With the start of the 2011 NFL Draft less than two weeks away, news continues to pour in regarding this year's prospects. Every aspect of a player, from his 40-yard dash time at his Pro Day, to his ability to conduct himself in a team interview, can greatly influence his draft stock.
Keeping a team's draft board up to date is a constant process, as revisions keep becoming necessary due to new information being released. As such, followers of the game must constantly make revisions to their mock drafts in order to keep up.
As evidenced in this particular mock, changing even one pick can create a ripple effect throughout the remainder of the team's draft. Taking into account the reports of the past few days, the Philadelphia Eagles draft just became a little more interesting.
Take a look at these ten players who could be packing their bags for Philadelphia soon.
According to the report, Jimmy Smith's character concerns, which had previously kept him from becoming a target for teams in the 10-20 pick range, are fading away. This means that if the Eagles are sticking with their 23rd overall pick, they will have to address another one of their top needs, as Smith may no longer be available.
Enter Smith's teammate at Colorado, offensive tackle Nate Solder. Similar to Jason Peters, who is unarguably the Eagles' top offensive lineman, Solder got his start in football as a tight end. After his conversion, the 6'8" 319 monster of a tackle climbed to the top of the draft class by excelling in pass protection.
In the pass-happy offense that Andy Reid has implemented in Philadelphia, Solder would be able to provide an immediate boost.
With their offensive line needs mostly fulfilled, the Eagles will need to turn their sights to the defense. The Philadelphia secondary was one of the weakest points on the team last year, with the tandem of Ellis Hobbs and Dimitri Patterson falling on their faces whenever they had to cover a top-tier receiver.
One of the cornerbacks the Eagles have shown the most interest in so far has been Curtis Brown out of Texas. The Eagles invited him to a private workout in early April, likely attracted by his good combine performance.
At 6'0" 185 pounds, Brown possesses both the size and speed to develop into a quality starting cornerback. While he doesn't have many off-the-charts stats, Brown is an all-around good football player with above-average ball skills and the ability to stick to his man. With a 39.5" vertical leap, Brown ranks at the top of the cornerback class, and can effectively bat away balls from taller receivers.
Brown will be able to step in immediately with the Eagles, although he may need a season working as a nickel corner before he becomes a full-time starter.
With Ernie Sims, Akeem Jordan and Omar Gaither on the chopping block for the Eagles, the team will need an early addition at linebacker to fill out the depth chart.
UConn's Lawrence Wilson presents an enticing option for an Eagles squad that has struggled on special teams. A highly durable and experienced linebacker, Wilson uses his speed to keep himself near the ball at all times.
At only 229 pounds, Wilson will need to bulk up and add muscle if he expects to take on a starting role. The tools are there, however, and in the meantime, Wilson will be a big asset to Bobby April's special teams unit, in addition to helping out the defense as a weakside linebacker on passing downs.
The Eagles have already expressed a fair amount of interest in Wilson, inviting him to Philadelphia for a private workout in late March.
With Quintin Mikell's return remaining a big question mark and Nate Allen recovering from a season-ending knee injury, the Eagles will need to add depth at safety.
Local product Jaiquawn Jarrett has already piqued the interest of the Eagles front office, getting a private workout with the team in late March. The four-year starter had a stellar Pro Day, leading The Sporting News to dub him as "one of the most underrated players in the draft."
Although he doesn't have the ideal size at 6'0" 196 pounds, Jarrett makes up for it with excellent football instincts and a high level of durability, a quality highly appreciated among Eagles fans.
Although he won't immediately crack the starting lineup, Jarrett has the tackling and man coverage skills to help out as a third safety and as a special teams contributor for his first few years in the league.
Although the Eagles would love to have Jerome Harrison back after a solid 2011 season, there is a good chance that he could seek a starting position elsewhere. The team will need to bolster the depth behind LeSean McCoy, as special teamer Eldra Buckley has previously shown that he cannot handle the workload.
Enter Hawaii's Alex Green, who the Eagles brought in for a private workout back in early April. The large-framed Green weighs in at 6'0", 225 pounds, yet manages to elude defenders effectively after bursting through the line. He was reportedly very impressive showing off his cutting skills during Hawaii's pro day.
If he were drafted, Green would provide an excellent complement to LeSean McCoy for use in red-zone and short-yardage situations, two areas where the Eagles could use improvement.
A high-energy kind of guy, Matthews has the finesse and hand skills necessary to be a valuable pass-rush specialist. He also has the ability to drop back into coverage, making him more of a hybrid DE/OLB in Juan Castillo's defense.
Matthews has all of the intangibles: high ceiling, great attitude, nonstop motor and a killer work ethic. The only catches are that he is a bit undersized at 257 pounds and that he is coming off of a shoulder injury from his 2010 campaign.
Still, Matthews is the kind of low-risk, high-reward signing that the Eagles would jump on in the fifth round. If developed properly under defensive line coach Jim Washburn, Matthews could develop into a valuable asset to the team.
For all of the quarterbacks that the Eagles have scouted during the 2011 offseason, there is a good chance that they will select one in the later rounds of the draft. Although the team already has three quality quarterbacks on the roster, they will need to add depth, especially now that Mike Kafka appears to be on the market in addition to Kevin Kolb.
Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor has already drawn comparisons to Michael Vick, and rumor has it that the rejuvenated NFL superstar has taken Taylor under his wing. The Eagles themselves have expressed an interest in the speedy quarterback, inviting him in for a visit during late March.
Much like Appalachian State's Armanti Edwards of last year's draft class, Taylor has the speed necessary to be evaluated as a wide receiver in addition to quarterback. However, in a February interview with Pro Football Talk, Taylor insisted that he was a one-position guy:
“Teams are grading me at quarterback and I’m getting good feedback from that. I’m a quarterback and I’ve been playing this position since I was five. No other position...I think some people see my athleticism and think I should play another position. I think I have everything I have to be a quarterback.”
Ever since the days of Randall Cunningham, the Eagles' offense has revolved around a mobile quarterback who can take off with the ball if his receivers don't give him an option. Taylor certainly fits the mold well enough to merit a fifth round pick.
With Jamaal Jackson coming off his second season-ending injury in two years, the Eagles will need to bolster their depth at the center position.
Brandon Fusco out of Slippery Rock has been in the Eagles' sights since the Senior Bowl, eventually receiving an invitation to a private workout with the team on April 4th.
At the NFL combine, Fusco was able to flash his athletic ability with a 5.18 40 time and 28.5-inch vertical leap. He has been on a roll since the Senior Bowl and, as he showed in an interview with the New York Daily News, has no reservations about going the extra mile to prove himself:
“Coming from a smaller school, everybody’s expecting a lot more from you. I have to be not just up to par. I need to excel beyond them. At the combine, it showed. I was very prepared. I was really happy with my performance and I think it really opened a lot of eyes with the scouts.”
Although he is ranked among the top options at center in the 2011 NFL draft, Fusco's small-school status will likely keep him available until the later rounds.
With the tight end position very thin behind Brent Celek, the Eagles will need to add a blocking tight end in the later rounds of the draft.
Dubbed the "only true blocking specialist" of this year's tight end class by the Chicago Tribune, Lee fits the description of what the Eagles should be seeking. Although his passing game is a bit unrefined, Smith can still handle the short, underneath passes that would make him valuable in short yardage situations.
Smith aggressively uses his 6'6" 266 pound frame to block effectively, showing a mean streak in his play. He has a very high motor and, if he lasts into the seventh round, will be a steal for the Eagles.
Virtually an unknown out of the tiny University of Richmond, linebacker Eric McBride has been flying under the radar of many teams and will almost certainly be available for the Eagles' final draft pick.
A high-character guy, McBride was snubbed from the NFL Combine, but put on a terrific Pro Day in front of several NFL teams. He has the versatility to play both linebacker and fullback, but creates his biggest plays at the linebacker position, racking up 128 tackles last year.
McBride has made a big impact on not only the Richmond football squad, but also the entire CAA conference. His long list of superlatives include earning CAA Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2007, getting selected to the All-CAA First Team squad in 2007-2009, and finishing his college career with the CAA Defensive Player of the Year award.
McBride was also a part of the 2008 NCAA Championship team, which marked the Spiders' first ever national championship.
Although a small D-1AA school, Richmond has produced several NFL players in recent years, including Cardinals RB Tim Hightower, Falcons DE Lawrence Sidbury and Panthers RB Josh Vaughan. McBride has a good chance of becoming the next Spider to hit the professional level, so the Eagles would do well to take a flier on this sleeper.