10 Players Philadelphia Eagles Should Target on Day 2
Johnson has the supreme athleticism required to succeed in Kelly’s offense. He’s a former collegiate quarterback, tight end and defensive end who played left tackle his final two years as a Sooner. Johnson posted a ridiculous 4.72 40-yard dash, which makes him a player made in the mold of Jason Peters.
His addition allows the Eagles to move Todd Herremans inside to his natural guard position while former first-round bust Danny Watkins can move to the bench. Johnson solidifies an offensive line that was a weak spot in 2012, but Kelly still has eight picks with which he can further improve the roster.
The Eagles were 4-12 last year, losing 11 of their final 12 games. The defense was the downfall of the campaign, as Philadelphia surrendered at least 20 points in its final eight contests. Kelly has the 35th pick, the 67th pick, a fourth- and fifth-round pick, and then four late seventh-round picks. The following 10 players would all be of substantial help, but they would need to be obtained during rounds two or three.
Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
The Eagles did add Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung via free agency, but that shouldn’t keep Kelly from drafting a new safety in the upper rounds. Jonathan Cyprien was seen as a first-round talent by many, and if he’s still there at pick 35, he becomes a top priority.
Kelly takes over a defense that surrendered a franchise-worst 33 passing touchdowns. That’s what Andy Reid gets for trying to force backups Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman into starting spots. Phillips and Chung are upgrades, but Cyprien will definitely start if he gets drafted.
He’s a hard-hitter and an aggressive player who set his career school record in tackles. Cyprien would instill fire in a defense that too frequently failed to wrap up running backs.
Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
If Geno Smith is still there at pick 35, how in the world could Kelly not take him? Many people expected the West Virginia quarterback to go anywhere from picks two through nine, and the fact that he is still around entering the second day becomes a dream scenario for Kelly.
The only plausible way he’s not available is if the Jacksonville Jaguars select Smith 33rd, but they’ll likely choose among Ryan Nassib, Matt Barkley and Smith. The odds are good that they won’t pick Smith, and if Kelly wants Smith bad enough, he can trade up just two spots to select his franchise quarterback.
Should the Jaguars select Smith, Arizona’s Matt Scott becomes a more ideal option around the third or fourth round. He’s a similar player to Smith, although he’s much more raw and needs several years of coaching to reach his potential.
Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
As is Cyprien, Johnthan Banks is a physical and aggressive playmaker. He has excellent size and can lay a hit on opposing wide receivers.
Banks fills a huge position of need for the Eagles. Kelly added free-agent acquisitions Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher to replace veterans Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Williams will start on the opposite, but Fletcher is best suited in the nickel.
Banks is an experienced four-year starter. He has excellent ball skills, he’s a sound tackler, and he’s going to push for Fletcher’s starting spot immediately should Kelly select him.
D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina
The Eagles won’t need D.J. Swearinger if they draft Cyprien, but if they pass on Cyprien, then Swearinger becomes a solid third-round option.
Swearinger is a leader at safety. He’s a tough, physical safety who can step in and be a vocal playmaker for a porous defense. He can cover tight ends, stop the run and even blitz the quarterback should he be needed.
He is an aggressive player who can smack down on receivers or running backs should they cross the middle. The Eagles need a player such as that in their secondary.
Johanthan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Considering the Eagles are switching to a 3-4 defense, they will need players to fit the new three-man front. Isaac Sopoaga is a short-term stopgap at nose tackle, Fletcher Cox is the one five-technique end, but the other spot is up for grabs.
Ohio State’s Johnathan Hankins is big enough at 325 pounds that he can play 3-4 nose tackle or 3-4 end. He might just be a two-down player, but he has the potential to give opposing offensive lines trouble with his superb athleticism.
He’s a much better run-stopper than pass-rusher, but that’s fine given the abilities of Cox, Trent Cole and Brandon Graham to pressure opposing quarterbacks. Kelly will have to grab Hankins in the second round because he won’t make it to the early third round.
John Jenkins, NT, Georgia
John Jenkins is a classic zero-technique 3-4 nose tackle who can line up directly over the center in Kelly’s new defense. He offers little support as a pass-rusher, but he’s a massive body that plugs the middle of the line and requires double teams due to his sheer size.
Jenkins played in a 3-4 at Georgia, seeing reps as the nose tackle, which made life easier for playmakers Jarvis Jones, Sanders Commings and Bacarri Rambo. Jenkins has struggled with his weight in the past, reportedly playing at close to 370 pounds in 2012.
But he’s down to about 330, and that will allow him to be a two-down run-stopper in the NFL. He can likely be obtained with an early third-round selection.
Sanders Commings, CB, Georgia
The depth at the cornerback position is extremely deep, which could push Sanders Commings down further than normal. Commings is a likely third-round talent who would be an asset to the Eagles' defense given his size and speed.
Commings is exceptionally quick, having posted a 40 time in the low 4.4s. He is raw at covering wide receivers in zone coverage, and is better in press coverage where he can use his aggressiveness to contain his receivers. Commings is a natural athlete who adjusts well to the ball in the air and can make tackles against the run.
He will fight for time in an Eagles' secondary that features Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher and Brandon Boykin, although he will at least see rookie snaps as a nickel or dime back.
Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
Kawann Short is a traditional 4-3 defensive tackle or 3-4 defensive end who could drop because he’s not an edge pass-rusher. Short compares in the NFL mold to a player such as Domata Peko.
Short won’t lead the NFL in sacks, but he’s a big body who takes up space and can fight double-team blocks. He is a fine run-stopper and will see time at end and nose tackle should the Eagles add him to their roster.
He’s too good to last to the 67th overall pick, which means Kelly will have to take him with the 35th selection if he wants him for his defense.
Kiko Alonso, ILB, Oregon
For those who thought Kelly would stockpile his team full of Oregon players, that wasn’t the case with pass-rushing linebacker Dion Jordan or offensive lineman Kyle Long. Then again, Jordan went one pick before the Philadelphia Eagles drafted fourth, and Long was a surprise first-round selection by the Chicago Bears.
Kiko Alonso is an inside linebacker who played in a 3-4 defense at the University of Oregon. The Eagles have DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks manning the spots now, but Ryans has several factors suggesting he could be a veteran cut soon. He’s set to make $6.7 million in 2013, he suffered a serious injury recently, and he’s a poor fit in a 3-4.
Alonso could play as a rookie behind Kendricks and Ryans before taking over as a full-time starter in ’14. At the least, he provides solid depth at the position immediately.
Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
The end could be near for Eagles' veteran Brent Celek. He’s a fine tight end, but he’s regressed for consecutive seasons, and his drops and injuries could make him a veteran cut in training camp.
Kelly signed free agent tight end/fullback James Casey already, but Zach Ertz would be another weapon for his offense. Ertz is an athletic pass-catching playmaker who looked by many to be a first-round talent. Ertz has great size, quickness and excellent hands that make him a reliable option in the passing game.
Add him to an offense that already includes LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Casey, and Michael Vick will have plenty of weapons in 2013.