The NFL draft is creeping up on us, and mock drafts are out in full force. I’ll show you the seven players who I think stand a legitimate chance of being selected by the Eagles, assuming Andy Reid and Howie Roseman decide to stay put at the 23rd overall slot.
Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
At this point, Carimi is the most logical fit for the Eagles at 23. He fills a big need, presents good value and fits Andy Reid’s scheme perfectly. At 6’7″ and 314 pounds, his frame screams Jon Runyan, and he has the ideal skill set for a right tackle. Most analysts tab him as a run blocker, but Carimi was a very skilled pass protector as a left tackle in college. He is my top-rated offensive tackle in the entire draft, and he will be very tough to pass up should he fall to 23rd.
Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Nate Solder appeared to be well on his way to being the first offensive tackle selected. However, after the emergence of Tyron Smith and Anthony Castonzo, Solder looks like a prime candidate to experience a draft-day free fall. Philadelphia could very well be the team to end that free fall as it will undoubtedly love Solder’s 6’8″ frame.
However, Solder is merely a developmental prospect who I consider to be severely overrated. He has a ton of potential, but is disturbingly inconsistent and unsound in pass protection despite his athleticism. He cannot be counted on to start from day one, and should not be taken in the first round. I would be concerned if the Eagles took him, but I will admit that the possibility of Solder in midnight green is not farfetched.
Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
I think Jimmy Smith will be selected either by Houston at 11th overall or by Detroit two slots later. However, a lot of other mock drafts have him sliding down to the Eagles. Smith played against elite competition, and has unbelievable triangle numbers at 6’2″, 211, 4.38.
There are character concerns with Smith, though, and when I watch him on tape, there’s just something missing. He can blanket receivers, play press coverage and tackle, but does not seem to show real aggression or very good instincts.
I would compare Smith to Antonio Cromartie, who is a great cover man due to his rare combination of length and athleticism, but Cromartie does not seem to be in the right place at the right time as much as say, a Troy Polamalu or Asante Samuel. I could not argue with picking him at 23 at all.
Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
If Gabe Carimi is off the board, please don’t reach for a tackle, Andy Reid. Derek Sherrod is a decent player, but nothing really stands out that makes me believe he’s a first-round pick. He’s a finesse player who looks like he’ll need another year of development or two before he’s ready to take over a starting job.
Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple
Wilkerson was a standout at the 2011 NFL scouting combine, coming at 6'4'', 315 pounds while still running a 4.99 in the 40-yard dash. He bench-pressed 27 times and has 35 1/4'' arms. Wilkerson has been quickly rising up many draft boards.
In his junior season, the 21-year-old Wilkerson recorded 68 tackles (43 solo) and 10 sacks, an astounding number for a defensive tackle, even if it was against inferior competition. At defensive tackle, his unique athleticism allows him to bull rush opposing guards and tackles. Defending the run came easy to Wilkerson, as he could easily shed the lineman.
Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
Akeem Ayers was very disappointing at the combine, and will likely slide down draft boards leading up to the big day. I think there’s a very good chance that he falls into Andy Reid’s lap. He would fill a need, but I don’t consider outside linebacker to be a very important position in a 4-3.
I would not argue with the pick, but there are other players I would rather have. If I was planning on drafting a 4-3 linebacker in round one, he’d better be special. While Ayers can do everything well, he can’t do anything great. I don’t see him developing into a star.
Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida
Andy Reid should be very interested in Mike Pouncey because his unbelievable lateral mobility would be great for the Eagles’ screen-oriented offense. He could immediately be counted on to be the starter at right guard, and he would add stability to an offensive line that has been plagued by injuries and roster turnover in recent years.
Pouncey would be a perfect fit for Reid and Marty Morninwheg’s scheme, and I would have no problem with selecting him in the first round, despite the fact that he has no ability to play tackle.