colston and Wes Welker have too much of an impact in the offense to just put your third best corner in the slot. It's a specific position that requires a specific type of player.
Size doesn't matter, but physicality, agility and ball skills are vital for success in the slot. Boykin showed the ability to jam receivers at the Senior Bowl. He hasn't been able to show off his quickness in pro day workout, but he demonstrated his quickness on tape in college. Scouts should have no doubt about his speed based on his game tape. He also showed his elite ball skills with nine career interceptions.
Boykin will also serve a major need on kick returns for the Eagles. Getting past the 30 yard line on kickoffs was nothing more than a pipe dream in 2011. Boykin finished second in SEC history in kickoff return yardage with 2,663 career yards. He also set an SEC record with three career 100 yard plays.
Boykin will help in two major areas for the Eagles. He gives them a very good slot corner and a dangerous return man. He also has the potential to move to the outside corner position down the road if needed.
It's impossible to project exactly what round Chris Rainey will be selected in the draft. He isn't an every down back. He can't run up the middle with much success and he isn't a reliable back in pass protection. Outside of those areas, there really isn't much he can't do on offense or on special teams.
He is a dangerous outside runner. He can line up as a slot receiver and make plays. He can return kicks, cover them and block them. He had six, I repeat, six blocked punts at Florida. He is a weapon that both Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and special teams coach Bobby April will never run out of ways to utilize him.
I don't believe the Eagles will be drafting a backup running back for LeSean McCoy. They could easily sign a free-agent running back like Justin Forsett if they were looking for that type of player. Maybe they see Dion Lewis as a reliable backup running back. He is more than capable of being a backup running back in a pass happy offense.
Chris Rainey is a good addition to what the Eagles already have on offense. He can come in and get three of four carries a game, three or four catches, a handful of kick returns and should line up all over the field on kick coverage.
This is the second straight pick where the Eagles get a player who can serve more than just one need.
To fully appreciate the type of player that Miles Burris can become as a outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense, you have to watch his game tape. The clip where he chases down Denard Robinson, one of the fastest players in college football, after giving up a 15-yard head start is truly legendary.
Burris is more than just a speedy outside linebacker. He wraps up on tackles better than almost any other linebacker in the draft. He uses his whole body, including his arms to make a tackle. That's rare these days. Too many times you see defenders miss tackles because they go for the big hit or they try to just trip up a ball carrier. Running backs, receivers and even quarterbacks are far too athletic in the NFL to get away with that.
Burris is an exceptional blitzer as well. I could see the Eagles lining him up as the wide end in the wide-nine scheme. He has that explosion off the line and the agility to get around offensive tackles at the next level. If he was about 10 pounds bigger, he would be high on the drafts boards for teams that run the 3-4 defense.
He will need a lot of work in his coverage skills, but the Eagles won't be looking for an every down outside linebacker. The Eagles used Brian Rolle, Keenan Clayton and Casey Matthews as the outside linebacker in nickel packages.
Burris has the physical tools and skill set to be a very successful outside linebacker in the next level. He is an absolute steal in the fourth round.
One of the most underrated type of players in the NFL are reserve linemen that can play multiple poisitons on the line. Ryan Miller of Colorado started at both tackle and guard in college.
At 6'7, he is long enough to play the tackle position. He moves relatively well for a big guy to handle some of the more athletic defensive ends in the NFL. At 321 pounds, he is certainly strong enough to handle the guard position, which was evident with his 32 reps in the bench press at the combine.
Miller is a really physical lineman who has good quickness off the snap. He is athletic enough to do really well in Howard Mudd's blocking scheme. Actually has the physical tools to succeed in any blocking scheme as a guard or right tackle.
He is a good project as well who could take over for either Evan Mathis or Todd Herremans down the road.
The sixth round is all about taking risks. Whether you go after a player with some off the field issues whose draft stock has slipped because of those issues or it's a player with good athletic ability but poor technique, it's a good round to take risks.
Janzen Jackson is certainly a risky pick for more multiple reasons. He played both safety and cornerback in college. Some scouts see him as a safety while others see too small of a frame (6'0", 188 lbs) to handle the safety.
I see Jackson a bit differently. I see a hybrid type of defensive back capable of being used all over the secondary. He can line up as the third safety and match up with the slot receivers. He has outstanding cover skills for a safety but he can definitely hit like a safety.
He needs to add weight to his frame. Big hitting safeties don't have long careers if they weigh less than 190 pounds. He can spend most of the upcoming season contributing on special teams, getting stronger and getting comfortable in the defense.
He is a risky pick because of some of his off the field issues, most notably was his alleged involvement in an armed robbery while at Tennessee in 2009. He was arrested but later released from the charges.
As long as Jackson stays out of trouble, he can become a valuable player as a safety, a cornerback, a special teams player or all of the above.
I must be a sucker for freak-like athletes to select both Dontari Poe and Dale Moss in the Eagles mock draft. Poe is a 346-pound defensive tackle who runs more like a defensive end. Dale Moss doesn't look like a wide receiver when you watch him on tape or at his pro day. He looks like he should be participating in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
Moss wowed scouts and coaches alike at his pro day with a 41.5 inch vertical and a 6.32 three-cone drill. He also achieved 10 feet and 10 inches in the broad jump and a 4.45 40- yard dash. He also showed how strong his 6'4", 220-pound frame was with 23 reps in the bench press.
The concern with Moss is how raw he is right now and how fast he can develop at the next level. There isn't a farm system in the NFL. You can't stash a developmental play like Moss on your triple A team for a year or two. He has to develop while taking up a spot on the roster.
Of course there is no reason why Moss can't be part of the offense as a rookie. He didn't start playing football until the 2011 season. He did rack up 949 yards on 61 receptions and six touchdowns. In Jimmy Graham's first and only college football season he had just 17 receptions for 213 yards at Miami.
Some see Moss is just an athlete trying to play football. You could of easily made the some comment about Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates, DeSean Jackson and Michael Vick just to name a few. They key for Moss to have success will be how the team utilizes him early in his career and how much time his position coach can spend with him on improving his route running and body positioning.
Andy Dalton had immediate success in the NFL in a shortened offseason because his coaches brought him on slowly. They didn't teach him the entire offense in the first few weeks. They kept things simple and he had a great rookie season. That is how you have to approach some of the more raw players in this year's draft.
Adam Gettis will be a solid late round pickup for the Eagles in the sixth round. He is a big of a project at the guard position. He was the most athletic guard at the combine. He ran the second faster 40 time at 5.00 seconds, along with the second best vertical jump at 31.5 inches and the best broad jump at nine feet and four inches.
He is probably too undersized at 290 pounds for most team's blocking schemes. In Howard Mudd's blocking scheme it is more about technique, athleticism and intensity. With some development under coach Mudd, Gettis could improve his technique under Mudd in a couple seasons. He certainly has the athleticism and intensity to succeed in the NFL.
I could see the Eagles stashing him away on the practice squad for a season before he attempts to make the 53 man roster. I don't see a team scooping him up off the practice squad. The need for a 290-pound offensive guard after every team has cut their rosters down to 53 will be pretty low.