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Meat Of Draft Depth Is Here

The word among the draft's talent evaluators leading into this weekend was that the strength of this draft was the depth in key positions, far beyond the first round.

So here we are, and the Eagles are poised to make some noise with three draft picks in rounds two and three – No. 54 overall in the second round and Nos. 83 and 86 in round 3. This is such a critical night for the team, and the Eagles have prepared for months for these two rounds.

Where do they go? What do they do with the picks? There are still needs for every phase of the roster. The Eagles want competition and they want depth and they want to expand the young core built largely from the drafts of 2012 and 2013.

By taking Louisville's Marcus Smith in the first round, the Eagles added a high-energy edge linebacker who can run the passer, play physical football against the run and drop in coverage. It remains to be seen how the Eagles use him – is he more of a downhill edge pass rusher in the mold of Trent Cole, the "Predator" in this defense, or is he more along the lines of the "Jack" in the defense, Connor Barwin, who is asked to use every tool at his disposal during the course of the game. They can move Smith once they know what he can do in the defense, how much he can handle mentally and physically.

You can look up and down the roster and see areas to which the Eagles can add. What's particularly exciting is that the Eagles have the opportunity to add players in the second round who had first-round flavor heading into the draft. Even better, by adding the 83rd overall pick in the draft thanks to the first-round trade with Cleveland, the Eagles have some flexibility to move up and zero in on a targeted player, stay where they are with the three picks, or move back and add even more selections for the third day of the draft, during which the quality won't dip until much later than in recent years.

What's on the wish list for the Eagles? They don't talk about things outside of the draft room, so it makes no sense to say, "The Eagles must get Position X" in the second round." It's a silly notion. Just keep adding quality talent and make the roster as deep and as good as it can be.

General manager Howie Roseman wants to stay true to the draft board, rather than straying off course for the sake of a positional need. There are no glaring needs here, and the Eagles believe they have done enough retaining players on the roster from 2013 and adding a handful of others in free agency and in trades to bolster some key spots.

Tonight is the meat of the draft. The first round is the marquee 32 picks and most of the draft's "names" go off the board. There are still a lot of outstanding football players remaining, which is why a look back at the 2014 draft in a few years will indicate which teams did the best work in rounds two and three.

There are as many as 10-12 wide receivers on the board that have at least been mentioned in the "mock draft" circles as first-round talents. Some offensive linemen still remaining will work right into challenging for starting spots with whichever teams draft them. Cornerbacks who might not have all of the measurables to be taken in Round 1 are still going to mature into outstanding NFL players, should they get into the correct system.

Personnel people have long believed that there are always good players in the draft, no matter the round. Well, there are still talented players on the board as Day 2 arrives and the draft puzzle becomes more defined.

It's a big night, a huge two rounds, and a chance for the Eagles to capitalize on a smart first-round trade and really put this roster in good position.

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