The draft is almost here, and even if the lockout has made you depressed, you have to be excited.
We’ve speculated for months about what the Eagles will do in the draft, and we will soon find out. They have plenty of needs that they have to fill and haven’t been able to with the lockout preventing free agency. The draft will serve as their first opportunity to start filling these needs.
The Eagles currently have 10 selections: one in the first round, one in the second, one in the third, two in the fourth, two in the fifth, and three in the seventh. They may end up taking 10 players, but they could easily end up taking more or less.
During the draft, the Eagles will definitely make a number of trades. However, these trades are impossible to predict. So, for the time being, I’m going to look at the players I believe the Eagles would select if they ended up using all the picks they’re scheduled to right now.
Round 1 (23rd Overall): Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
The Eagles biggest need is the corner position. They need help along the offensive line, but they really need a guy who can step in and start at corner from day one.
If Smith is available, he’s the type of player that can do that. He’s got a great combination of speed and size. Opposite Asante Samuel, the Eagles need someone who can play physical and tackle. Smith fits the bill.
There were character concerns surrounding Smith, but I think most scouts are pretty much over that. When asked about them at the NFL Combine, Smith said he made some mistakes when he was younger, but he has learned from them.
I don’t think those concerns will really hurt Smith too much, if at all. He’s too talented of a player and if he’s around at 23, I think he’s clearly the guy the Eagles have to take.
Round 2 (54th Overall): Will Rackley, OL, Lehigh
If the Eagles take a corner in the first round, they have to immediately look into improving the offensive line. At this position in the draft, I don’t think there will be a guy who can step in immediately at tackle. However, Rackley could definitely help fill the hole at right guard.
Rackley played tackle for Lehigh, but like a lot of small school prospects, he projects as a guard in the NFL. The Eagles have some free agents at the position that they may not bring back, so it’s definitely important to find a guy they can rely on in the future.
At 6’4” and 307 pounds, Rackley would bring good size to the position and could turn into a dominant player with the coaching of Howard Mudd.
Many may believe that the Eagles should look for an offensive tackle early, but I think it’s just as important to find a guy who can give the Eagles a good push in the middle.
Round 3 (85th Overall): Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon
This may be higher than a lot of other teams are willing to take Matthews, but I think the Eagles would be more than willing to take him with this selection.
Matthews is a hard working player who comes out of an extremely underrated Oregon defense. Their offense overshadowed the defense, but Matthews was a big part of the Duck’s defense.
Matthews is a high-motor type player who doesn’t give up on plays. This is the type of mentality the Eagles love their players to have, and Matthews clearly fits this bill.
I don’t think Matthews would be able to crack the starting lineup as a rookie. Instead, he may fill in as a third down type player who can blitz the quarterback or run with tight ends.
It becomes harder and harder to project players a team will select as you get into the late rounds, but I think this is a guy the Eagles will definitely go after in the third round.
Round 4 (104th Overall): DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma
It seems like the Eagles will draft a running back at some point based on the number of backs they brought in for private workouts. It also seems clear that they’ll wait until day three to take one. The question is where on day three.
This may be earlier than where the team decides to take a running back, but I think Murray is the best fit for the Eagles system.
Many think that he’s undersized, but he successfully carried a pretty heavy workload at Oklahoma. Along with carrying the rock a lot, Murray also shined as a receiver out of the backfield, recording 71 receptions as a senior.
If you’re an Eagles fan, you know how important it is for their running backs to be talented as receivers as well.
Murray can afford to add some bulk to his frame when he hits the NFL, much like LeSean McCoy when he came out. However, I think he has the same playmaking ability that Shady has and is a guy I think could make an immediate impact for the Eagles.
Round 4 (120th Overall): Lawrence Wilson, LB, Connecticut
The Eagles will definitely look to add some linebackers in the middle rounds and I think Wilson is a good fit for them.
At Connecticut, Wilson was a four-year starter and also served as a team captain. He was a guy that was all over the field and recorded over 100 tackles in three out of his four seasons.
He could afford to add some bulk to his frame, but he plays with a lot of intensity and fits the high-motor label that the Eagles so often seek. Although he didn’t record a great 40-yard dash time, he plays a lot faster on the field than his time would suggest.
Wilson plays very well with his hands and has shown the ability to get off blocks, even when dealing with much bigger blockers.
He’s the type of guy that would come in and give everything he has on the special teams unit and could be molded into a starter in a short period of time.
Round 5 (149th Overall): Ian Williams, DT, Notre Dame
The Eagles have drafted a few defensive lineman during the Andy Reid era. Coincidence? Maybe, but I think Williams would be a nice selection for them in the fifth round.
While at Notre Dame, Williams was known for his abilities against the run. With Jim Washburn transforming the way his defensive tackles will play for the Eagles, Williams could be turned into a very well-rounded man in the middle.
He gets a good burst off the line, and despite having shorter arms, he gets into blockers well and uses his hands to quickly dislodge them. When he lines up, he assigns himself an area on the line and does everything he can to make sure he defends it.
If he sees the play is going away from him, he doesn’t give up and attempts to run everything down. His never quit attitude is something I think Reid and his staff will like when looking at Williams.
Round 5 (153rd Overall): Stephen Schilling, OG, Michigan
I fully expect the Eagles to take multiple offensive lineman in the draft this year, and I think Schilling is a guy they will have on their radar.
He is a true guard and a very intelligent player. He’s very athletic for his size and excelled as a pass blocker while at Michigan. This is particularly desirable for a team known to throw the ball as often as the Eagles do.
Although there’s a lot of emphasis on how good Schilling was in pass blocking, he proved to be very solid in run blocking as well. His athleticism made him a good pulling guard who can get out in front of a running back and clear defenders at the next level.
He plays with a very tough attitude, and with the Eagles always being very interested in the mentality of a player, I think Schilling is a guy they will like.
Round 7 (229th Overall): Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware
The Eagles spent a lot of time evaluating the quarterback position this offseason, and I think Devlin is a guy they like to come in and compete with Mike Kafka.
After transferring to Delaware, Devlin played two full seasons with the team, showing great improvement as a senior and drawing attention from NFL scouts.
He has ideal size for a pocket quarterback and has shown that he can make all the throws. As a junior, he was a bit shaky in his decision making, but you could clearly tell this was something he worked on before his senior year. He threw far fewer interceptions and completed a higher percentage of his throws.
When he enters the NFL, he’ll still have to work on his mechanics and is definitely a developmental guy. However, the Eagles aren’t looking for a guy to come in and start immediately, so they’d have plenty of time to mold Devlin into the player they’d like.
Round 7 (237th Overall): Chykie Brown, CB, Texas
Although I fully expect the Eagles to take a corner in the first or second round, I do believe they’ll look to add another one down the line. Brown is a guy they could add to roster late on the third day.
He has decent speed and size, but has very long arms that he uses to his advantage in both press coverage and defending passes. Brown is a very solid athlete and many believe that he can be pretty good if coached up the right way.
He has a good work ethic and truly seems to be a player that comes to work every day looking to get better.
Brown’s draft stock may have dropped because of the time he missed during 2008 and 2010. However, the Eagles have shown in years past that they’re willing to take risks on guys who have been hurt during their college careers, and I think Brown could be another one.
Round 7 (240th Overall): Ryan Winterswyk, DE, Boise State
Winterswyk is a guy who put together an impressive 2009 campaign, recording nine sacks for Boise State. However, he failed to follow it up in 2010, recording just two sacks.
He has good size and I’d like to see the Eagles find an effective defensive end outside of the speedy, high motor build they’ve seem to go after for so long.
Like many players from Boise State, Winterswyk is a hard worker and actually made the team as a walk on.
He’s not the quickest guy you’ll see line up at the position, but he’s relentless and plays with good leverage. If he’s not going to get deep into the backfield, he’s going to set up in a spot where he can read and react.
I don’t think Winterswyk will ever have the wow factor that you see out of some of the league’s top defensive ends. However, he’s a guy that will come ready to play as soon as he steps on the field and will do whatever is asked of him.