As we tip our toes into the NFL Draft season for the Eagles, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has released his debut mock draft of 2011. It's obviously exceedingly early in the process, but it's never too early to dream about who could be joining the Eagles come late April. Who does Kiper have slotted to Philadelphia at No. 23 in the first round? Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi.
"The Eagles are loaded at the skill positions and did a nice job of hitting defense early in last year's draft, so they should address the offensive line at a place where the value meets the need," Kiper writes. "In Carimi they get a guy who loves to run-block and will sustain his blocks into the parking lot. He plays with an edge but needs continued development as a pass-blocker. His film against some big-time prospects this year shows a guy ready to contribute."
Carimi is one of many seniors scheduled to participate in next week's Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL. PhiladelphiaEagles.com will be on the scene in Mobile to provide full coverage of the week's festivities.
For variety's sake, we'll take a look at another early mock draft, this one by CBSSports' Rob Rang. Rang predicts the Eagles addressing the secondary in the first round in the form of Miami (FL) cornerback Brandon Harris, an underclassman.
"The Eagles feature one of the league's best corners in Asante Samuel, but have struggled with consistency on the other side without journeyman Ellis Hobbs, who missed almost half of the season with a career-threatening neck injury," Rang writes. "Harris struggled early on in the Sun Bowl loss to Notre Dame, but his speed and agility make him one of the draft's top corners and a good value here."
UPDATE: Todd McShay, Kiper's colleague at ESPN, has updated his mock draft and, surprisingly, he comes to the same conclusion as Kiper, projecting the Eagles to select Carimi at No. 23.
"The Eagles have been up-and-down with their offensive line picks in recent years, but while Carimi has some limitations athletically there is little doubt in my mind he's NFL-ready and will be a quality starter at right tackle for the next 10 years," McShay wrote. "He's the most technically sound and consistent lineman in this year's class."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 12:15 p.m., January 19