The NFL draft is about a month away. Pro days are winding down and we now have pretty good information on most prospects. With that in mind, I'm going to take a shot at a mock draft for the Eagles. This assumes there are no trades for any stars, whether Braylon Edwards, Jason Peters, Tony Gonzalez, Red Grange, LeBron James, Jessica Alba, or whoever the team is linked to at the moment.
1-21 - RB Knowshon Moreno - Georgia
Moreno has a good combination of size, strength, quickness and athletic ability. He would give the running game an instant boost. Moreno is adept at the screen game and would help there as well. Eagles fans would love his fiery, emotional style of play.
The obvious question is whether the Eagles would spend a first-round pick on a running back. They haven't done that in the Andy Reid era. Most fans take that to mean it won't happen. Most trends are broken at some point. This could be the year that trend disappears. The team let Correll Buckhalter leave in free agency. Recent picks Ryan Moats and Tony Hunt didn't develop as planned. There is a clear hole on the depth chart behind Brian Westbrook. A lot of fans like to point to Reid passing over Steven Jackson in the 2004 draft. Westbrook was on the rise back then and Buckhalter was coming off a strong season. There was no need for another runner. That is not the case right now. Moreno would be an outstanding addition to the offense.
1-28 (from Carolina) - CB Alphonso Smith - Wake Forest
Why would the Eagles spend an early pick on a corner? I can think of 21 reasons. (My apologies to Terrell Owens' publicist for stealing that line.) Smith isn't just any corner. He's the top playmaker available among defensive backs. He holds the ACC record with 21 career interceptions. Four were returned for touchdowns. Think about the impact Asante Samuel and his picks had last year. Playmakers are always welcome.
Smith is undersized at 5-9. That's the only way he lasts late into the first round. Don't let the size fool you. Smith is an athletic corner who can cover. If he were a couple of inches taller, Smith would be a top 20 pick. Although he might be short, Smith will hit, tackle and play the run. He is tough. He will take out the legs of a pulling blocker to force a run back to the inside. He anticipates plays better than any corner I've seen in quite a long time. There are times when he's amazing to watch. He also has great hands.
Smith would likely sit initially, like Sheldon Brown and Lito Sheppard did when they were drafted. Smith could help on special teams. He can return punts and kickoffs. He can play on the kick coverage units. He also had five blocked kicks during his career.
2-53 – TE Cornelius Ingram - Florida
I'd love for the Eagles to get Shawn Nelson or Jared Cook, but those guys won't last long in the second round. Ingram is more likely to be on the board when they pick. He's a good fit for our offense with his receiving skills and athletic ability. He has very good hands and is dangerous after the catch. He can also go up in the air and make acrobatic grabs.
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Ingram missed the 2008 season because of a torn ACL. He should be completely ready for this spring. Ingram worked out at the Combine and posted very good results. When healthy, he is a real playmaking tight end. He is a very tough matchup for defenses. Ingram is too fast for linebackers and too big for safeties. He never posted huge numbers at Florida, but that is due to sharing the ball with receivers like Andre Caldwell, Louis Murphy and Percy Harvin. Had Ingram played in a pass-happy offense without NFL type receivers he easily could have been a stat sheet stuffer. In his two seasons of extensive action, Ingram caught 64 passes for 888 yards and scored eight touchdowns.
Ingram isn't a strong blocker at this point. He needs to work on that facet of his game. He does have a good frame at 6-4 and 245 pounds. He did 21 reps at the Combine so he has the upper body strength. Ingram needs coaching and experience, but could become a solid blocker.
3-85 - WR Juaquin Iglesias - Oklahoma
I'm not sure if Iglesias will slide as far as our third-round pick, but it is possible. He'd be a good fit as a mid-round target. Iglesias has some size at 6-1 and 210 pounds. He runs in the 4.5 range, which is OK speed. He had a very good senior season, catching 74 passes for 1,150 yards and 10 touchdowns. The argument against him is that he's not special in any area. He isn't huge or blazing fast. He wasn't dominant in college. That's OK when you talk about him in the third round. Iglesias does have good NFL potential. He can make plays downfield, but also has excellent run-after-catch skills. He's very elusive for a guy his size. Iglesias has good hands and body control. He can make some really tough catches. He also has value as a kickoff returner. He averaged more than 26 yards per return and had one touchdown in his career.
Greg Lewis is gone. Reggie Brown could be trade material. Kevin Curtis will turn 31 this summer. There is a need to add another receiver to the mix. Iglesias has starting size, talent and potential. At the least, he should develop into a solid role player.
4-121 – OT T.J. Lang - Eastern Michigan
We're all a little confused about the offensive line situation. Reid won't publicly commit to anything. Part of that is him trying to keep other teams from knowing what he wants to do. I also think the Eagles aren't exactly settled on what they ideally want. As of this time, I'm assuming that Todd Herremans will be the left tackle. Shawn and Stacy Andrews will man the right side. Jamaal Jackson remains at center. That leaves left guard as an open competition for Nick Cole, Mike McGlynn and Max Jean-Gilles.
While we do have enough starters on the line, there is room for backups. Lang would be a good fit at this point to come in and backup both tackles spots. He also could play guard. The Eagles need someone that is experienced, talented and versatile. Lang is all three. One player that I thought about at this point was tackle Sebastian Vollmer of Houston. I really enjoyed watching him play and think he's a talented prospect. The problem with Vollmer is that he looks like a right tackle. I'm not sure if he could play on the left side and he's probably too tall at 6-8 to move inside to guard. With Stacy Andrews in the fold, a versatile blocker is the best way to go.
5-141 (from Cleveland) – S David Bruton - Notre Dame
Bruton would offer instant impact on special teams. He is the best gunner available in the draft. That may not sound exciting, but special teams is the area where most draft picks offer immediate help. Bruton is also a good safety. He had a terrific senior year and then surprised me with his Combine workout. The knock on him is that he isn't a gifted cover guy and doesn't have good hands. He might develop into a starter with time. At the least, he should be a core special teamer. Bruton is good value at this point.
5-153 (from New York Jets) – TE Dan Gronkowski - Maryland
Why take another tight end? Celek projects as the starter. Ingram is the backup for now. We need a third player to add to the mix. Gronkowski is a well-rounded tight end. He is mainly a blocker, but he does have good hands and can be a solid receiver. He hauled in 29 passes as a senior. He's also athletic. Gronkowski had a surprisingly good Combine workout. He should be able to factor in on special teams as well. He could end up being one of those guys who is better in the NFL than he was in college.
5-157 - DE Michael Bennett - Texas A&M
The Eagles have a deep defensive line, but one piece that would be nice to add is another end with some size. Bennett is 6-4 and 274 pounds. He isn't a gifted pass rusher. He only had 6.5 career sacks. He is athletic and has potential as a left defensive end. Bennett had 19.5 tackles-for-loss so he can make plays. He only played in four games this year because of a shoulder injury, but is healthy now. Bennett could offer the Eagles the versatility of playing outside in the base defense and moving to tackle in the nickel and dime units. His brother, Marcellus, plays tight end for the Cowboys.
5-159 (from New England) - RB Gartrell Johnson - Colorado State
Johnson is one of my favorite late-round prospects. I'm not sure what the Eagles think of him, but he is the kind of running back that I'd like to see them bring in. Johnson is a tough, competitive player. Moats and Hunt had talent, but I don't think they understood what it took to get on the field. Johnson is from Miami. Those kids are super-competitive because of all the football talent they grow up around. I think he would do whatever the coaches asked of him. The big knock on Johnson is that he's slow. Well, he is. He knows that and has developed a physical style of running. He doesn't think he's a track star. Johnson's workout numbers aren't impressive, but his game tape is.
Johnson ran for 285 yards in the bowl game and then had a strong showing at the East-West Shrine Game. He played for a former NFL coach in his senior season so Johnson knows the importance of the passing game. He caught 32 passes in 2008. Most were screen passes, but I've even seen him catch a shovel pass, a play that we have great success with.
6-194 - FB Brannan Southerland - Georgia
The addition of Leonard Weaver takes care of fullback for 2009, but Weaver only signed a one-year deal. The Eagles need to take a fullback to develop for 2010. They could always sign Weaver to an extension, but the smart play is to get a young guy to work with no matter what else happens. Southerland missed part of his senior season with a foot injury, but he played the last nine games and is healthy now. He's very athletic for a fullback. He can run, catch and block. Southerland scored 22 touchdowns and caught 35 passes in his career.
6-195 (from Minnesota) - LB Mike Rivera - Kansas
Chris Gocong doesn't have a true backup at this point. Rivera could be that guy. He has some size at 6-2 and 245 pounds. I was surprised to see his workout numbers. On the field, he showed some athletic ability, but his pro day results were really impressive. Rivera is a versatile defender. He jumped down to defensive end in some sets. He's played middle linebacker in the past. He has some coverage ability. Rivera broke up 16 passes in college.
7-230 – WR Jamarko Simmons - Western Michigan
Reid has shown an affection for big receivers over the years. Simmons is 6-2 and 231 pounds. I'd call that big. He had a great senior year, finishing fourth in the nation with 104 catches. Simmons has good hands and ran a 4.5 at his pro day. He's not the quickest guy and his challenge at the next level is to see how well he gets open. He does catch the ball well in traffic and is big enough to out-muscle defenders. Simmons could be a terrific slot receiver. Very interesting guy.
You can find detailed reports on all these players and more at ScoutsNotebook.com.