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NFL Draft 2011: Philadelphia Eagles' Top Five Options at No. 23

Darren GrossmanCorrespondent IJune 24, 2016

NFL Draft 2011: Philadelphia Eagles' Top Five Options at No. 23

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    Well, we all know that we want a labor agreement soon so that the Eagles can trade their backup QB Kevin Kolb for a first-round pick. 

    With two first-round picks, the Eagles could trade up for an elite player or get two solid players.  For this article, I am going to assume the lockout is in place, and the Eagles cannot trade Kevin Kolb.  Therefore, I wanted to look at some likely options at No. 23, assuming the Eagles stay put.  Many mocks have them taking Gabe Carimi, a towering 6'7'' OL from Wisconsin.  Is that who they should take? 

    Scroll through and find five interesting options that could realistically be there at No. 23. 

5. OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    If the Eagles want to go linebacker in the first round, Ayers will likely be their best option.  He should definitely be there at No. 23, but it might be a little bit high to take him.  I think if the Eagles are convinced that LB is their biggest need, they will likely take Ayers.

    The pro:  Ayers' plus side is that he is an every down linebacker, and he is very athletic.  He posted solid numbers at UCLA.  His athletism allows him to make plays and he is a smart, disciplined player.  He is good in coverage and a solid tackler.

    The con:  The downside on Ayers is that he had a very poor combine, but he bounced back nicely at UCLA's pro day.  The scouting report on him also reads that he disappears at times or lacks urgency, which basically means he seems to not always be motivated.

    Overall:  Ayers would improve the Eagles LB corps which could use more athletism.  Ultimately, the Eagles don't normally take a linebacker in the first round, and I don't see them doing that here either.  Ayers would be a solid pick, but I think he is unlikely at this point.

    Chances Eagles pick him at No. 23:  SLIM

4. Danny Watkins, OL Baylor

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    We all know the Eagles could use OL help, and most mock drafts have the Eagles taking an offensive lineman in the first round.  Watkins is a versatile player that can play guard/tackle which is why he might appeal to Andy Reid.

    Pro:  Watkins is very mature, at age 26, and can play two positions.  He is a 6'3'', 310-pounder and did a great job at Baylor.  Andy Reid likes smart players, and he might be one of the most NFL ready players in the draft due to his maturity.

    Con: The Eagles were the youngest team in the NFL last year and he is 26 years old.  I'm not sure Reid would take a chance on a 26-year-old rookie.

    Odds at No. 23: Below average, if the Eagles want an OL and they feel he is the best one left, they could take him, but I think they will find better options.

3. Jimmy Smith, CB Colorado

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Pro: Jimmy Smith is 6'2'' 211 which we know the Eagles love.  They had a lot of success with Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent who were taller corners and the Eagles could desperately use a cornerback with size.  Smith is also fast, as he ran a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash.  His combination of size and speed would make him a great pick at No. 23.  Smith has a long wingspan and lots of confidence, as he has proclaimed himself a shutdown corner.

    Con: Smith has character issues, with four failed drug tests in college.  He has also had some minor brushes with the law, and he has already changed agents before the combine.  Andy Reid typically shies away from players who lack character.  However, Smith would be a great gamble at 23, as his talent is probably borderline top 10, but the character issues will make him fall. 

    Chances at #23:  Average (unfortunately).  If the Eagles go CB, Smith has to be the guy if he is still there (I think he will be).  However, knowing Reid and the kind of players he likes, I'm not sure he will take a chance on the character issues here. 

    If not Smith, Eagles could opt for CB Bradon Harris of Miami, but 23 is kind of high for him.  If they want Harris, my guess is they trade down.  Harris is only 5'9'' though, and Smith would be a much better value.

Nate Solider, OL Colorado

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    Pro: The reason I just put his number in the picture is because Soldier is enormous.  He is 6'8" and 314 pounds.  He is a great athlete; he was a tight end his freshman year at Colorado.  His athletism and agility makes him able to move around well, and he is hard to run around because he is so large. 

    Con: Not a natural offensive lineman, and a little bit raw.  He is a freak of nature size wise but also 314 pounds is not huge considering his height.  Sometimes, he has trouble with smaller rushers who have a low center of gravity.  He has to learn to bend his knees and get low.  Might be a year away from serious NFL contribution.

    Chances at No. 23: Good.  Reid would like Soldier, but honestly, I hope he is not the pick. 

Gabe Carimi, OL Wisconsin

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Pro: Carimi has confidence; he thinks he is the best lineman in the draft, and he could be right.  He did block against four potential first-round picks this season and held his own.  The high level of competition makes him seem NFL-ready.  He also has great size, 6'7'', 314.

    Con:  Scouts have noticed a flaw in his technique that some think will hurt him at the NFL level.  Many scouts question whether he will be able to be an effective NFL tackle.  The main flaw is his height can be used against him because he is often caught off balance because he lunges or leans rather than moving his feet.  It seems to be something easily correctable.

    Chances at No. 23: Most likely.  According to most mocks, this is the guy many see the Eagles taking at No. 23, if he is still on the board.  Although, other teams like him, and he may not be there.  He seems to have a total package that Andy Reid would like, so if he is there, the Eagles might take a chance on him at No. 23.

Best Pick at 23

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Despite the fact I said he is unlikely, to me, the best pick is CB Jimmy Smith.

      Reid has enough leaders on this team and very few character issues, so hopefully the mix of high character guys can keep Smith under control.  The drug/legal issues are a concern, but if Smith makes it to No. 23, the talent is too great to pass up.  A tall, physical corner opposite Asante Samuel is just what they need, and Smith would fill an immediate need and be ready to start as a rookie.

    If he is on the board at No. 23, I believe that is who the Eagles should pick. If he is not on the board, then I would take an OL. 

    Regardless, I would bet the Eagles will pass on Smith if he is there and take an offensive lineman.  My most likely guess is Carimi if he is there, but that's just my opinion.

    What are your thoughts?  Post them to the board.

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