As the off-season slowly creeps toward the next big event, the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis from February 24 to March 2, a new round of mock drafts have hit the internet.
Three of the leading draft experts, ESPN's Todd McShay, Scout.com's Chris Steuber and The Sporting News' Russ Lande, each project the Eagles to pick a safety in the first round. However, three different safeties are listed as possible first-round targets for the Eagles.
McShay currently believes that Southern Cal's Taylor Mays is the man for new general manager Howie Roseman. Mays' stock is believed to have dropped after the Senior Bowl, when his abilities to cover were called into question. However, McShay believes Mays is the perfect fit in Sean McDermott's defensive backfield. McShay writes: "The Eagles need a replacement for the physical presence former defensive leader Brian Dawkins took with him when he left for Denver. Mays is a bit of a liability in deep coverage and he needs to learn to wrap up more consistently as a tackler, but it is hard to imagine a player with his combination of size, straight-line speed and explosive hitting falling out of the first round."
Lande, a former NFL scout, has someone else in mind for the Eagles, South Florida's Nate Allen. Also a participant in the Senior Bowl, Allen is believed to be on the cusp between the early second round and the late first round. Lande writes: "The Eagles need a safety to pair with Quintin Mikell, and Eagles coaches prefer safeties athletic enough to cover slot receivers."
Finally, Steuber projects the Eagles to take another talented safety, but someone with a bit less experience. Texas' Earl Thomas declared early for the 2010 draft as a draft-eligible sophomore, and Steuber believes he is the right fit for the Eagles at No. 24. "The loss of Brian Dawkins hit the Eagles hard in '09 and a major hole was created as FS," Steuber writes. "Thomas is a playmaker, but isn't a big hitter."
Steuber actually continues his mock draft into the second round, where he projects the Eagles to nab a coveted linebacker, Florida's Brandon Spikes. Spikes is projected by most to be picked in the middle of the first round, but Steuber believes he could fall into the Eagles' lap. "There are questions about Spikes' straight-line speed and that's why he's fallen to Philly," Steuber writes. "But on game day, he plays at a high level and is productive."
Mind you, it is not a foregone conclusion that the Eagles will select a safety in the first round. In the 11 drafts since Andy Reid took over as head coach, the highest the Eagles have ever selected a safety was in 2002 when they picked Michael Lewis in the second round (58th overall).
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 10:00 p.m., February 13