2011 NFL Combine Results: Five Most Likely First-Round Targets for the Eagles
Now that the 2011 NFL Combine has officially drawn to a close, the draft picture is starting to come into focus.
By now, coaches and fans alike have recognized the Eagles' needs going into the offseason, but how will the team address those needs in the draft?
Here is a closer look at a few players who the Eagles could select with their first overall pick.
Gabe Carimi: OT, Wisconsin
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From draft gurus Mel Kiper and Todd McShay down to the local bloggers, nearly everyone has the Eagles selecting Wisconsin senior Gabe Carimi at No. 23.
A beast of a player, Carimi weighed in at 6'7", 314 pounds at the combine and was able to post Top 10 stats among offensive linemen in the bench press (29 reps) and vertical jump (31.5") categories.
Carimi's style of play suits the Eagles offense perfectly. He is a mauler in the mold of Jon Runyan, plus he has the versatility to play either guard or tackle.
With Winston Justice and Max Jean-Gilles/Nick Cole struggling on the right side of the Eagles line, Carimi could provide immediate help to protect Michael Vick's blind side.
Brandon Harris: CB, Miami (Fla.)
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If offensive line isn't the Eagles' biggest need this offseason, right cornerback surely is. Dimitri Patterson performed terribly last season and second-year player Trevard Lindley is simply too raw to take over the starting position opposite Asante Samuel.
Barring a draft-day trade, the Eagles won't have a high enough pick to snag top corners Patrick Peterson or Prince Amukamara. However, at No. 23, Miami's Brandon Harris would be a quality selection.
Harris had a great day at the combine, posting in the top-15 times among defensive backs in both the 60-yard shuttle (11.31) and the three-cone drill (6.77).
Deion Sanders, after watching Harris' polished combine performance, said that he thought the Miami senior was the best cornerback in drills.
Anthony Castonzo: OT, Boston College
As previously mentioned, the right side of the line is an area that the Eagles absolutely need to address during the offseason.
The first step in the repair process came when the team hired legendary offensive line coach Howard Mudd after Juan Castillo was promoted to defensive coordinator.
The second step could be selecting Boston senior Anthony Castonzo with their first-round pick.
Castonzo had a stellar combine, showing great technique in the drills. Despite having a less-than-impressive 40 time (5.21), he was able to post in the top-three times among offensive linemen in both the three-cone drill (7.25) and the 20-yard shuttle (4.40).
He also appeared polished, professional, and intelligent during his interview with the media.
With his massive 6'7" frame, Castonzo would be able to step in immediately for Winston Justice at right tackle. The only question is, will he last to No. 23 in the draft?
Nate Solder: OT, Colorado
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Early in the offseason, this 6'8" senior out of Colorado was projected to go in the middle of the first round, and certainly solidified his stance as one of the top tackles in the draft with an amazing combine performance.
He put his incredible athleticism on display, ranking as a top-five offensive lineman in the following workouts: 40 yard dash (5.05), vertical jump (32.0"), broad jump (9'2"), three-cone drill (7.44), and 20-yard shuttle (4.34).
The Eagles expressed an interest in Solder early on by meeting with him during the Senior Bowl and could easily decide to scoop him up if he falls to No. 23. However, Solder's draft stock may have risen to the point where a trade might be in order.
Jimmy Smith: CB, Colorado
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Although many consider him to be one of the top prospects in this year's draft, Jimmy Smith has drawn major character concerns over the past few weeks.
His two arrests while at Colorado, coupled with his positive drug test in 2007 and the fact that he skipped the Senior Bowl has him tumbling down the draft boards.
However, the fact remains that Smith is a quality cornerback and a very gifted athlete. He posted in the top-ten stats among DBs at the combine with a 4.46 40 yard dash, 24 bench press reps and a 4.06 shuttle time.
He has a natural advantage with his 6'2", 211-pound frame and, if he ends up with the right team, could be a quality starter for years to come.
If the Eagles are willing to take a risk on a bad egg like they did with Michael Vick, Smith is their guy. They'd just better make sure he doesn't turn out to be the next Terrell Owens.