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Mayock: Options Aplenty For Eagles’ D

Posted Feb 20, 2013

For the first time in nearly 15 years, the Eagles hold a top-five pick in the NFL Draft. With uncertainty on the Eagles’ roster and no real consensus as to where this year’s top prospects will land, who the Eagles will draft with the No. 4 overall pick is very much up in the air.

In a conference call with reporters, NFL Network analyst and Philadelphia native Mike Mayock broke down the Eagles’ needs and how head coach Chip Kelly and his staff can bolster the team’s roster. Let's get his take on the defense ...

When asked what the Eagles might do with their top pick, Mayock started with the secondary. It’s a position in flux for the Eagles – cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is scheduled to become a free agent, and fellow starter Nnamdi Asomugha has not performed as advertised. But Mayock believes there may be immediate help for the Eagles in the top half of the draft. One popular selection among pundits is Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner.

"I really like him," Mayock said of Milliner. "I think he's a heck of a football player and I think he'd be safe. But I don't think he's that explosive 4.35 kind of 40 (yard dash) guy. If they took him, I'd be okay with that because he's a solid football player, but I think it's a little high for him."

Mayock was much higher on this year’s safety class, another area at which the Eagles could certainly use an infusion of talent. Because the talent pool at safety is deep this year, Mayock believes the Eagles could grab a quality player later in the draft.

"This is one of the best safety classes I've seen in years," he said. "I think the Eagles are going to get a chance to get a safety in the second or third round, and that's important. They need a safety badly."

The Eagles are going to use a versatile defensive scheme under coordinator Bill Davis, which means they will be looking for a different kind of defender than fans in Philadelphia are used to seeing. Mayock believes Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman are savvy enough to analyze their own players before deciding to bring in new blood.

"My first question would be, 'Is Antonio Dixon going to be my guy at nose tackle?'" Mayock said. "If he thinks he's healthy and has gas in the tank, I think he could be a nose tackle. So that's my first question. ‘How do I feel about him?'

"At the five-technique, the two defensive ends, Fletcher Cox is a natural fit. Cullen Jenkins, I liked him better in the 4-3, to be honest, than 3-4, but he's got natural pass rush ability. And you look at the outside linebacker, and you're looking at guys like (Brandon) Graham, Trent Cole, Vinny Curry (who) to me would be better in the 4-3. He could probably do it, same with Phillip Hunt."

If the Eagles do decide to draft a pass-rushing linebacker, Mayock suggested one of Kelly’s former pupils.

"I kind of like (Oregon linebacker) Dion Jordan, who I think is two years away from being an Aldon Smith-type player," Mayock said. "He's only about 240 pounds, but he's 6-7. He's got frightening athletic skills, and he's a year away. He would be a situational pass rusher year one, and if he puts 20 pounds on, I think he's going to be a perennial All-Pro. I really like the kid. But, again, that's a little bit of a risk/reward. You're betting on this kid two years from now."

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