Who Are Experts Predicting to the Philadelphia Eagles in Round 1 of NFL Draft?

Andrew Kulp@@KulpSaysContributor IApril 8, 2014

Who Are Experts Predicting to the Philadelphia Eagles in Round 1 of NFL Draft?

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    Jason DeCrow

    With the NFL draft a little more than a month away, we’re well into mock draft season, and almost every football fan wants to know who the experts have their favorite team selecting. If you’re invested in what the Philadelphia Eagles will be doing this May, you’re in luck. We’ve got all the major national pundits in one place.

    We dug through 20 mocks from around the internet from some of the biggest media stars and outlets covering the draft to bring you all the results in one handy guide. Who will be holding up a midnight-green jersey alongside NFL commissioner Roger Goodell? One of the following 12 players, allegedly.

    Of course, minds are constantly changing, and by the time this publishes, we’ll probably already be inundated by 10 new mocks to alter the landscape. With only four weeks to go until draft day, though, this list should provide you with some semblance of an idea as to who the Eagles could wind up with after the dust finally settles.

Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

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    Todd McShay, ESPN.com (subscription required); Don Banks, CNNSI.com; Bucky Brooks, NFL.com; Rob Rang, CBSSports.com; Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com, via CBSSports.com

    In something of a minor upset, Bradley Roby went at No. 22 to Philadelphia in a plurality of the mock drafts that were sampled. That seems like a logical enough choice.

    Cary Williams is about to turn 30. Bradley Fletcher is entering the final year of his contract. Neither of them is a shutdown cornerback exactly.

    Fortunately, there should be some quality options at corner when the Eagles are on the clock as Todd McShay for ESPN.com explained.

    The best values at this spot for Philadelphia are going to be at cornerback -- outside linebacker and safety can wait until later, especially if the top two safeties are off the board as they are in this scenario.

    Roby needs to be coached up, as he got burned several times this season as a result of poor discipline, but his size, speed, athleticism and playmaking ability make him capable of developing into a shutdown corner on the outside.

    Roby recorded 41 pass breakups and eight interceptions in three seasons at Ohio State, returning two for touchdowns. He also timed among the best defensive backs in the 40-yard dash at the combine at 4.39 seconds.

    The one thing that might dissuade the Eagles is his size. Standing 5’11” is fine for an NFL corner, but since Chip Kelly arrived as head coach in 2013, the organization has demonstrated a tendency to pursue players 6’0” or taller in the secondary.

    Don’t rule out Roby heading to the Birds, but I’m not so sure they would even view him as the best CB on the board.

Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

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    Mike Huguenin, NFL.com

    In every instance where Roby was being mocked to Philadelphia, Kyle Fuller was still available. If the decision was between the two, there are several indications the Virginia Tech product would be the preference.

    First and foremost, NFL.com’s Mike Huguenin plainly believes Fuller is the better of the two—maybe not as purely athletic as Roby, but arguably, he's the more complete player.

    Fuller measured just a hair under 6’0”. He plays more physical and is further along in his development, having spent the full four years in school. Also to Fuller’s advantage, speed isn’t necessarily the most important skill on the perimeters in the Eagles defense, which tends to rely on zone-coverage techniques.

    Some prominent members from Philly’s coaching staff sure seemed to be taking a liking to Fuller at his pro day. DraftInsider.net's Tony Pauline (via WalterFootball.com) reported defensive coordinator Bill Davis went out of his way to introduce the young man to Kelly.

    Even SI’s Don Banks, who ultimately went with Roby to the Birds, mentioned Fuller as a distinct possibility at No. 22. Considering everything we know about the two players so far, which one do you think is more likely?

Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

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    Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com

    Darqueze Dennard is a top-20 pick in a lot of mock drafts, which means he wouldn’t be around by the time the Eagles are up. However, Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com seems to think the Michigan State product could slip after an “average” performance at the combine.

    Dennard measured in at 5’11”, 199 pounds, posted a 4.51 in the 40-yard dash and did 15 reps in the bench-press drill. None of that opened any eyes.

    Jeremiah adds, Dennard is consistent on tape, though, which is further backed up by an array of impressive accolades and statistics. The 2013 Jim Thorpe Award winner for best defensive back in college football recorded 10 interceptions and 26 pass breakups over his final three years in East Lansing.

    If Dennard is there at No. 22, by all means, the Eagles should take him. But as of now, that would be a surprising turn of events.

Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

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    Chase Goodbread, NFL.com

    This in my opinion is what you get when the mock drafter doesn’t possess a true understanding of what a particular team is looking for. Yes, the Eagles need a cornerback, but Jason Verrett has to be the least likely to wind up in Philly of all the first-round prospects.

    The reason is simple. Kelly prefers bigger cornerbacks, as evidenced by the majority of the club’s free-agent signings at the positions the last two seasons. Williams, Fletcher, Nolan Carroll are all taller than 6’0”.

    Verrett is only 5’9”, which would be tiny by any NFL team’s standards.

    Height isn’t everything, but given the plethora of cornerback talent that is expected to be available in that 20-to-30 range, it’s very difficult to believe the Eagles would settle on Verrett in those circumstances. In fact, make that almost impossible.

Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

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    Garry Jones

    Mel Kiper, ESPN.com (subscription required)

    It would be interesting to see if Kiper still believes Calvin Pryor will still be on the board by the time the Eagles are on the clock, as the famous draft analyst did over a month ago, on March 6. These days, most mocks have Pryor slipping into the teens.

    Kiper’s own write-up on the Louisville safety would seem to suggest a player who could be coveted much earlier in the draft.

    In terms of starter-worthy talent at the position, I'll say that means one down and one to go. Pryor is the obvious solution here, a player who can hold his own in coverage but will come downhill against the run and be effective in the box.

    Even after adding Malcolm Jenkins in free agency and re-signing Nate Allen, Philadelphia could stand to take another safety. It’s not quite the desperate situation it was entering the offseason, but only Jenkins really has a job nailed down. If the Eagles have a chance to add a potential starter for the next decade, they could do it.

    Pryor’s stock has been on the rise for awhile now, though. My feeling is he’s gone before this.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

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    Eric Edholm, Yahoo! Sports Shutdown Corner

    You would be hard-pressed to find many mock drafters who ever believed Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will be around this late in the draft. In Edholm’s version, the consensus All-American falls to Philadelphia at No. 22, and the Eagles scoop him up.

    I don’t see this happening at all, but if somehow it does, there might be dancing in the streets throughout the Delaware Valley.

Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

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    Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times; Pat Kirwan, CBSSports.com; Will Brinson CBSSports.com

    There’s a very strong belief Philadelphia will go wide receiver in the first round in lieu of releasing DeSean Jackson. Who better than Brandin Cooks, an apparent clone of the three-time Pro Bowler?

    It’s hard to ignore the physical similarities between the two wideouts. At 5’10”, Cooks is the same size as Jackson, while his 4.33 in the 40-yard dash is two-tenths of a second better. They’re practically identical.

    At 189 pounds, Cooks does have a little more meat on his bones. He’s also accomplished something Jackson never did, winning the Biletnikoff Award for best amateur receiver in the country in 2013.

    Cooks led the nation with 1,730 yards to go with his 128 receptions and 16 touchdowns as a junior. The Oregon State product also added 217 yards and two touchdowns rushing, not to mention he can return punts and kicks as well.

    The notion that the Eagles would automatically replace a player they outright released in his prime with his carbon copy might seem a little fishy. Why not take the opportunity to get bigger outside the numbers?

    Cooks may be another rare talent like Jackson, though, minus the attitude problems. If he lasts to No. 22, make no mistake, the Eagles will give it some serious consideration. Meanwhile, expect an increasing number of mocks to project this kid to to be a pick by the Birds as we draw nearer to draft day.

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

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    Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com; Chris Burke, CNNSI.com; Greg Gabriel and Eric Galko, OptimumScouting.com, via National Football Post

    Good to see Odell Beckham Jr. hasn’t completely given way to Cooks yet. The LSU product’s name was still called at No. 22 in the same amount of mock drafts—three—although that may likely change in the weeks ahead.

    Beckham isn’t nearly as decorated or productive, though the Tigers aren’t exactly known for their vaunted passing game, either. He still managed to haul in 57 receptions for 1,117 yards and eight touchdowns while playing in the hard-nosed SEC.

    The measureables are impressive, too. However, at 5’11”, 198 pounds with a 4.43 40-time, Cooks still seems comparable or superior in several aspects.

    As we get closer to the draft, the guess here is Cooks will continue to overtake Beckham in mocks and on real, live draft boards. Of course, if Cooks is gone and the Eagles are indeed targeting a receiver in the first, Beckham is a fine consolation prize.

Marqise Lee, WR, USC

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    Matt Smith, NFL.com

    Marqise Lee is something of an enigma. At 6’0”, 192 pounds, he’s not the biggest. Running the 40 in 4.52 seconds, he’s not the fastest, either.

    Yet despite any limitations, Lee managed to be extremely productive at USC, particularly his sophomore season in 2012 when he preceded Cooks as the Biletnikoff Award winner. His 118 receptions were tops in the nation that year, going for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns as well.

    As Matt Smith for NFL.com points out, Kelly knows as well as anybody what this kid is capable of. Lee hung 344 yards and three touchdowns in two meetings against the Kelly-led Oregon Ducks.

    Hampered by injuries and incredible instability within the program, Lee regressed in ’13. The early entrant is still expected to go in the first round regardless, perhaps even before the Eagles pick.

    Personally, I like bigger receivers (6'2" and up), so all this talk about smallish guys in the first round is a bit of a turnoff for me. A player who doesn't run well on top of that is plain irksome—but then again, it is hard to argue with those numbers two years ago.

Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA

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    Alex Gallardo

    Doug Farrar, CNNSI.com

    Philadelphia may be in the market for a guard if it can use the draft to move 32-year-old Evan Mathis. The All-Pro is reportedly on the trade block according to Ian Rapoport for the NFL Network, and while there's little argument that he's the best in the business, the Eagles understandably don’t want to grow their commitment to an aging player.

    That being said, it would still be shocking if the Eagles actually used a first-round pick on an offensive lineman for a second consecutive season. That is exactly what Doug Farrar suggests they should do if UCLA’s Xavier Su’a-Filo lasts to No. 22.

    If Mathis is indeed on his way out, there’s no better option in the draft than Su’a-Filo, one of the most physically imposing and nasty guards I’ve seen in the last decade.

    An outstanding technician, Su’a-Filo gets under the pads of defenders and rocks them back on a regular basis, frequently adding hits at the whistle to emphasize his point. He has the movement skills to play in any system, and the intelligence to pull it off at the NFL level.

    I wouldn’t be entirely opposed to moving Mathis, despite his elite status. He’s already the oldest starting guard in the league, which means decline is right around the corner. The opportunity to add more picks in this year’s draft—one of the deepest in recent years—sure is enticing as well.

    Still, this seems high for a guard. Maybe I’m not over the Danny Watkins debacle of 2011 after all.

Louis Nix, NT, Notre Dame

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    Eric Galko, OptimumScouting.com, via Sporting News

    While many folks entered this offseason thinking the Eagles might be searching for a huge nose tackle to anchor their 3-4 defense, all indications from the front office so far suggest that won’t be the case. For that reason, among others, you can probably forget Louis Nix going to Philadelphia in the first round despite projections.

    Turns out, the Eagles sound quite happy with Bennie Logan as the centerpiece of the defensive line for the time being. A third-round pick out of LSU last year, Logan acquitted himself well in the second half of his rookie season. According to Reuben Frank for CSNPhilly.com, the team believes he can get up to 320 pounds, which is plenty large.

    The Eagles do need defensive-line depth, just not necessarily in the first round. If Nix were the best player on the board here, that would be one thing, but the regression and nagging injuries that plagued his final season at Notre Dame are yet more causes for concern.

C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama

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    Charles Davis, NFL.com

    If general manager Howie Roseman is sticking to his “best player available” strategy and a potential top-10 talent is still on the board at No. 22, the pick is a no-brainer. Welcome to Philadelphia, C.J. Mosley.

    The 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year and Butkus Award winner for best linebacker in the nation, Mosley isn’t the flashiest player. Yet at 6’2”, 234 pounds, he certainly has the look. A highly decorated player out of the Alabama football factory, he’s got the pedigree too.

    Most of all, Mosley has the athleticism to be an every-down player and tone-setter in the middle of the defense. He has the range to defend the run from sideline-to-sideline, as well as the length and athleticism to drop into coverage.

    Interior linebacker isn’t considered the Eagles’ greatest position of need, but then there could be an opening as early as next season. Scheduled to become a free agent in 2015, DeMeco Ryans turns 30 this year, and his $6.9 million salary is becoming prohibitive for a player who is arguably miscast as a three-down player at this stage of his career.

    Mosley could take over the starting job by next year. In the meantime, he could serve as Ryans’ replacement in obvious passing situations.

    And who better to learn from than a fellow Alabama alum with two Pro Bowls under his belt?

    If Mosley managed to make it to No. 22, he’s a perfect example of why NFL teams should never draft exclusively for need. There may be a defensive back or wide receiver who would fill a more immediate hole, but Mosley would be too good to pass up here.

    All combine results via NFL.com.