2011 NFL Draft: 15 Players the Philadelphia Eagles Should Target (With Videos)

Michael MillSenior Analyst IIIApril 3, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: 15 Players the Philadelphia Eagles Should Target (With Videos)

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    It's finally April, which means that the the NFL Draft is now less than a month away.

    It's something fans can finally start looking forward to, thanks to an otherwise boring offseason sprouting from the current lockout.

    Also, thanks to the lockout, teams have not been able to conduct business as usual. This means no trading or free agency.

    The lockout is indirectly having a huge impact on the NFL Draft, especially for the Eagles.

    The team can't trade away quarterback Kevin Kolb, which could land them a first-round pick, and they can't target free agents like cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha who could fill important needs for the team.

    This makes things very unpredictable at this point. The team could take many different approaches on draft day.

    Here are 15 players that the Philadelphia Eagles should target in the 2011 NFL Draft.

15. Jeron Johnson (SS, Boise State)

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    Projected Round: Fifth-Six

    One of the many effects the lockout has had on the Eagles involves the safety position. Strong safety Quintin Mikell is now a free agent, and the team is unable to resign him.

    Even if they could, many believe that Mikell may be done in Philadelphia.

    Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman as the two guys that would probably take the field at safety next season. However, both are young and there is little depth behind them.

    Jerrod Johnson could provide a little depth as a late round pickup.

    The main knock on Johnson is that he is undersized to play safety.

    What he lacks in size, he makes up for in speed and aggression. He also possess a knack for being around the ball. He led Boise State's defense in tackles his sophomore, junior and senior season.

    Plus, Johnson isn't afraid of a little contact. Check out the video for proof.

14. Buster Skrine (CB, Chattanooga)

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    Projected Round: Third-Fourth

    The NFL scouting combine is not a way to judge talent.

    However, it is a valuable source to find and begin to evaluate talent.

    After Buster Skrine's big day at the combine, many teams probably went back to watch tape on him.

    What they found may have improved his draft stock dramatically.

    Skrine plays just as fast as his 40-yard dash time would suggest. He plays with an aggressive nature that reminds me of Asante Samuel, although Skrine doesn't shy away from contact. He is a rare physical talent.

    He can play off-coverage, press and can even play in the nickel.

    That's where Skrine could find his home in Philadelphia. Although he may not be the player to take the role opposite of Samuel, Skrine could take Joselio Hanson's spot in the nickel.

13. James Brewer (OT, Indiana)

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    Projected Round: Third-Fourth

    James Brewer is an intriguing prospect in the third round.

    His collegiate career at Indiana has been riddled with injuries. My experts believe Brewer could have went as high as the early second round if it wasn't for the injuries he sustained.

    When Brewer was healthy, he was easily the best pass protector on the Hoosier's roster.

    He has great athleticism for his 6'6" frame and the obvious strength to go with it.

    If the Eagles are willing to take a chance on a player who has a history with injuries, which they usually are, then Brewer could be a prospect to keep an eye on.

    (No video available. If you have access to one, please inform me in the comments below)

12. Mason Foster (LB, Washington)

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    Projected Round: Third

    One of the most overlooked areas of need on the Eagles' roster is at linebacker.

    Ernie Sims is likely done in Philadelphia. That leaves Jamar Chaney, Moise Fokou, and Sam Bradley at linebacker.

    The Eagles need to add some depth, if not a player that could start. Andy Reid has never been one to value the linebacker position, so chances are the Eagles won't spend any more than a mid-round pick on one.

    One guy that could be a nice steal is Mason Foster.

    Foster won't "wow" anybody with his athleticism, but he is a tough and instinctual player.

    During his time at Washington, Foster racked up 372 tackles, six forced fumbles and four interceptions.

11. DeAndre McDaniels (SS, Clemson)

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    Projected Round: Third

    Maybe it's because he has said that Brian Dawkins has always been his idol, but I have a lot of love for DeAndre McDaniel.

    Even though he is the top-ranked safety in this year's draft class, he is still expected to be around in the third round.

    McDaniel played down in the box a lot in college and did not run a very impressive time at the combine.

    However, on tape, he seems to have the speed needed to be a good player on the next level.

    His intelligence on the field shows, and maybe that is why it appears he has speed. He puts himself in great positions to make plays.

    His 15 career interceptions and 275 tackles are proof of that.

10. Ras-I Dowling (CB, Virginia)

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    Projected Round: Third

    Ras-I Dowling is another player who would be a much higher projected pick if it wasn't for injury concerns.

    Dowling played in only five games his senior season, battling leg injuries throughout the entire year.

    At the combine, Dowling ran an impressive 4.40 second 40-yard dash, but then had to sit the rest of the day with a hamstring injury.

    If he could stay healthy, Dowling could be a great steal for any team. He has good size for a cornerback at 6'2" and 200 pounds.

    He has good ball skills and impressive speed to go along with the size.

    If Dowling slips into the third round, this is a pick I'll be hoping the Eagles make a move on.

9. Bruce Carter (LB, North Carolina)

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    Projected Round: Second-Third

    Coming into the 2010 season, Bruce Carter was one of the top prospects in the nation.

    Then he got the injury bug. He recently had ACL reconstructive surgery on his left knee in December.

    Carter is one of the most talented physical athletes in the draft. He often draws comparisons to Aaron Curry and Keith Rivers from recent draft classes.

    Carter had 215 tackles, three interceptions and a forced fumble in his four years at North Carolina.

    If there is one thing that the Eagles organization will not back away from, it's a player coming off of an ACL injury. Just look at their recent history for proof.

8. Marcus Cannon (OG, TCU)

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    Projected Round: Second

    It doesn't matter if the help comes at right guard or right tackle, the Eagles just simply need help on the right side of their offensive line.

    Due to his massive size, 6'5" and 360 pounds, Marcus Cannon will likely play offensive guard in the NFL.

    Cannon is a very athletic and nimble player, especially considering the extra size that he brings to the table.

    He was the key product in an offensive line that ranked seventh allowing only 0.75 sacks per game in 2010.

7. Ben Ijalana (OG, Villanova)

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    Projected Round: Second

    Ben Ijalana was an absolute dominant force at the FCS level at Villanova.

    Unfortunately, because he was playing at Villanova it's a little hard to evaluate the actual talent level. He had the opportunity to help his stock at the Senior Bowl, but didn't get to play due to a sports hernia.

    With this in question, Ijalana is expected to play guard at the next level.

    He has proved to be an exceptional pass blocker, and throws defensive lineman of the line in the running game.

    The Eagles may want to snap him in the second round. Especially, if he does have the capability to play both guard and tackle.

6. Jimmy Smith (CB, Colorado)

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    Projected Round: First-Second

    I'm still not completely sure how I feel about Jimmy Smith.

    He shows signs of brilliance at times. However, there are occasions where he looks sloppy and lazy. There are legitimate character concerns that come with him as well.

    Smith shows he has the obvious skills to be a shutdown corner. He is big, physical, and has great speed to back it up.

    Smith probably has the talent to be a Top 15 pick, but with the character concerns, he will likely slip to the end of the first round or even into the beginning of the second round.

    If the Eagles feel comfortable with the answers Smith likely gave at the NFL Combine, he will undoubtedly be a top talent if he remains available at the 23rd pick.

5. Brandon Harris (CB, Miami)

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    Projected Round: First-Second

    If the Eagles don't feel comfortable going after Jimmy Smith, then Brandon Harris will certainly get the team's attention.

    At only 5'10" and 190 pounds, Harris ran a disappointing time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. However, his 4.53 second time is still tolerable.

    Particularly because Harris plays a lot faster than that on the field.

    He is aggressive, fast, and demonstrates ball skills that are better than most of the cornerbacks in this year's class.

4. Anthony Castonzo (OT, Boston College)

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    Projected Round: First

    Anthony Castonzo could be the top offensive lineman in this year's draft.

    However, it seems many teams are going to overlook him due to his lack of size. At 6'7" and 310 pounds, NFL scouts are concerned that Castonzo will get pushed around by lineman in the NFL.

    It was his small frame that left Castonzo with zero scholarship offers coming out of high school. As a walk-on, he turned himself into a top prospect in the NFL Draft.

    Not only did he impress as a walk-on, but he was talented to start immediately. Castonzo played 53 games at Boston College, which ties the school's all-time record.

    Philadelphia linemen always seem to struggle with durability, maybe a guy like Castonzo could ease those woes.

    Castonzo has the mind of a winner. He wants to be the best in everything he does. That's somebody that I would want protecting Mike Vick.

3. Tyron Smith (OT, USC)

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    Projected Round: First

    While Castonzo is my favorite tackle in this year's draft class, Tyron Smith is the tackle on the top of most expert's draft boards.

    If the Eagles ended up with Smith instead of Castonzo, I can't say that I would be the least bit disappointed.

    Smith is better at pass blocking, which is primarily what the Eagles would be looking for. He is a gifted athlete, which is obvious by his sculpted frame. He started 24 career games at USC, all at right tackle.

    However, he may lack the bulk to play right tackle in the NFL. If the Eagles were to take him, he would likely have to play the left side and Peters would have to shift to the right.

2. Prince Amukamara (CB, Nebraska)

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    Projected Round: First

    Obviously, the chances of Prince Amukamara being available at the 23rd pick are the same as you winning the lottery tomorrow.

    This would be a guy the Eagles would have to trade up for to acquire. If the lockout ends, and the team can trade, Kevin Kolb could land the Eagles a high draft pick.

    Probably high enough to land Amukamara.

    Some experts consider Amukamara the best shut-down cornerback coming out of this year's class. He possesses the perfect blend of size, speed and strength to be a press coverage corner in the NFL.

    His great instincts and reactions landed him 60 tackles and five interceptions during his junior season.

    He followed that with no interceptions in 2010, primarily because teams were afraid to throw in his direction.

    Amukamara has the skills and attitude to be top flight cornerback in the NFL over the next decade.

1. Patrick Peterson (CB, LSU)

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    Projected Round: First

    On most draft boards, if you look all the way at the top of the list you will find Patrick Peterson's name.

    That will obviously make it very difficult for the Eagles to land Peterson. However, that doesn't mean it can't be done.

    If the team can trade Kolb, there have been rumors that the Arizona Cardinals would be an interested team. At the fifth overall pick, Philadelphia could be in a position to make a move for Peterson.

    I think it goes without saying, that to be at the top of most draft boards you need to be a gifted athlete.

    At 6'0" and 220 pounds, many scouts were afraid Peterson would have to change to safety in the NFL because he would lack the speed needed to play on the outside.

    At the combine Peterson ran a 4.34 second 40-yard dash time. That's quicker than any wide receiver ran.

    Peterson is a rare talent, and in a few years, he could find himself listed amongst the best cornerbacks in the league.