5 Names Every Eagles Fan Should Know Before the 2014 Draft
With the NFL draft just a few days away, this is the time for fans to start doing some last-minute research. The Eagles have many holes, and there are several different directions the team could go in on Day 1.
The Eagles are currently in possession of the 22nd overall pick. If a can't-miss player is available by the 15-20th picks though, it is possible the team could potentially move up.
All Eagles fans should keep their eyes on these five players during the first round of the draft. While some of them are projected to go well before 22nd or 15th overall, every year there are players who slide farther than most project.
These five players would be an excellent fit for the Eagles if they have the opportunity to select them.
1. Mike Evans (WR)
The Eagles have a clear interest in Texas A&M's Mike Evans. He has worked out with the team, according to ESPN's Andy Jasner. While Evans will likely go in the top 15 or even top 10, Chip Kelly's interest in him is warranted.
Few players possess Evans' combination of size and hands. He is lethal catching passes over the shoulder and has incredible body control. Evans does not have the best route-running, but he could translate into a Vincent Jackson or Alshon Jeffery-like player in the NFL.
2. Calvin Pryor (S)
Even with Malcolm Jenkins, the Eagles still need help at the safety position. Nate Allen is adequate, but not much better than that. Jenkins is a playmaker, but not consistent. He missed 16 tackles in 2013, according to Pro Football Focus.
The Eagles need a reliable physical presence in the secondary. That player could be Calvin Pryor. Pryor is a punishing safety who hits harder than anyone else in the draft.
A player like Pryor could add some much-needed toughness to the defense. He would be the perfect player to pair alongside Malcolm Jenkins.
3. Anthony Barr (OLB)
Anthony Barr is another player the Eagles have shown interest in, according to Ross Jones of Fox Sports. Barr has visited with the team, and should he fall beyond 15th overall, it's likely the Birds would select him.
Barr is a very talented pass-rusher. He has incredible balance, speed and acceleration. He could provide an instant spark to the Eagles pass rush, which currently is too reliant on an aging Trent Cole.
The only drawback for Barr is he's a little lacking in run defense and coverage. But an elite pass-rusher is desperately needed if this team is to improve its 32nd-ranked pass defense.
4. Justin Gilbert (CB)
Justin Gilbert is another player who the Eagles will need to hope falls to the second half of the first round. If there is a run on quarterbacks or a run on wide receivers, the Eagles may very well nab a player of Gilbert's talent.
Gilbert turned heads at his pro day, according to Rob Rang of CBS Sports. He excelled at positional drills, which coincides with his excellent game tape. Gilbert not only gets picks, but he is also athletic enough to return them for huge gains.
The Eagles lack a dominant playmaker at cornerback. Gilbert could help force turnovers, and possibly even develop into a shutdown player. He would also be valuable in special teams as an electrifying kick returner.
5. Zack Martin (OG)
Zack Martin is unfortunately the only offensive guard projected to go in the first round, but he is a good enough player to be worth it.
Martin is athletic, shows good technique and bends his knees well. He played tackle in college and will have to move to guard due to his short arm length. But with his talent, there's no reason to think he won't succeed.
This draft is filled with great skill position players. A run on quarterbacks or receivers is possible. If the earlier mentioned players all fall off the board, Martin should be very high on Kelly and GM Howie Roseman's list.
He may not be the flashiest pick, but the Eagles cannot forget their need for depth at offensive line. Todd Herremans is not reliable in pass protection, and Evan Mathis is 32 years old. The team will need to acquire talent at guard sooner or later.
Follow Yueh Ho on Twitter @YuehHo_BR
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