2014 Eagles Mock Draft: Who Is the Ideal Pick in Every Round?
For the Philadelphia Eagles, the offseason began early. A first-round playoff loss gives the team three extra weeks to ponder filling holes in its roster.
And the holes the Eagles need to fill are glaring.
The defense could use help at pretty much every position. And the offense, while much less problematic, will depend on how the team deals with receivers Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, both of whom are hitting free agency this summer.
Thinking about the draft is a bit premature right now, since moves in free agency dictate what holes are remaining to address. But nonetheless, here is a pick-by-pick look at how the Eagles should address the 2014 draft (if it were to occur tomorrow).
First Round (22nd Overall): Justin Gilbert, CB (Oklahoma State)
The Eagles desperately need help in the secondary, as they had the worst pass defense in the NFL last season. Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard will most likely be off the board, with teams like the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions in desperate need of corners as well.
But the Eagles will be able to get the next best thing in Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert. The 6'0" Gilbert is a taller corner, and his size should help address the lack of physical play in the Philadelphia secondary.
While Gilbert needs to improve his technique, his combination of speed, agility and ball skills are rare. And he is also an excellent kickoff returner, something the team has lacked for the past several years.
His potential for immediate impact as both a corner and a returner will make him difficult to pass up.
Second Round (54th Round): Deone Bucannon, SS (Washington State)
If Ha Ha Clinton-Dix falls to the second round, the Eagles will not hesitate to snatch him up. Clinton-Dix would be too great a value, and the Eagles need safety help more than anything.
But the Eagles have a pretty late second-round pick. Even if Clinton-Dix falls out of the first round, he should be gone midway through the second round.
Besides, the biggest hole on the team was the strong safety spot, not the free safety. Nate Allen was not great, but overall he played well this season and the Eagles may look to bring him back.
Patrick Chung, on the other hand, was horrendous, consistently getting burned for big plays and missing tackles. Earl Wolff was a bit better but overall looked like a rookie, at least in terms of coverage.
Enter Deone Bucannon, a large, 215-pound safety who specializes in big plays and bonecrushing hits. The Eagles have lacked a playmaker at safety ever since the departure of Brian Dawkins and will get closer to replacing that void by selecting the physical Bucannon.
Third Round (86th Overall): Demarcus Lawrence, DE/OLB (Boise State)
Chip Kelly is the kind of head coach who likes to take chances on upside. And with the third-round pick, he will do just that with the selection of Boise State's Demarcus Lawrence.
Lawrence possesses deceptive power at the point of attack and uses great leverage when rushing the passer. He will need to put on some weight if he wants to play DE but should be able to do just that because of his lanky frame.
And Lawrence also possesses the agility to play linebacker and drop back into coverage. Kelly likely takes a chance on him here.
Fourth Round (No. TBD): Brandon Linder, OG (Miami)
As an offensive-minded guy, Eagles head coach Chip Kelly does not go four rounds without taking a single offensive player. With Philadelphia's skill-position players seemingly set for now, Kelly will get the best offensive guard he can at this position in the draft.
While Evan Mathis is the best guard in the NFL, Todd Herremans leaves much to be desired. Based on his size and solid pass-protection abilities, the 6'6", 319-pound Linder should draft some interest from the Eagles.
Fifth Round (No. TBD): Devin Street, WR (Pittsburgh)
Chip Kelly will always want to add playmakers to his offense, and he has the perfect chance to do so here with Devin Street.
With the Eagles reportedly being open to bringing back both Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, according to Philly.com, most likely they will have to cut or trade Jason Avant to open up cap space.
But by drafting Street, they can potentially get a player very similar to Avant in playing style. Like Avant, Street lacks elite speed and will probably never be a top-flight NFL wide receiver. But also like Avant, Street has incredible hands and body control.
He could become a reliable role player, just like Avant was, and for a fraction of the price. Street is also a large target, at 6'3", and could be a valuable red-zone and short-yardage receiver.
Fifth Round (No. TBD, Pending New England): Prince Shembo, DE (Notre Dame)
The Eagles need all the pass-rushers they can get their hands on.
The defensive line, while on a roll at the end of last season, was far from dominant. Trent Cole was much improved, but how much gas does he really have left in the tank? And players like Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham are not every-down players.
With their second fifth-round pick, the Eagles can nab Notre Dame's prized pass-rusher and add a new dynamic to the D-line. Shembo is a smart player with a high motor who never lets up. He is an excellent inside rusher.
Shembo is still a bit raw and needs to learn more pass-rushing moves. But in the fifth round, he's an excellent high-ceiling investment.
Seventh Round (No. TBD): Chris Boswell, K (Rice)
Alex Henery has had three seasons to prove he can be a reliable kicker for the Eagles. The missed field goal in the 26-24 loss to the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card Round may have cast doubt on his future with the team.
At the very least, Kelly will bring in a veteran kicker to compete with him in training camp. But most likely the Eagles will look into getting a replacement.
Henery's problem wasn't limited to just missing field goals. His kickoffs were rarely booming and touchbacks were not common. After the loss to the Saints, Kelly did nothing to express confidence in Henery going forward, according to NJ.com.
Who better to replace noodle leg than the booming leg of Chris Boswell? Boswell is possibly the best kicker available in the 2014 draft. In 2012, Boswell attempted six field goals of over 50 yards, making four.
He had a slow start to the 2013 season but finished the season with a respectable 14-of-21 on field goals. But keep in mind that three of his misses were from 50-plus yards.
If Kelly brings him aboard, Boswell can be an excellent kicker for the franchise for years to come.
Follow Yueh Ho on Twitter @YuehHo.