The Eagles drafted Temple's Jaiquawn Jarrett in the second round of the NFL draft Friday night, choosing one of the better safeties in what is considered a weak class, but using a high pick on a player who was expected to last into the middle rounds.
They added Utah State cornerback Curtis Marsh in the third round, 90th overall, getting a long, athletic player who switched to defensive back in 2009, after starting off as a running back.
Jarrett could add depth to a secondary that was thinned by injuries last year. Coach Andy Reid described Jarrett, taken 54th overall, as one of the most intimidating safeties in the draft, and a smart player who can make calls in the secondary.
While analysts said Jarrett lacks typical size and speed for an NFL safety, Reid compared him in stature, speed, and hitting ability to former Eagles great Brian Dawkins.
"Different personalities, different guys, but I don't think you want to run over the middle on either one of them," Reid said. "They'll blow you up."
Jarrett was listed at 6-foot, 196 pounds, and his best 40-yard dash time was 4.54 seconds, contributing to his mid-round grade in most analysts' eyes.
Jarrett was the second Temple player to go in the first two rounds. Former Owls defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson was taken 30th overall Thursday night by the New York Jets.
Reid said former Temple coach Al Golden told him that Jarrett, a team captain and starter from early in his freshman year, is one of two players who helped turn around the school's football program.
The Eagles "see something in me that other teams didn't see," Jarrett said. He thinks some teams downgraded him because of his 40 time, but not the Eagles.
"A lot of teams like kids that are just natural football players, and that's what Coach Reid saw in me," said Jarrett, 21. He led Temple in combined tackles last season and had two interceptions.
Reid said he was worthy of a second-round pick. "Who knows if he would have fallen any further?"
Jarrett will join a safety group that includes Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman, entering their second seasons. Jarrett's selection may signal the departure of veteran Quintin Mikell, whose contract is up and whose future in Philadelphia already was cloudy.
"I'm Happy For Jarrett I Love The Temple Players! Do Your Thing!" Mikell wrote on Twitter.
Reid was noncommittal when asked about Mikell's future, but said, "younger and deeper is what you're looking at."
Jarrett could complement Allen, last year's second-round pick, who is a strong cover man but not a big hitter.
Immediately before the Jarrett pick, Chicago traded up to take Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea, a player Reid said the Eagles were interested in.
Still available when the Eagles chose Jarrett was Miami cornerback Brandon Harris, widely considered one of the better cover men in the draft, though many questioned whether he is big enough. Harris went six picks after Jarrett, to the Houston Texans.
Jarrett, from Brooklyn, said staying in Philadelphia "is a dream come true."
Unlike Jarrett - an experienced player considered small - Marsh has size for his position, but little time as a corner. He's 6-0, 197 pounds, with arms 32 inches long. Reid said he wouldn't be a starter right away, but could eventually be one.
"He's a phenomenal athlete," Reid said.
Marsh said he feels comfortable at corner, despite his relatively short time there.
The Eagles got Marsh after swapping third-round picks with Baltimore, moving down from 85th and adding the Ravens' sixth-rounder, 191st overall.
Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JonathanTamari