Eagles VP Joe Douglas says number of draftable cornerbacks 'significantly higher' than past years

NFL Combine Football
Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine Monday, March 6, 2017, in Indianapolis.

The Eagles’ biggest need is cornerback. This is considered a deep cornerback draft class.

Just how deep?

“I can’t give you the exact number of draftable cornerbacks that we have. I can say it’s significantly higher than the past 3-4 years,” Joe Douglas, the Eagles’ vice president of player personnel, said Thursday.

He qualified “significantly higher” as “more than handful.” One team has 35 cornerbacks with draftable grades compared to 15-20 in average years, according to the MMQB.

The Eagles are unlikely to be in position to land top cornerback Marshon Lattimore at No. 14. But they could be in position for Lattimore’s Ohio State teammate, Gareon Conley, whose stock appears to have ascended during the pre-draft process. That's more the case of the public catching up to what teams have known.

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“The public has just caught onto him,” Douglas said. “Our staff did a great job getting Conley on the board early. Unbelievable talent. With Gareon, the speed jumps out; the length jumps out. One of the best leaders on their team.”

The Eagles could draft two or three cornerbacks next week. One or two could emerge as starters. But cornerback is a tough position to evaluate, and there have been enough first-round picks who haven’t hit in recent years to illustrate the challenge of finding a good one.

“It is probably the toughest position next to quarterback to play,” Douglas said. “You have to be an outstanding athlete. You have to be resilient; you have to be mentally tough. These wide receivers are going to break down. You have to be able to bounce back. That’s probably a big thing – the resiliency, the mental toughness.”