It's finally here. As we count down the hours to the first round of the NFL Draft, we finally put the Eagles on the clock. With possible targets like Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith and Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi off the board, what will the Howie Roseman and Andy Reid do with the 23rd overall pick? Let's examine the options.
It's extremely unlikely that, armed with players like Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles would address one of the skill positions in the first round. Tight end probably isn't an option either, as the Eagles like both Brent Celek and Clay Harbor moving forward.
Picking an offensive lineman, however, is definitely in play. The strength of the draft at this point is considered by some to be tackle, though in our mock draft Carimi and Boston College's Anthony Castonzo are recently off the board. At tackle, that leaves Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod, an athletic 6-5, 328-pounder who can play both tackle positions and could probably slide in at guard as a rookie. Colorado's Nate Solder, 6-8, 319, is said to have as high a ceiling as any offensive lineman in the draft, but he'll require more development. With Jason Peters ensconced at left tackle, Solder probably isn't an ideal fit.
The other option on the offensive line is addressing the glaring hole at right guard, where Max Jean-Gilles, Nick Cole and Reggie Wells could all hit free agency. Baylor's Danny Watkins, 6-3 ½, 310, is what they call a "plug-and-play" player. Watkins is an interesting case because, at 26, he's older than your typical rookie, but he's also only been playing football for four years, so he should have plenty of development ahead. He's the type of player who could be expected to start from day one.
But the Eagles' offseason has been marked with changes on defense, so why would that change now? Let's start with the defensive line, the deepest position in the draft. In Jim Washburn's new scheme, the Eagles will covet explosive players who can get up the field quickly. It seems like Missouri's Aldon Smith fits that bill quite well. Smith, 6-4, 263, was a productive pass rusher in college and is said to have the quick-twitch ability to succeed at the next level.
Iowa's Adrian Clayborn is another defensive end with a history of collegiate production. Clayborn, 6-2 ½, 281, was considered a top-20 prospect months ago, but there are reports that his condition of Herb's Palsy that results in a weaker right arm is dropping him down draft boards a bit. The good news for Clayborn as it relates to the Eagles is that he's had plenty of time to impress Castillo, as the defensive coordinator's son Greg has been teammates with Clayborn at Iowa the last few seasons.
If the Eagles covet the type of swing player who can contribute as a defensive end and an inside pass rusher, local product Muhammad Wilkerson of Temple could fit the bill. ESPN's Mel Kiper actually ranks Wilkerson as the 10th best prospect in the entire draft class, so if the Eagles view the former Owl in the same light, they'd pull the trigger. Or perhaps the Eagles want a pure outside speed rusher with strong hands like Arizona's Brooks Reed.
You already know the Eagles have never taken a linebacker since Reid took over, but with a former linebacker in Juan Castillo taking over the defense and implementing a new scheme, perhaps that changes this year. The player who would tempt the Eagles to select a linebacker is probably UCLA's Akeem Ayers, who could slot right in at the strong side. A wildcard here is North Carolina's Bruce Carter, who is said to have been fully cleared medically in his recovery from a torn ACL.
And finally, we move to cornerback. As the Eagles search for a complement to Asante Samuel, the league's preeminent playmaker at the cornerback position, even Michael Vick has said he'd like the Eagles to address the position in the draft. But in this scenario, there may not be a player at the position worthy of the selection. The two best cornerbacks left on the board are probably Aaron Williams of Texas, who may have to move to safety eventually, and Brandon Harris of Miami (FL).
So those are the options. As the clock winds down, it's your chance to make the Eagles' first-round pick. Who will it be?
Needs: CB, OT, OG, DE
All-Good: WR, QB, TE
Previous PicksNo. 1 - Carolina: QB Cam Newton, Auburn
No. 2 - Denver: DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama
No. 3 - Buffalo: LB Von Miller, Texas A&M
No. 4 - Cincinnati: QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
No. 5 - Arizona: WR A.J. Green, Georgia
No. 6 - Cleveland: WR Julio Jones, Alabama
No. 7 - San Francisco: DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson
No. 8 - Tennessee: DT Nick Fairley, Auburn
No. 9 - Dallas: DE Cameron Jordan, California
No. 10 - Washington: QB Jake Locker, Washington
No. 11 - Houston: CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
No. 12 - Minnesota: DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina
No. 13 - Detroit: CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
No. 14 - St. Louis: DT Corey Liuget, Illinois
No. 15 - Miami: QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
No. 16 - Jacksonville: DE J.J. Watt, Wisconsin
No. 17 - New England: RB Mark Ingram, Alabama
No. 18 - San Diego: OLB Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
No. 19 - New York Giants: OT Tyron Smith, USC
No. 20 - Tampa Bay: CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado
No. 21 - Kansas City: OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin
No. 22 - Indianapolis: OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College