After Howie Roseman’s press conference last week, we really don’t know what to expect out of the Eagles during the first round. He spoke about be willing to trade back and out of the first round.
Does that statement guarantee the Eagles won’t make a selection in the first round? Absolutely not. His statement just lets teams know they will be willing to listen to offers, with hopes that one team will make an offer they can’t refuse.
If you feel deflated because you think the Eagles won’t make a play for a guy in the first round that they like, pump the brakes. This organization hasn’t always told the truth. Remember when Kevin Kolb was the starting quarterback?
The Eagles have always been a crafty team in the first round. Often times they don’t trade with their slated to in the opening round. Sometimes they move up. Sometimes they move back. Sometimes they move entirely out of the round.
Come Thursday night, they’ll be up to their usual business of wheeling and dealing. Here are 10 prospects the Eagles could make plays for at various points of the draft.
10. Benjamin Ijalana, OT, Villanova
Ijalana is going to be an interesting guy to watch during the end of the first round. Many projections have him being taken late in the first round. However, a lot of teams may consider trading up into the late part of the first-round to make a play for a quarterback. If this happens, late first-round projections could fall into the second round.
Ijalana is a guy that this may happen to. Also, despite having high grades from most draft experts, some teams may be concerned about taking a player from an FCS school so high.
There’s a definite possibility that Ijalana may fall into the second round, and if he does, the Eagles will definitely have their eye on him. They gave him a private workout already, and I think he’s a player they definitely like.
Out of Villanova, he’s a smart guy. Despite playing tackle in college, he’ll be moved to guard and has great size for that position.
I don’t think Ijalana will fall all the way to 54th overall, where the Eagles are slated to pick in the second round. However, if he is falling down the board in the second round, I think he’s a player the Eagles could move up to get.
9. Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple
Wilkerson is in a similar situation to Ijalana. Draft experts project him as a late first round pick, but he also has the potential to fall into the second round.
He’s not from an FCS school, but Temple plays in a not so great Mid-American Conference. Like Ijalana, he’s proven to have talent, but hasn’t seen the type of competition that other prospects at his position have.
Howie Roseman has hinted that the Eagles may be interested in taking a defensive lineman in the first round. Although I’ve already stated that you shouldn’t believe that everything Roseman has said is true, I do think the Eagles could be interested in finding another talented defensive lineman early in the draft.
I don’t see Wilkerson as a guy the Eagles would be willing to take in the first round, but I think that if he falls deep enough in the second round, they could trade up to go after him.
8. Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
If the Eagles fail to take a corner in the first round, they’ll need to find one in the second round.
Harris sits atop of the group of corners who are projected to go in the second round. He’s projected to go early in the second round, so this is a guy the Eagles would have to trade up to get as he won’t fall to 54th overall.
Although he’s not as big as some of the corners projected ahead of him, Harris is very athletic and uses his speed and agility in coverage.
If he puts in the work, I think he can develop into a very good corner, although he’ll be impressive straight out of college.
Check out this comparison between Harris and Patrick Peterson.
7. Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
You can never have enough pass rushers, and the Eagles will more than likely pick up a few during this year’s draft. How early? We don’t know.
Clayborn is a player with first-round talent who some believe will fall into the second round. He didn’t have an outstanding senior year, but definitely has the potential to be a play-maker in the NFL.
The thing I like best about Clayborn is his size. The Eagles tend to go after smaller, speed rushers, so I think it would be nice to have a bigger guy who can give them a bull-rush off the edge.
Clayborn possesses that talent and could really blossom with the Eagles behind the coaching of Jim Washburn.
Clayborn definitely won’t fall to where the Eagles are currently supposed to pick in the second round (54th overall), but if he falls far enough, the Eagles may make a move for him.
6. Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
If the Eagles take a corner in the first round, they’ll need to immediately start addressing the offensive line in the second round.
Many of the top offensive tackle prospects will be off the board in the second round. Sherrod projects as the top offensive tackle that will likely be around early in the second round.
Sherrod has plenty of size standing at 6’5” and 321 pounds. However, many believe he needs strong work on his technique if he wants to be an elite offensive lineman in the NFL.
The good news for the Eagles is that they have Howard Mudd, one of the most talented offensive line coaches in the business. Mudd should be able to greatly help Sherrod and make him the player the Eagles are looking for.
Despite those doubting that Sherrod will be an immediate starter, he is still projected to go early in the second round. If the Eagles need a lineman in the second round, they could trade up for Sherrod.
5. Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Smith is clearly the third best corner in the 2011 class and seems to be gaining popularity as draft day approaches. Many mock drafts have the Eagles landing Smith with the 23rd overall selection.
However, the character concerns that many had about Smith seem to be diminishing, and he could be off the board by the time the 23rd selection comes up.
The Eagles brought Smith in to work him out on the field, but also to speak with him and make a judgment of how they perceived him as a person. I think his on the field talent speaks for itself.
If the personal examination went well, Smith could be the number one priority on the Eagles draft board. In this case, they may be willing to move up a few spots to ensure that they can get Smith.
This wouldn’t be a huge move for the Eagles, but it would guarantee that they get their guy.
4. Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College or Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
I’m listing both of these guys because I think they both project well as prospects. Also, I see both of them being drafted in the same range, so it will depend on who teams like better to see who goes first.
Both players draft position will also depend on one another. Both will either rise or fall depending on where the other is taken.
Offensive tackle is a clear need and I think either one of these guys could step up and be an immediate starter as a rookie. Pairing their talent with the coaching of Howard Mudd, they should definitely shine.
There is a chance that both could be available if the Eagles stay with the 23rd overall selection. However, if the Eagles are high on either player, they could move up a few picks in the first round to take either player.
3. Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Amukamara is regarded as the second best corner in his class, and that position is a huge need for the Eagles. Adam Schefter of ESPN has reported that he believes the Eagles may be considering trading up in the first round.
If the Eagles do decide to trade up, they’re going to want to find a player who can come in and make an immediate impact. With the corner position being such a big needed for the Eagles, Amukamara could be the kind of player to come in and start the opening game as a rookie.
In order to make a play for Amukamara, the Eagles will have to wait and see where Patrick Peterson goes. The later that Peterson goes, the better for the Eagles. If Peterson goes within the top five, the Eagles may not be willing to give up what it will take to make a play for Amukamara.
If Peterson goes a bit later, and Amukamara is still available around pick 13 or so, the Eagles may pull the trigger and go after him.
2. Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Smith is regarded as the top offensive tackle prospect in the 2011 draft and it’s definitely a huge need for the Eagles.
Down the stretch in 2010, Michael Vick lost confidence in his line and had every reason to. Each time he dropped back, pressure was getting into his face before he could make his reads and find receivers.
The Eagles need both a guard and tackle on the right side and Smith could definitely be the guy to anchor the line at right tackle.
During the offseason, the Eagles didn’t workout any of the top-tier offensive tackles so it’s interesting to think about. Did they do that because they’re genuinely not interested or because they don’t want to let other teams know they’re interested.
Smith is definitely a solid player, so if he is around in the middle of the first, the Eagles could make a play to move up and get him.
1. Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
I’m not going to give this one the greatest odds, but it would truly be the grand daddy of them all. A few things would definitely have to take place for this to be a possibility.
To start, Peterson would likely have to fall out of the top 5 picks. Some believe he’ll be selected in the top 5, some believe he’ll fall between picks 5 and 10. For the Eagles to have any shot, I think they’ll have to wait for him to get past Arizona at number 5 overall.
From here, the Eagles are going to have to be ready to cough up two first round picks. It’ll cost them the 23rd overall selection and their 2012 first round pick, maybe even a little more.
It’s a lot to give up, but with Howie Roseman voicing his willingness to trade out of the first round, maybe they wouldn’t miss drafting in the first round in 2012 that much.
The only thing that is certain is that Peterson is a special player who could make an immediate impact for the Eagles.