2011 NFL Draft: 5 Mid-Rounders the Philadelphia Eagles Could Target
With the NFL Combine kicking off today, football fans around the world are tuning in to see who could become the next big superstar.
While top-ranked players like Nick Fairley and Cam Newton are sure to get scads of media attention, there are many other prospects who are worth a look. You can bet that the Eagles have already identified their needs by position are are poised to once again build through the draft.
Their scouts will be scanning this year's class from top to bottom, searching for players to improve their defense or to add depth to their offense. Here are a few players who would fit in nicely.
Ahmad Black: Safety, Florida
Although small at 5'9", 190 lbs, Black more than makes up for his size with speed and big hits. In his four years as a Florida Gator, Black built up a reputation as a big-play guy with 13 interceptions, two forced fumbles and two sacks.
He will likely transition to corner at the professional level, and should be a big help on special teams. With Ellis Hobbs and Dimitri Patterson both likely leaving via free agency, the Eagles will need depth at the corner position and on special teams.
Black fits the profile nicely and should be a worthy target in the second or third round.
Casey Matthews: LB, Oregon
With the linebacker position in a state of uncertainty, look for the Eagles to target one early in the draft. Enter Casey Matthews, the younger brother of deadly Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews.
The younger Matthews had a phenomenal final year with the Ducks, racking up 73 tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble and three interceptions, and has been climbing the draft boards ever since. If he is still available in the third round, the Eagles would do well to bring him in, especially if they lose Stewart Bradley via free agency.
Eagles scouts have reportedly already spoken with Matthews at the Senior Bowl, so there is definitely some interest there.
Kendall Hunter: Halfback, Oklahoma State
Another player the Eagles scouts reportedly spoke with during the Senior Bowl was Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter. Although short at 5'8", Hunter possesses power running capabilities similar to that of Maurice Jones-Drew.
Hunter had a fantastic senior year and, while he wasn't much of a pass-catching threat, managed to accumulate 1,548 yards and 16 touchdowns off of 271 carries with zero fumbles. If second-string back Jerome Harrison is not brought back for a second year, Hunter would be a great option for the Eagles to snap up in the third or fourth round.
Justin Rogers: CB, Richmond
Ever since Ellis Hobbs went down with a severe neck injury, the Eagles have been lacking in both the kick return and cornerback departments. Justin Rogers has the ability to help out with both.
At 5'11", he has the ability to shut down opposing receivers and the speed to take a picked pass back to the house, as he has done several times before.
Rogers is also certainly not short on accolades. He is the second player in CAA history to be named All-CAA First Team for four consecutive years and ranks as the league's all-time leader in kick returning.
Rogers is currently projected to go anywhere from the fifth to the seventh round, so the Eagles could come away with a big steal if they manage to scoop him up late in the draft.
Brandon Fusco: C, Slippery Rock
As the first player from Slippery Rock to ever earn an invite to the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine, Fusco will be one player to keep an eye on in the later rounds.
The Eagles have already reportedly met with the 6’4", 300 lbs local product during the Senior Bowl, so they could very well be targeting him to back up Mike McGlynn.
By all accounts, Fusco is a hard worker with great leadership qualities and solid fundamentals. He even has the Gene Upshaw D-II Lineman of the Year Award in 2010 to add to his resume. Since he is from such a small school, however, Fusco will probably go no higher than the fifth round.
At that level, he would be an ideal candidate to solidify the Eagles' offensive line reserves.