5 Prospects Philadelphia Eagles Must Consider Early in 2014 NFL Draft
The Philadelphia Eagles have a really interesting offseason ahead of them that will begin with free agency and culminate in May's draft.
What players they sign (and re-sign) will obviously dictate some of their strategy in the draft, but GM Howie Roseman is likely to be conservative and lean towards building through the draft.
Here are five prospects the Philadelphia Eagles must consider early in 2014 NFL draft. (All of these players will be taken in the first two rounds of the draft, and the Birds would be wise to get two of them.)
Kyle Van Noy, OLB, Brigham Young
Van Noy is an unbelievable athlete who has experience playing as an outside linebacker at Brigham Young. He's a really quick and fluid player who is disruptive all over the field.
While he isn't particularly strong against the run, Van Noy excels when he has the space to make a move and get into the backfield. He also has the agility to stay with receivers in coverage.
There's a lot to like about Van Noy. He's really versatile because of his athleticism, and his fast style of play would make him a quick favorite in Philadelphia.
He would fit in really well with Philadelphia's new 3-4 defense, and would push for playing time right away with the potential to take over as an every-down starter.
His stock is a bit hard to get a read on, as some have him as a mid-to-late first rounder while others have him as a mid-second rounder. Either way, Philadelphia should have at least one shot at him.
Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
This may stem from nostalgia more than anything, but Bucannon is as close to Brian Dawkins as you can get in this draft.
He's an ultra-athletic, rangy, big-hitting safety who is raw in coverage but is an absolute punisher around the ball. Philadelphia needs to upgrade their secondary all over the place, but they could especially use an intimidating presence there.
With Bucannon, you get a guy who can hit like this.
From a pure physicality standpoint, Bucannon is arguably the second-best safety in the class, and he has a really high ceiling because of that.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will be gone before the Eagles select at 22, and I don't think there's another safety good enough to warrant being taken there. It would be in Philadelphia's best interest to wait until their next pick and get Bucannon then.
Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Other than being a pseudo-hometown star already, Robinson could provide a major boost to Chip Kelly's high-octane offense.
Robinson is a guy that can make plays all over the field. At 6'3", 209 pounds, Robinson has the size and length to be a future true No. 1 receiver.
But he's also very quick and can also be effective on shorter routes and up the middle of the field. That versatility would make him perfect for Philadelphia's passing game.
Part of this pick would obviously depend on the futures of Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin. If both of them are re-signed, then Robinson would not be worth taking in the first round (he'll be gone by the second).
But if both or even just one of them walks, they'll need to take a long, hard look at this talented receiver class. The top tier wideouts, including Robinson, will be gone by the time they're back on the clock in the second round.
Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford
DeMeco Ryans was good in 2013, and his resurgence made for a nice narrative. But he will be 30 years old when preseason games start up in August, and has been inconsistent over the past few seasons.
That being said, there's good reason to think that he could need some insurance in 2014—his contract runs out after the 2015 season.
It's not a big enough need to warrant a first-round selection, but Philadelphia should start looking at options as early as the second round.
Enter Skov, who had a resurgence of his own in 2013. He suffered a brutal knee and leg injury in 2011, and was noticeably slower in 2012. But this past season he was back to his old form, and looked absolutely outstanding as the centerpiece of Stanford's staunch defense.
You can read my full scouting report on Skov here, but for a quick summary: he'd be a perfect fit in the 3-4 defense and could be a future stud on a defense starving for some intensity and leadership.
Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher simply aren't good or consistent enough to be counted on as starters for the future. Cornerback may be the biggest need for Philadelphia in the draft.
That's a good thing in a way, because there are a number of elite corners, including Justin Gilbert and Jason Verrett, but Dennard is the best of the bunch.
He's not that big (5'11", 197 lbs), but he's extremely wiry and plays a very physical game that isn't overly flashy but is unbelievably effective.
Dennard changes direction well, is strong in the air, and has the confidence to face up with anyone. He holds up against bigger receivers and is also quick enough to stay with smaller ones.
The Eagles need a true shutdown corner, and Dennard is their guy.