Philadelphia Eagles: Top 5 Players Team Should Target with First-Round Pick
The Philadelphia Eagles are just one game away from ending their dismal 2012 season. While changes are surely at stake for the team, one positive is that the Eagles will likely select in the top five of the upcoming NFL draft.
As it currently stands, the Eagles are slated to pick fourth overall behind the Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders. That would be the highest Philly has picked since Andy Reid’s selection of Donovan McNabb second overall in the 1999 NFL draft.
There’s no guarantee as to which position the Eagles will pick, especially since it’s seen as a down year for top talent. Nick Foles will likely enter camp as the quarterback next August, which means the new head coach will probably look elsewhere for his first-round pick.
The Eagles could certainly use an upgrade on the offensive line. Their cornerback situation is in shambles. And they could definitely use a big-time wide receiver.
Considering how high the Eagles are picking, it’s essential they hit on this pick.
Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
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Every draft has a stellar offensive lineman projected to go in the top three or four overall picks. Luke Joeckel is that guy in 2013.
He’s a prototypical left tackle that a team can build around. Drafting Joeckel would enable the Philadelphia Eagles to move Todd Herremans from right tackle to his natural position (guard). Herremans has always played left guard, but he should be able to take over for first-round bust Danny Watkins at right guard.
Joeckel has the size to be a left tackle, so starting him at right tackle would allow him to get his feet wet in the NFL. Joeckel is 6’6”, 310 pounds, and he’s got all the physical tools to be a standout blocker. The Eagles have All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters signed through the 2014 season, which would give Joeckel two years at right tackle before he can slide over to be the blind-side protector for Nick Foles.
The only question for the Eagles would be if he’s still around at this pick.
Manti Te’o, MLB, Notre Dame
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This year’s Heisman Trophy runner-up has NFL All-Pro written all over him. Manti Te’o will cap off a sensational senior season by playing against Alabama in the national championship game, and a strong performance could vault his stock into the top two to three overall picks.
Te’o is physically imposing at 6’2”, 255 pounds, which will enable him to stick with many of the game’s best tight ends. He is fast and can easily anchor a 4-3 defense. Te’o is a tackling machine, but he can also rack up sacks and record interceptions.
Imagine Te’o in the middle of the Philadelphia Eagles defense with a strong front four in front of him. That could make the Eagles a contender again.
DeMarcus Milliner, CB, Alabama
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Whether the Philadelphia Eagles bring back Nnamdi Asomugha or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie remains to be determined.
Asomugha is due $15 million in 2013 and the Eagles will be penalized $4 million if they release him. That makes it likely he will return. DRC will need a new contract as he is set to hit free agency, and it’s doubtful the Eagles bring both corners back. Factoring in the way the defense performed under Todd Bowles means the Eagles may need a fresh start at cornerback.
DeMarcus Milliner was a stud at Alabama, earning a consensus All-American selection for 2012. He’s fairly big at 6’1” and close to 200 pounds, and he could stick with tight ends as well as wide receivers. Milliner is still just 20 years old, which makes him one to two years younger than most players entering the draft.
Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
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The Philadelphia Eagles should have a solid set of starting defensive ends in 2013 with Brandon Graham and Trent Cole. They’re lacking depth though, especially with the release of veteran Jason Babin.
Darryl Tapp and Phillip Hunt each underperformed this season, and neither should be back next year. Vinny Curry is a solid rotational guy, and a player like Damontre Moore could really give the Eagles a strong defensive line again.
Moore is a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker much like Graham was at the University of Michigan. Moore can win with quickness or power, and he has excellent speed. Draft guru Todd McShay said no individual player’s stock rose as much as Moore’s in 2012.
Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
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Picking Chance Warmack would only be logical if the Philadelphia Eagles traded out of the top 10. That’s just too high to select an interior offensive lineman.
But Warmack is very NFL-ready, and his game should translate well to the NFL. Warmack is said to be the best guard coming out of college football since Steve Hutchinson in 2001, and he has almost no bust potential.
Danny Watkins has been largely a disappointment since the Eagles selected him in the first round in 2011. Selecting Warmack would be giving up on Watkins already, but it may be the best move.