2011 NFL Draft: 10 Players the Philadelphia Eagles Should Be Targeting

Asher ChanceySenior Analyst IMarch 30, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: 10 Players the Philadelphia Eagles Should Be Targeting

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    In every city I have ever lived in, March has marked the arrival of warm weather.  Not so in Philadelphia. In Philly, March's motto could be, "In like a lion, out like a lion."

    Friday is April 1st, and the forecast calls for a high of 40 degrees and overcast with rain.  Yikes.

    For the Eagles, though, April could be "in like a lion, out like a lamb" if they play their cards right in the upcoming NFL draft.  

    This year there is a plethora of NFL ready players who could help this Eagles team address its three biggest needs: offensive line, offensive line and offensive line.

    They could also use a playmaker on defense.

    So let's take a look at 10 players in this year's draft who could help the Eagles in their first year.

10. Marcus Cannon, Offensive Guard

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    Marcus Cannon is massive at 6'5", 350 pounds, and was a three year starter at TCU.  Despite his massive frame, he has been described as one of the best athletes at TCU during his career there.

    Cannon projects to be an early second round pick, which is what many people think the Eagles will be getting if they trade Kevin Kolb.

9. Benjamin Ijalana, Offensive Guard

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    Ben Ijalana is a 6'4", 320 pound guard from Villanova.  

    He missed out on the Senior Bowl due to a sports hernia, which means he might get overlooked by a lot of teams.  

    Ijalana may slip into the late second or even early third round, which would make him a steal for the Eagles, who have enjoyed stolen talent from Villanova in the past (see Brian Westbrook).

8. Mike Pouncy, Offensive Guard

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    Mike Pouncey, whose twin brother is the starting center for the Pittsburgh Steelers, played defensive tackle, guard and center for the Florida Gators, and made All-SEC three times.  

    He is considered one of the top interior linemen in the draft, but with a draft stocked with linemen, he could slip down to the Eagles at number 23.

7. Justin Houston, Outside Linebacker

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    Justin Houstin's projection is all over the place, with some experts putting him in the top 15, while others have him in the second round.

    From cbs.sportsline.com:

    "Houston emerged as one of the most feared pass rushers in the SEC in 2010. He had 67 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and finished second in the conference, behind Auburn's Nick Fairley, with 10 sacks.

    Houston was credited by Georgia with 44 QB hurries—three times as many as any other Bulldog defender—and was named All-SEC as a finalist for the Butkus and Nagurski Awards."

6. Tyron Smith, Offensive Tackle

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    Here is why things might fall the Eagles way in 2011: Tyron Smith is getting a lot of pub as the top lineman in this draft, but he is prototypically a tools guy, with outside size and tons of skill.  

    He is 6'5" but only 285, which seems better suited to tight end or defensive end than offensive tackle.

    If Smith is the first or second lineman taken, then that means there will be one more prototypical lineman for the Eagles to choose from.

5. Von Miller, Outside Linebacker

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    I am as against trading up as the next guy, but Von Miller looks like an elite playmaker at linebacker, a position the Eagles have been weak at since trading away Mark Simoneau (not that they were strong there to begin with).

    From USA Today:

    "Former Texas A&M LB Von Miller did not nothing to hurt the perception that he's a potential top-five draft pick with his showing at the NFL scouting combine Monday.

    Widely regarded as one of the top edge-rushing prospects in the draft, along with UNC DE Robert Quinn, Miller ran a 4.53 40-yard dash, vertically jumped 37 inches, broad-jumped 10 1/2 feet, benched 225 pounds 21 times and looked agile in on-field drills.

    Miller, last year's Butkus Award winner, seems to be a natural fit for the Buffalo Bills (No. 3 pick) Arizona Cardinals (No. 5) or San Francisco 49ers (No. 7) ... assuming he lasts that long."

4. Anthony Castonzo, Offensive Tackle

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    This 6'7", 311 pound left tackle follows in the tradition of great Boston College linemen; Castonzo is rated by many as one of the top two or three linemen in the draft, yet he still may slip to the Eagles at 23.

    From Draft Countdown:

    "Fantastic program pedigree and is the next in a long line of top BC blockers, following in the footsteps of guys like Tom Nalen, Pete Kendall, Damien Woody, Marc Colombo, Dan Koppen, Chris Snee, Jeremy Trueblood, James Marten, Josh Beekman and Gosder Cherilus.

    Is battle-tested after facing elite pass rushers such as Gaines Adams, Derrick Morgan, Allen Bailey, Robert Quinn and Da'Quan Bowers during college career and holding up well.

    Could project to either left or right tackle at the next level. Not incredibly talented or physically imposing but gets the job done as a pass protector and run blocker while overcoming weaknesses with first-rate intangibles. Not flashy but should be a quality starter in the pros for a really long time."

3. Derek Sherrod, Offensive Tackle

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    Derek Sherrod is 6'6", 320 pounds, and agreed by the scouts to have raw talent that should translate well into the NFL.  

    He might still be around by the time the Eagles are making their third pick in the draft, late in the second round after their first round pick and whatever they get for Kevin Kolb.

2. Nate Solder, Offensive Tackle

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    Nate Soulder is 6'8", 319 pounds, which means that if he can put on 20 to 30 more pounds, he will be an absolute beast.  

    Projected as a mid-to-late first rounder, Solder could be the perfect fit by the time the Eagles are on the board.

    From cbs.sportsline.com:

    "Solder's relatively slight frame worries some scouts, but others see his already solid weight-room numbers and believe he has the potential to put on another 15-20 pounds of muscle over the next few years.

    His height works as a detriment when facing smaller, quicker defensive ends, but his off-the-charts athleticism and above-average strength gives Solder a very good chance to be a long-time starting NFL tackle."

1. Gabe Carimi, Offensive Tackle

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    Gabe Carimi could be a great pick for the Eagles in this draft.  Originally projected as an early second rounder, his workouts have boosted him into the mid-to-high first round range.  

    He is a 6'7" 314 pound offensive tackle who stayed home to play all four years at Wisconsin.

    From draft breakdown:

    "Gabe Carimi is another in a line of solid offensive lineman produced by the University of Wisconsin. Taking over for Joe Thomas in 2007, Carimi has played in and started 49 games in the past four seasons.

    Carimi, the 2010 Outland Trophy winner, possesses ideal size and the type of work ethic and drive NFL teams look for. The consensus around the draft community is that he will ultimately be a right tackle in the NFL.

    While that could be the case, I may be in the minority in thinking he can play left tackle at the next level if he improves his footwork and his anchor strength. Carimi should hear his name called somewhere in the mid to late first round."