A month ago, the general consensus was that the Eagles would take either an offensive lineman or a cornerback in the first round of the draft. However, with one day left until the draft the ever-shifting mock draft winds are drifting towards the Eagles taking a defensive end.
Ron Jaworski agreed. The former Eagles quarterback and current ESPN talking head has his former team selecting Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt with the 23d overall pick. Many have him going a little earlier. If so, Jaworski thinks the Eagles will take Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn. He isn't the only one.
"I love this kid," Jaworski said. "What he did to the Gabe Carimi kid from Wisconsin [also projected to go in the first round] in the pass rushing game. Well, I looked at that tape and I went, ‘Wow.’ This kid almost humiliated Carimi in that game he was beaten up that bad. He did get blocked a little bit by Carimi in the running game. But as a pass rusher I thought Clayborn was outstanding."
Here's the second part of a recent Q&A I had with Jaworski. Part one -- on the quarterbacks in the draft -- will be published in Thursday's Inquirer.
Will new defensive coordinator Juan Castillo change how the Eagles draft on that side of the ball?
What’s intriguing to me is what approach they’re going to take philosophically with Juan Castillo now as the defensive coordinator. We know what they were under Jim Johnson. We know what they were under Sean McDermott. … I don’t know if they’re going to take the same approach. Will they continue to be a pressure defense when you consider they weren’t a very good pressure defense last year? Second half of the season only 15 sacks. It was the second year they gave up 31 touchdown passes and they were weak in the red zone. So maybe with this offense you don’t need to be as aggressive on defense. Maybe you become a little more conservative, a little more bend but don’t break.
Will new defensive line coach Jim Washburn alter the approach?
Wherever he’s been they’ve not been a big blitzing team. What he likes to do is just turn his front four loose, put the onus on his pass-rushing defensive linemen to get after the quarterback and play some coverage-based scheme.
Will Washburn get the most out of an underperforming defensive line?
There’s three No. 1 draft choices on this defensive line. There should be more production. Trent Cole’s playing too many snaps. He’s not the kind of guy that can be on the field 55-60 snaps a game. If you can keep him fresh, put his hand in the ground and put him in that jet technique where he takes off after the quarterback, that’s where he’ll be much more productive.
A lot of mock drafts have the Eagles taking Temple defensive tackle/end Muhammed Wilkerson.
He’s kind of interesting. There was a run on him for a while. But he’s certainly fallen off a little bit. I think he will be there. Will the Eagles take him there? I didn’t have him rated that high. I didn’t study him as much as some people. I think he’s a good football player but I thought he was more of a second rounder to me.
What about cornerback, especially if the top three (Patrick Peterson, Prince Amukamara, Jimmy Smith) are gone?
I see this kid Brandon Harris from Miami potentially being there. We know the first two guys will be gone by then. I know as I talk to people around the league they see the kid Akeem Ayers out of UCLA possibly being a guy that the Eagles could like. I don’t see it. ... I just think that there’s so much depth on the defensive line in this draft that would probably be a position they would focus on.
What are the chances the Eagles trade out of the first round?
With the Eagles that’s always a possibility, them moving. They historically have done very, very good with the draft. Of the 31 players the Eagles have drafted since ’08, eight of their draft choices are playing on other NFL teams, which is tied with the Patriots and the Broncos. That’s a lot of players on other teams. And that tells me two things. No. 1, the Eagles have a very deep football team if guys that they have drafted can make other rosters. No. 2, they draft very well. They know the talent level and teams know they draft well and when they release guys other teams pick them up. I think if you look at the big picture of the Eagles' draft they have been outstanding at least since 2008 when this study was done. Now again as far as movement, I think Andy’s always been very good at getting the guy he targets, a guy that in their mind that will help their football team, and they’ll either move up or out to get the guy. … As I look at this draft, maybe 12-25, in there, it’s a level playing field. I think at 25 you can get the same caliber of player at 12.
Would you be surprised if the Eagles did not take an offensive lineman early in the draft?
It wouldn't surprise me at all. As I evaluate this football team, I think the one thing we saw last year is that this is a very good offensive football team. It’s dynamic. It’s explosive. It’s a very, very well-designed team. I think Mike McGlynn showed that he can play center but with Jamaal Jackson coming back you have the opportunity to move McGlynn to a guard position. And everyone always seem to be down on Winston Justice. I think he’s a pretty solid football player. I don’t think there’s any weaknesses on that offensve line. Could it have played better at times? Was it inconsistent? Certainly. But its not like, ‘Oh my God, if we don’t get help on the offensive line we’re done.’ I think Howard Mudd will make this an even better offensive line. Juan Castillo did a great job. But I think the experience of Howard Mudd will make this offensive line even better.