Bleeding Eagle Green has decided to take part in its first ever NFL mock draft. There are some obvious needs for the Eagles heading into the 2011 season, most notably at the cornerback, offensive tackle and linebacker positions. Will the Eagles select a cornerback or a lineman in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft? There are a few factors that play into what the Eagles do with their first round pick this year, especially the current collective bargaining agreement which could bring the 2011 season to a stand-still.
While talks of a new collective bargaining agreement have begun to increase, the fact remains that the potential of a lockout is very possible. League officials have been working diligently over the last couple of weeks in an attempt to avoid a lockout, and while that is commendable many believe that both have waited entirely too long to begin talks and feel as if the season could be a loss.
Regardless of what happens there is still a draft to look forward to. If a new CBA isn't reached by the stroke of midnight on March 4 it will mean teams won't be able to trade players, which will certainly affect backup quarterback Kevin Kolb's desire to become a starter.
However, draft picks are still fair game, and with two glaring needs staring the Eagles front office right in the face, many anticipate they are going to be moving up in the first round, much like they did for the 2010 draft to acquire defensive end Brandon Graham.
With that, let’s begin to see how good, or bad, I am in my first go around in mock drafting!
Round 1: CB Jimmy Smith—6'2, 205 lbs - Colorado
The Philadelphia Eagles have a severe need to acquire pure talent to play opposite Asante Samuel. The Eagles know it, the fans know it, as well as the entire NFL. However, with the CBA negotiations at a stand-still for the current moment, there is no guarantee that there will be a Free Agency for the Eagles to land a player like Nnamdi Asomugha, Antonio Cromartie or Brent Grimes.
In addition to that, the Eagles new Offensive Line coach Howard Mudd has been a part of the NFL since 1974 and is highly regarded as one of the best coaches the league has ever seen. He has taken undrafted free agents (Jeff Saturday) and turned them into Pro Bowl caliber players, and he’s done it on a consistent basis. Now, of course it all depends on how motivated the player is.
It is said that the most depth entering the draft is along both the offensive and defensive line which should tell you one thing. If the Eagles want to land a stud cornerback coming out of college they must do so in the first round.
If they experts are correct in regards of the deep pool of talent along the lines the Eagles can still land a technically sound player in the second, possibly even the third rounds. With Mudd being the one barking commands at training camp, the sky is the limit for any rookie they bring in.
The Eagles need to find Asante Samuel’s compliment, someone who has instinctive skills in the secondary, and Jimmy Smith brings that. At 6’2, 205 lbs he has the size to keep pace with the bigger receivers in the NFC.
Round 2: OG Benjamin Ijalana—6'4, 320 lbs - Villanova
Was offensive tackle Winston Justice really that bad after signing a contract extension that would keep him in Philadelphia through 2013? I don't think Justice was the problem; the offensive guard was.
The reason I think Winston looked sloppy in 2010 was because he was trying to do to much to compensate for the lack of production from the guard.
With that being said, I anticipate the Eagles to take offensive guard Benjamin Ijalana with the 22nd pick in the second round.
Benjamin is a sensational pass blocker who effectively uses his hands and extends his arms to shadow challenging defensive ends. He also displays good footwork for the most part, which results in him keeping his man in front of him.
In addition, he showcases fantastic agility to break out of his stance and work into the backfield to fend off linebackers. This is where Winston would overwork himself because of inconsistencies at the guard position.
Ben did miss an opportunity to really display his strengths at last year’s Senior Bowl because of a sports hernia. Besides that, he has proven he is as durable as they come, starting in all 52 games of his career.
Ijalana would make new offensive line coach Howard Mudd a very happy man if the Eagles could land him on draft day. Even though Ijalana comes with a rap that he needs to improve his awareness, and also needs work on his slide-kick, these are things that Mudd can get corrected.
Round 3: ILB Lawrence Wilson—6’1, 225 lbs – Connecticut
Philadelphia Eagles weakside linebacker Ernie Sims didn’t do enough to impress the front office in 2010.
It is for this reason that most fans believe the Birds will either outright release him from the team and take it as a loss, or trade him if there is a new collective bargaining agreement by draft time.
Regardless, they need some solid competition to bring out the best in everyone!
According to most scouts Lawrence Wilson’s name could be called anywhere from the middle of the third round to the early part of the fourth. With the way scouts are raving about this kids natural football instincts, the Eagles snatch him up with the 21st pick in the third round.
In pass coverage it is said that Wilson looks more like a strong safety, and he plays like one too.
His quickness, and being known as a sure thing as a wrap up tackler, is what will attract the Eagles to make the move. He uses his hands with brute force to create turnovers, and can also step in front of passes to take advantage of a batted ball, often resulting in an interception.
His only downfall that I can find is his non-prototypical size, but with a full offseason and training camp hitting the Philadelphia Eagles facilities, he should be able to add 10 pounds or so.
Round 4: ***Eagles hold the 7th and 23rd picks in this round***
In my mock I have the Philadelphia Eagles continuing their trend to use a high and a high-mid round draft pick to secure a weak spot from the previous year. In 2010, the Eagles moved up 11 spots to No. 13 overall to select Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham.
This year, I see the same scenario for the offensive line to try and solidify a true sore spot on the team, just in rounds two and four rather than the first and third.
In the third round, and a linebacker still needed, the front office went ahead and drafted yet another defensive end, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim.
Even though I said I didn’t feel as though the offensive lines woes in 2010 were all Justice’s fault, the Eagles will still look to challenge him in training camp.
Carpenter is an exceptional athlete who showcases an impressive technique the whole way around. He does need to focus on his foot quickness at the next level, but this is another player that Howard Mudd can work with.
James is a natural left guard, but he should be able to make the transition over to the right side again, due to who is coaching the line. If you haven’t already noticed, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the new O-line coach.
That does it for my version of the Eagles mock draft for rounds one through four, the first pick in the fourth. The Eagles will have four picks within the first 110 draft choices, and can find talent to fill voids with those picks.
Will the Eagles select even one of the players I’ve selected? I sure hope so, but trying to determine who will do what without knowing what’s going to happen with free agency is next to impossible!
Stay tuned to Bleeding Eagle Green as I finalize my mock draft which includes the 23rd pick in the fourth round through round seven.
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