With the 2013 season in the rearview mirror and the NFL Scouting Combine on the horizon, we have entered head-on into NFL Draft season, and with it, the yearly onslaught of mock drafts. ESPN's dynamic duo of draft experts unveiled their newest mock drafts Thursday, with one slotting an underclassman wide receiver to the Eagles in the first round and the other predicting the Eagles will address the secondary.
Todd McShay is the one who went defense for the Eagles, gifting them Michigan State senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard. Listed at 5-foot-11, 198, Dennard was a key player for the Rose Bowl champs and could fit the Eagles' preference of physical cornerbacks.
"Defense should be the Eagles' priority if the right player is available, in particular looking for an edge rusher and improving the athleticism and depth in the secondary," McShay wrote. "Dennard is a proven commodity with adequate size, good top-end speed and very good instincts and fluidity in coverage, and he was a legit shutdown corner against several opponents' top targets this season. Louisville (safety Calviln) Pryor could also be worth a look here, and other cornerback options include Florida's Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson, Florida State's Lamarcus Joyner, Ohio State's Bradley Roby and TCU's Jason Verrett."
On the flip side, Mel Kiper Jr. turned his focus to the wide receiver position, where the Eagles have a pair of impending free agents in Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin. This year's NFL Draft is said to have an abundance of receiver prospects, buoyed by a deep crop of underclassmen. One of those youngsters, LSU's Odell Beckham Jr., 6-foot, 193, was the choice at No. 22 for Kiper.
"He could show off elite straight-line speed at the combine, but he's particularly explosive out of breaks, creating separation and making him dangerous with the ball in his hands," Kiper wrote. "His speed also translates to the return game. Beckham could be a good fit in Philly not just because he's a good receiver for a team that could use help in that department, but because he's versatile, and can work in the slot or on the edge."
Meanwhile, a year ago, few linked eventual fourth overall pick Lane Johnson to the Eagles. But after an impressive rookie season in which he started all 16 games for the NFC East champions, Johnson is firmly on the NFL radar. In fact, Johnson, and neither of the two offensive tackles taken before him in last year's draft, was named to Kiper's All-Rookie team (Kiper also ranked Johnson as the 15th best rookie of the year).
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