Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A look ahead to Eagles Draft Day 2

Danny Watkins, the Eagles newest offensive lineman, will be introduced to the media today at 4 p.m. down at the NovaCare Complex. The Eagles took the Baylor tackle with the 23d pick in the first round Thursday night. It's safe to say not many saw that coming, although a few did project the 26-year-old to Philly. When Watkins arrives there's a good chance he may run into a few of his teammates, who for the first time since the lockout began, will be given full access to the Eagles practice facility on Friday.

A look ahead to Eagles Draft Day 2

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Is Clemson safety Marcus Gilchrist on the Eagles´ radar as a potential second round pick? (Michael Conroy/AP)
Is Clemson safety Marcus Gilchrist on the Eagles' radar as a potential second round pick? (Michael Conroy/AP)

Danny Watkins, the Eagles newest offensive lineman, will be introduced to the media today at 4 p.m. down at the NovaCare Complex. The Eagles took the Baylor tackle with the 23d pick in the first round Thursday night. It's safe to say not many saw that coming, although a few did project the 26-year-old to Philly. When Watkins arrives there's a good chance he may run into a few of his teammates, who for the first time since the lockout began, will be given full access to the Eagles practice facility on Friday.

But Watkins was yesterday. It's time to glance ahead to what may happen tonight in rounds two and three. The Eagles own the 22d pick (54th overall) in the second round and the 21st (85th overall) in the third round. It's a safe bet they'll be looking to address the holes on defense after taking Watkins.

So where are they most in need and where will they go? Will they take the best player at each spot or cater the pick to their needs? Let's take a quick look at who is still on board at the positions the Eagles may be looking to add to:

CORNERBACK
Aaron Williams, Texas (6-0, 204)
Brandon Harris, Miami (Fla.) (5-10, 191)
Ras-I Dowling, Virginia (6-1, 198)
Davon House, New Mexico State (6-1, 200)
Chimdi Chekwa, Ohio State (6-0, 191)
Marcus Gilchrist, Clemson (5-10, 195)
Curtis Brown, Texas (6-0, 185)
Shareece Wright, Southern Cal (5-11, 185)
Johnny Patrick, Louisville (5-11, 191)

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The Eagles may have to trade up if they want any shot at either Williams or Harris. Both don't project as starting outside cornerbacks, though. Many consider Williams a future safety. I've used this tidbit before, but Juan Castillo was down to Austin for Texas' Pro Day and presumably to get a closer look at Williams and Brown. Williams is a boy scout and would fit the Eagles in that regard, and they do need safety help if Quintin Mikell doesn't come back. Harris is a generous 5-10 and projects to be a nickel. The Eagles do need a replacement for Joselio Hanson. Doesn't seem worth a high second round pick, though. More than likely, the Eagles will get a cornerback we've never heard like they did with Trevard Lindley last year. If they plan on getting a starting right cornerback through "other avenues" (read: free agency or trades; Nnamdi Asomugha or Johnathan Joseph), as Howie Roseman suggested, they'll probably grab a project in the latter rounds. 

DEFENSIVE END
Jabaal Sheard, Pittsburgh (6-3, 264)
Allen Bailey, Miami (Fla.) (6-3, 285)
Christian Ballard, Iowa (6-4, 283)
Pernell McPhee, Mississippi State (6-3, 278)

The pickings at defensive end get thinner after the first round. A total of six went Thursday night and many thought the Eagles would be a part of that group. They weren't. That could end right away tonight in the second round. Problem is the best guy may not be there. I've seen a few mocks that have Sheard slotted to the Eagles. He's sleek and not especially large which fits their size parameters for the position. I like Ballard. I think he's just as good as Iowa teammate Adrian Clayborn, who went to Tampa Bay at No. 20. If the Eagles don't go end tonight you got to think they'll address the position through "other avenues" and get a veteran. It makes some sense. They already have three young guys -- Brandon Graham, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Ricky Sapp -- in the system. Does new defensive end coach Jim Washburn need another project?

DEFENSIVE TACKLE
Marvin Austin, North Carolina (6-2, 309)
Stephen Paea, Oregon State (6-1, 303)
Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson (6-4, 310)
Drake Nevis, LSU (6-1, 294)
Kenrick Ellis, Hampton (6-5, 346)
Jurrell Casey, Southern Cal (6-1, 300)
Terrell McClain, South Florida (6-2, 297)

I feel fairly confident that the Eagles will take a defensive tackle tonight. They'll probably have to trade up for Austin or Paea, but Jenkins and Nevis should be there at 21 and Ellis is extremely enticing in the third round. Austin has character concerns and took a fall. He was kicked off the Tar Heels for taking money from an agent last year and would be a risk for any team. Paea is strong as an ox. But he isn't especially big. Ellis is someone to keep your eye on. He might not seem the Eagles' type -- he's a monster -- but I know for a fact that they like the kid. Could you imagine he and Antonio Dixon anchoring the middle of the defensive line?

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER
Akeem Ayers, UCLA (6-3, 254)
Brooks Reed, Arizona (6-3, 263)
Bruce Carter, North Carolina (6-2, 243)
Justin Houston, Georgia (6-3, 270)
Dontay Moch, Nevada (6-1, 248)
Sam Acho, Texas (6-2, 262)
K.J. Wright, Mississippi State (6-3, 246)
Chris Carter, Fresno State (6-1, 248)
Mason Foster, Washington (6-1, 245)

Ayers plummeted out of the first round and I'm not really sure why. He's kind of a tweener, although you'd have to think a 3-4 defense would love him as a pass rusher. The Eagles had him in for a look-see pre-draft, and would likely play him at defensive end. He won't be around at 21. Many of the guys on this list are outside linebackers in 3-4s. The Eagles need linebacking help, but I think they'll stick to their guns and grab a few on Day 3.

INSIDE LINEBACKER
Martez Wilson, Illinois (6-4, 250)
Colin McCarthy, Miami (Fla.) (6-1, 238)
Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina (6-1, 241)
Casey Matthews, Oregon (6-1, 231)

Wilson is a physical specimen. He would be hard to pass on if he fell to the Eagles at 21. Because of my Penn State connection I got to watch a decent amount of Big Ten football and Wilson did catch my eye. He reminds me a little of Ernie Sims (oh no!), not in stature but in his over-aggressiveness. Matthews is intriguing on name alone. He isn't considered to be anywhere near the talent Clay is and is not an outside rusher -- more the 3-4 inside type -- but genes mean something in this game.

SAFETY
Rahim Moore, UCLA (6-0, 202)
Quinton Carter, Oklahoma (6-1, 208)
Tyler Sash, Iowa (6-0, 211)
Chris Conte, California (6-2, 197)
Jaiquawn Jarrett, Temple (6-0, 198)

As much as the Eagles need a safety, I'm not sure they address it tonight. They do have Kurt Coleman and Colt Anderson down on the farm if Mikell doesn't return. I threw Jarrett in there because he's a local kid, but he's not expected to go until the fourth round. The Eagles did have him in for a workout, but it was probably just them doing their due diligence on a prospect in the neighborhood.

TACKLE
50 Marcus Cannon, TCU (6-5, 358)
60 Orlando Franklin, Miami (Fla.) (6-6, 316)
81 Marcus Gilbert, Florida (6-6, 330)
92 James Brewer, Indiana (6-6, 323)
GUARD
53 Benjamin Ijalana, Villanova (6-4, 317)
68 Will Rackley, Lehigh (6-3, 309)
86 John Moffitt, Wisconsin (6-4, 319)
CENTER
52 Rodney Hudson, Florida State (6-2, 299)
71 Stefen Wisniewski, Penn State (6-3, 313)

Taking Watkins will probably keep the Eagles from drafting an offensive lineman on Day 2. Of the tackles, Gilbert has great size and his school ties to Roseman (a Gator) should keep him on the radar (see: Cooper, Riley). That being said I think they get a tackle project on Saturday. Instead of taking Watkins, I really thought the Eagles would get their guard on Day 2 and take either Ijalana or Rackley. Not because they're local guys but because they both have tremendous upside.

I didn't include prospects at quarterback, wide receiver, running back or tight end because the Eagles are unlikely to go in that direction tonight. But I wouldn't rule it out.

Inquirer Staff Writer
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