Philadelphia Eagles' Initial 2014 Round-by-Round Draft Big Board
It's easy to look at a list of 2014 draft prospects and hand-pick a bunch of talents that would look good in midnight green. When the Philadelphia Eagles are on the clock, though, they'll be at the mercy of whatever their draft board has been kind enough to leave them.
The Birds are busy assembling their big board in preparation for May's draft, and while we have no real way of knowing how they will grade each prospect, by closely examining fits, needs and who their scouts have been following, we're able to get a sense of some of the players they might be chasing.
Note that this is a preliminary big board that is subject to change numerous times between now and the draft. Based on the current projections, though, this should provide an initial view of who the Eagles could be looking at in every round, starting with the No. 22 overall pick.
OLB Dee Ford, Auburn
The Eagles would love to get their hands on somebody like Anthony Barr out of UCLA, but the top outside linebackers in the draft should be long gone before Philly’s first pick. Ford will likely be the best pass-rusher available at No. 22, and that’s assuming he hasn’t already come off the board by then as well.
The Senior Bowl MVP had 14.5 sacks during his senior season but lined up exclusively at defensive end in Auburn’s 4-3. He’ll be a bit of a project, and the Birds may prefer to look for value at the position in Round 2.
NT Louis Nix, Notre Dame / NT Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota
At 6’3”, 340 pounds, Nix certainly looks the part of a 3-4 nose tackle. There are some red flags, though—nagging injuries and a decrease in production marred his final year at Notre Dame. If he falls to the Eagles, that’s not necessarily a great sign.
Hageman offers much more in the way of versatility, which will endear him to a Birds defense that mixes in hybrid looks with its 3-4. The Minnesota product possesses tremendous strength and athleticism with a 6’6”, 318-pound frame, but reports describe him as being rough around the edges.
S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama / S Calvin Pryor, Louisville
Clinton-Dix receives a ton of attention coming from the vaunted Alabama defense, and rightly so. Since declaring for the draft, though, Louisville’s Pryor’s stock has been on the rise—to the point I could see him surpassing Clinton-Dix as the consensus top safety by Draft Day.
Pryor is known for being a big hitter, but he’s also an all-around playmaker, racking up 5.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions and two forced fumbles in 2013.
CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State / CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
There is at least some debate over who is the top corner in the draft. Teams such as the Eagles that employ more man coverage might prefer Gilbert, but Dennard has been listed higher in some mock drafts—though Gilbert seems to have overtaken him in many. Both could be taken before Philly’s first-round selection, too.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
Whether wide receiver will be a priority for the team in Round 1 will depend in part on what happens with impending free agents Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper, but Benjamin’s talent might be too great to ignore regardless. The Florida St. product is expected to run in the low-4.5s in the 40-yard dash based on scouting reports and possesses a 6’5”, 235-pound frame.
OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama
Jason Peters is an elite NFL tackle, but he’s 32 and entering the last year of his contract.
Kouandjio played under Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland at Alabama, and he would be an intriguing prospect if he’s available at No. 22.
OLB Kyle Van Noy, BYU / OLB Trent Murphy, Stanford / OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech
It would be something of an upset if the Eagles don’t come out of the first two rounds with a pass-rusher given the talent they would be passing on. Van Noy could fall into their laps here, although his pass-rushing numbers took a huge dip as a senior at BYU, as he registered just four sacks in 2013.
Murphy’s stock sounds like it’s plummeting due to limited athleticism, but he’s a natural pass-rusher with 3-4 experience. Chip Kelly knows just how disruptive the Stanford grad can be, with two of his 25.0 sacks over the last two seasons coming in the school’s 17-14 win over Oregon in 2012.
Attaochu might be the most intriguing of them all. The Georgia Tech product is rising after a great week at the Senior Bowl—22.5 sacks over the past two seasons don’t hurt either. He could even potentially crack the first round.
The Birds would probably be happy to land any of these three in the second round.
WR Allen Robinson, Penn State / WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
Either of these receivers could climb into the first round, and analysts wouldn’t bat an eye. You would be hard-pressed to find two more productive players.
Over the last two years alone, Robinson posted a combined 174 receptions for 2,450 yards and 17 touchdowns at Penn State. During this same span, Matthews posted a total of 206 receptions for 2,800 yards and 15 touchdowns for a resurgent Vanderbilt squad.
They’re both 6’3” and big-time playmakers who are capable of making highlight-reel catches.
OG David Yankey, Stanford / OG Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA
Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans are both in their 30s, and Herremans in particular struggled at times at right guard.
Stanford’s Yankey and UCLA’s Su’a-Filo are the athletic type of offensive linemen that Chip Kelly prefers for his scheme and uptempo pace, and he saw a lot of each player while coaching in the Pac-12.
CB Louchiez Purifoy, Florida / CB Marcus Roberson, Florida / CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
If the Eagles don’t get a crack at Darqueze Dennard or Justin Gilbert in the first round, this could be their first opportunity to boost the talent level at cornerback.
All three of these players have ideal height and length at 6’0”. They also possess great playmaking ability and are willing to get physical in coverage or run defense.
S Deone Bucannon, Washington State
This might be a tad high for Bucannon, but Philly’s scouts showed a ton of interest in him at the Senior Bowl, per Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com. He looks the part at 6’1”, 215 pounds, and has a reputation both as a big hitter and a playmaker.
ILB Christian Jones, Florida State / ILB Shayne Skov, Stanford
Interior linebacker is an underrated need in Philadelphia. DeMeco Ryans is coming off of a great season, but he turns 30 this year and carries a large cap figure.
Christian Jones’ stock is rising, which tends to happen when you play for a national champion. He has shown tremendous playmaking ability all over the field after having switched positions a number of times throughout his career at Florida State.
Skov is yet another Pac-12 defender and is known for playing downhill and filling rushing lanes.
DE/OLB Marcus Smith, Louisville / DE/OLB Michael Sam, Missouri
Just in case the Eagles didn’t grab a pass-rusher in either of the first two rounds, they should have one last shot at some players with upside in the third.
Smith is the more versatile of the two, having played all over Lousiville’s 4-3 defense, both as an end and an outside linebacker. He was hugely disruptive, no matter where he lined up, as he racked up 14.5 sacks in his senior season.
Sam was a traditional defensive end at Missouri, but he is coming out with the “tweener” label stamped on his scouting reports and could face a position switch. He had 10.5 sacks as a senior.
CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska
Jean-Baptiste is a popular prospect these days. His size (6’2”, 215 lbs.) and athleticism naturally draws comparisons to Seattle Seahawks All-Pro corner Richard Sherman. Granted, Jean-Baptiste is extremely raw, but he should definitely be on Philly’s radar if he lasts this long.
S Ahmad Dixon, Baylor
The Eagles have the equivalent of one safety on their roster right now if we just assume Patrick Chung won’t be around come September, so the position should be addressed by the end of Day 2. Baylor’s Dixon appears to be the best prospect/fit at this point in the process.
OG Dakota Dozier, Furman
Dozier was a tackle at FCS school Furman, but at 6’3”, 312 pounds, scouts seem to believe he’ll make a better guard in the NFL. He drew positive reviews at the East-West Shrine Game, despite learning a new position on the fly, and he has the athleticism to fit the Birds’ offensive scheme and fast pace.
RB De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon
With LeSean McCoy and two competent backups already on the roster, how early is too early to draft another running back?
If Thomas lasts to the third round, the Eagles have to give serious consideration to this do-it-all back out of Oregon.
ILB Lamin Barrow, LSU
As an interior linebacker from LSU, Barrow should have little trouble adapting to the NFL. If there’s any doubt, just ask former teammate and current Eagles lineman Bennie Logan, who Barrow cleaned up after for a few seasons with the Tigers. Barrow is not a big playmaker or special athlete, but he is a solid football player.
NT Daniel McCullers, Tennessee / NT Justin Ellis, Louisiana Tech
McCullers could go higher than this purely on the basis of his incredible size (6’7”, 348 lbs.) and the fact that he played against SEC talent at Tennessee. Scouting reports, like this one from B/R NFL Draft Featured Columnist Dan Hope, read that he’s one dimensional, though, and purely a run-stuffer. It is tough to see the Eagles being interested in him any earlier than Day 3.
Ellis is another monster of a man, as he weighed in above 350 at the East-West Shrine Game and was playing at 340 pounds at the Senior Bowl. He drew rave reviews for his agility and technique at both events. Level of competition was a concern for him coming from Louisiana Tech, but he seems to have erased those concerns with his last two performances. He should continue to rise up draft boards.
DE Kareem Martin, North Carolina
Martin was an extremely productive end in UNC’s 4-3 scheme, racking up 21.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks in 2013. He is 6’6”, 272 pounds, and he is expected to run a 4.7 in the 40-yard dash, according to scouting reports, all of which begs the question why he wouldn’t go higher. The Eagles won’t ask questions if he drops to them here.
CB Jaylen Watkins, Florida
Watkins is the brother of Clemon wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who will most likely be selected within the top-10 picks of this draft, so you can imagine what kind of athlete Jaylen is. He lined up at both corner and safety at Florida, so he’s tremendously versatile. He’ll play somewhere for a lot of years in the NFL.
WR Josh Huff, Oregon
Huff’s height (5’11”) might preclude Philadelphia from choosing him, but he’s stronger than most other guys his size. He will most likely be a slot receiver at the next level, but he can also line up on the outside.
Chip Kelly knows what this kid is all about, too, although Huff didn’t have his breakout season until after Kelly left Oregon. Last season, Huff came up with 62 catches for 1,140 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior.
G Anthony Steen, Alabama
Steen played for Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland at Alabama. He doesn’t possess elite size or talent, but Steen would be ahead of the game in terms of development due to this, and he obviously fits what the Eagles are trying to do.
TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa
The Eagles have no real need for another tight end at the moment—least of all this high in the draft—but if Fiedorowicz falls to the club this late, it might not be able to help itself.
The Iowa product is 6’6” and 262 pounds, yet he is fast enough to get open down the field. Can Chip Kelly’s offense have too many productive tight ends?
(* The Eagles swapped their 2014 sixth-round pick with New England in exchange for an extra selection in the fifth round in the Isaac Sopoaga trade-deadline deal.)
QB Tajh Boyd, Clemson / QB Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
Michael Vick is determined to start somewhere in 2014, leaving only Matt Barkley to backup Nick Foles. The Eagles could sign a veteran to compete for the No. 2 job, but it might make more sense to draft somebody and continue grooming signal-callers from the ground up.
Boyd has been described as a natural fit for Chip Kelly’s offense from Day 1, largely because of his running ability. His passing leaves something to be desired, though, and after a weak showing at the Senior Bowl, the Clemson product’s stock is crashing fast. He could be available even later than this.
Thomas is an intriguing prospect out of Virginia Tech because he has both ideal size for the position at 6’6”, 250 pounds, and he runs remarkably well for being so large. Accuracy and mental makeup are a concern based on scouting reports, but he has the arm strength to make all the throws at the next level.
WR Shaq Evans, UCLA / WR Cody Latimer, Indiana
If the Eagles haven’t selected a wide receiver by this point, it’s okay—the fifth round is where Riley Cooper was selected.
Evans and Latimer are big-bodied wide receivers who know how to use their frame to box out smaller cornerbacks. Either one would provide good value this late in the draft.
DE Brent Urban, Virginia
Urban was one of the defensive linemen the Eagles were seen talking to at the Senior Bowl. He’s not blessed with overwhelming ability, but he has the size (6’6”, 298 lbs.) and strength to hold up at the point of attack and control the line of scrimmage.
OLB Kasim Edebali, Boston College
Eagles outside linebackers coach Bill McGovern previously was the defensive coordinator at Boston College before landing his current gig, so he’ll have added insight into Edebali.
Edebali has great athleticism and was a productive player in college with 9.5 sacks last season. He would be logical fit for the team at this point in the process.
CB Pierre Desir, Lindenwood
Because he’s 6’2” and athletic, Desir could go a lot higher in the draft, but playing at Division-II Lindenwood might cause him to fall. He has precisely the build the Eagles and most defenses in the league are going to be looking for, though, and he only helped himself at all-star events. Desir would be a steal in the fifth round.
CB Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma
If Colvin lasts this long—a big "if"—the Eagles should jump all over the Oklahoma product. His stock was on the rise before an ACL tear struck at the Senior Bowl, otherwise he might have gone on Day 1. He might be worth a look as high as the fifth round.
RB Dri Archer, Kent State
If the Eagles are going to come away with a running back in this draft, it should be somebody with a unique skill set. Archer looks like a poor man’s De’Anthony Thomas in that he can line up in the backfield or at wide receiver, only with less polish. He will be interesting prospect to watch late.
G John Urschel, Penn State
Urschell is smarter than he is talented, earning both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mathematics at Penn State, but he can play football, too.
PSU played at an uptempo pace under departed head coach Bill O’Brien, so Urschell should be up to the task for Chip Kelly in the NFL.
NT Beau Allen, Wisconsin
It’s Round 7, so we’re going back to the well on the “you can’t teach size” mantra. Allen wasn’t extremely productive at Wisconsin, but at 6’2”, 333 pounds, teams might as well have a look at him at the next level.
DE Taylor Hart, Oregon / DE Deandre Coleman, California
Hart played at Oregon, so naturally we’re putting him on the Eagles’ big board. He’s not an especially explosive player or gifted athlete, but he’ll understand what Philly’s defense expects from him, and the coaching staff will know exactly what they’re getting from him.
The Birds defense could still use some depth in the trenches, which the Cal product could help with.
S Hakeem Smith, Louisville / S Dontae Johnson, North Carolina State
Calvin Pryor gets all the attention and could go as high as the first round, but Smith was a four-year starter at Louisville and was named all-conference every season. His measurables aren’t as great, but he’s a solid safety whose playmaking instincts showed improvement.
Johnson actually played corner for N.C. State, but he might be too slow to play on the outside in the NFL. He possesses nice size at 6’2”, though, and that experience will help him when he’s asked to cover receivers out of the slot.