The Philadelphia Eagles own the 22nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, and there are several key positions the organization should be targeting. A big-play wide receiver may be essential if Riley Cooper is not re-signed, and a pass-rushing outside linebacker is necessary given Trent Cole’s impending salary hit.
The secondary played fairly well in 2013, but there’s no dominant defender for coordinator Billy Davis’ backfield, and there are a handful of safeties in the draft who could start on Day 1. Players like Jadeveon Clowney and Sammy Watkins won’t be found on this list since they aren’t likely to be available at pick No. 22, but these are five reasonable candidates the Eagles could take, all of whom would start in the opening week.
If Louis Nix is available when the Philadelphia Eagles pick at No. 22, they should invest their first-round selection in a man of his talent. Nix is the prototypical nose tackle who can line up over the center and require double-teams on a constant basis.
Nix is a definite upgrade over last year’s third-round pick, Bennie Logan. Logan is a bit undersized, and Nix would solidify an up-and-coming three-man front. The ideal scenario for the Eagles is that Nix becomes a similar player to Haloti Ngata while opening up lanes for his teammates to record sacks.
With Cedric Thornton, Nix and Fletcher Cox playing the defensive line, the Eagles would have solid depth in Logan, Vinny Curry and Damion Square.
The Philadelphia Eagles absolutely need to address the safety position in the offseason. The ideal scenario would be that the team adds a veteran like Jairus Byrd or T.J. Ward, while drafting a top safety in the first or second round of the NFL draft.
Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is the unquestioned best player at his position, and he would be a tremendous addition with the 22nd pick in the draft. Clinton-Dix likely won’t be around but should he still be available, the organization cannot pass on him. He is a big player (6’1”, 210 lbs) who can play against both the run and the pass.
The current safety situation for the Eagles is a mess. Nate Allen is a free agent, but he’s a borderline starter anyway. Earl Wolff was a fifth-round rookie in 2013. Patrick Chung and Kurt Coleman likely won't be back with the team. Clinton-Dix would start from the first organized practice.
Louisville’s Calvin Pryor is another safety that the Philadelphia Eagles should strongly consider. Pryor is the second-best safety on most draft boards, and he would be a lock to start the Eagles’ opener in 2014 should the team draft him.
Pryor won’t likely be around for the second round (especially with the Eagles picking at No. 22), but he’s a bit of a stretch in the first round. He’s a bit bigger than Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Pryor is a ball hawk and a hard hitter, and he would add an element of toughness to any NFL defense.
The Eagles would have to be thrilled with a player like Pryor on their roster. Pryor is similar to free-agent safety Donte Whitner, and both would be locks to start immediately for Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Eagles have a difficult decision to make in regard to both Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper. Each is hitting free agency, and the organization will have to decide whether they want to bring back both players in 2014, neither or just one of the two.
Unless both players are re-signed, Chip Kelly may take a wide receiver in the first round of the NFL draft. Kelvin Benjamin would be a terrific addition. He’s a 6’5” playmaker with terrific jumping skills, and he’s a threat to score in the red zone.
Nick Foles would have a handful of playmakers at his disposal with DeSean Jackson, Maclin/Cooper and Benjamin, plus Zach Ertz, Brent Celek and LeSean McCoy. That makes for a dangerous offense, and the Eagles should be favorites to repeat as NFC East champions with that core of receivers.
It’s unlikely Mike Evans is available when the Philadelphia Eagles pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft. Evans is NFL-ready in all aspects of the game, although speed may be his downfall, and a slow 40-yard dash could drop him in the draft.
Evans projects to be a similar player to Vincent Jackson. Nick Foles had a tremendous rapport with Riley Cooper in 2013, and Evans is much like Cooper but with significantly more talent. Evans caught 69 passes for 1,394 yards and 12 touchdowns in his final season at Texas A&M, and he hauled in multiple touchdowns four separate times.
He’s going to be a handful for opposing cornerbacks, and Chip Kelly will really enjoy having Evans on his roster.