In his most recent mock draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. projects the Eagles to select safety Taylor Mays from Southern California in the first round. However, Kiper said on a conference call that even though the Eagles could use an upgrade at safety, they don't need to address it in the first round.
"The depth (in this draft) is the defensive line," Kiper said. "That's the position where you can find players at various points in this draft that are going to help you. Wide receiver's not bad, because of the junior influence there. The safety position could be pretty good after all is said and done especially with the fact that some corners who were looked at as corners are going to project inside to safety. So those are kind of the positions where I think you will see guys slip in through the cracks and you can get some value there."
There are believed to be a slew of quality safeties that should be available after round one. Most analysts expect Texas' Earl Thomas to be picked in the first round, but Kiper believes there's a chance that Thomas could fall to the second round.
"I don't have Thomas (in the first round) right now," Kiper said. "Obviously you don't have accurate measurements on these underclassmen, remember he was a third-year sophomore coming out early. I'll tell you what; he's got tremendous ball skills, a good tackler, a big-game guy. In the spotlight games he was at his best. Remember, a lot of the best safeties went in the second round so this is a guy if you can get him in the early-to-mid-second-round I think you're getting yourself one heck of a player."
Beyond Thomas, there are players like South Florida's Nate Allen, LSU's Chad Jones, Nebraska's Larry Asante and Georgia Tech's Morgan Burnett who all project as impact players at the next level and are expected to come off the board in round two or later.
"I've liked him all year," Kiper said of Allen. "He shows the speed, in my opinion, to cover a tremendous amount of ground. Good anticipation, very good awareness. As a cover safety I think he's excellent. Not an intimidator though, there were some times when I saw him miss an open-field tackle. Overall though, fairly solid in that area. He was around the action a lot this year. I think if he runs well and tests out well, I think he's an early-to-mid (second round pick)."
Jones is another player that Kiper has liked for a while.
"Since early on he's been an outstanding player," Kiper said of Jones. "He's not as polished overall as some of the other top safeties but I'll tell you his upside potential is outstanding ... He, to me, is in that second-, third-round discussion in a year where I think the safety position is going to turn out to be very deep."
Because this draft is considered to be deep, Kiper says that the Eagles have an added advantage now that former Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage is on board. Savage was named a player personnel consultant for the 2010 draft earlier this off-season.
"Phil's strength is knowing where guys should come off the board and then pouncing on the guys at levels of the draft, or even undrafted, when they didn't come off the board when they should have," Kiper said. "(Savage) will find those guys. He'll get those kinds of value picks. Phil is phenomenal at that. In my opinion, he should have been in Cleveland. Cleveland was well on their way to developing that personnel base to where it needed to be. The personnel base increased dramatically from the time that he took over to the time that he left.
"Andy Reid knows Phil very well and I think he'll be a huge asset in terms of the Eagles drafting this year."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 10:43 p.m., February 18