If the Eagles target a pass rusher, there are plenty to choose from
INDIANAPOLIS - The Eagles have enough positions of need that selecting the best available player at No. 4 in April's draft likely will fill a weak spot on the roster. One area that needs to be bolstered is a pass rush that recorded only 30 sacks last season.
The first round will include a cadre of intriguing defensive ends and outside linebackers, including players rare on the Eagles: tall, rangy edge rushers. That list features Oregon's Dion Jordan, Brigham Young's Ziggy Ansah, and Louisiana State's Barkevious Mingo, each of whom is viewed as a fit in the 3-4.
The Eagles have not announced their defensive formation, although it's expected it will include elements of the 3-4. That means they need a stand-up edge rusher, and it is unknown how effective Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, and Vinny Curry can be in that role.
Regardless, those players lack the body type of some of the top prospects in the draft, which is why it would not be a surprise if Eagles coach Chip Kelly reunited with Jordan next season.
"I can line up all over the field and get after the quarterback," said Jordan, a 6-foot-6, 248-pound converted tight end. "Just having the speed to come off the edge every play. I never came off the field. I was all three downs, even four downs if you needed."
Jordan had not yet met with the Eagles in Indianapolis, but Kelly and the Oregon transplants on the Eagles' staff already know his personality. They used him in a variety of roles at Oregon, whether it was as a pass rusher or in coverage.
Complicating the evaluation of Jordan is a shoulder injury that will require surgery. He will be sidelined for three to four months. Any decision to draft Jordan would require patience for the injury and for development.
"He's got frightening athletic skills, and he's a year away," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. "He would be a situational pass rusher Year 1, and if he puts 20 pounds on, I think he's going to be a perennial all-pro."
Another player who seems to be a project with the potential for great reward is Ansah. The 23-year-old Ghana native started playing football in 2010 and is a rapidly developing, raw prospect with a 6-foot-5, 271-pound frame to mold.
Because of his late start and high ceiling, Ansah draws comparisons to New York Giants Pro Bowler Jason Pierre-Paul. The Eagles passed on Pierre-Paul for Graham in 2010.
"In comparison to other people that are out there, and I have been playing only a few years, I still have a lot to do just to catch up to them," said Ansah, who later added: "I know that regardless of the fact that everybody is telling me that I'm raw, I'm pretty good at what I'm doing."
Mingo and LSU teammate Sam Montgomery are also touted pass rushers. The close friends have a $5,000 bet on which one will be selected first. That likely will be Mingo, who could go in the top 10.
"I think my speed separates me from every other guy in this draft," Mingo said in response to a question that was actually asked by Montgomery. "I'm a fast guy, and I've got a quick first step, and I like getting to the quarterback."
The Eagles have drafted a defensive lineman in the first round two of the last three seasons. They could potentially add another interior lineman, such as Utah's Star Lotulelei or Florida's Sharrif Floyd (Philadelphia's George Washington High School). Another pass-rushing option is Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones.
Contact Zach Berman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.