Draft mockery 3: Eagles will take ...
We'll believe it when we see it.
Except for one lone voice, every mock draft checked thinks the Eagles will take a running back or tight end with their first pick, No. 21st overall, on Saturday, when the NFL draft begins.
Eagles fans know coach Andy Reid and company lean heavily toward linemen, especially defensive linemen, in the first round.
They've also traded away three straight first-round picks, including No. 28 this year for offensive tackle Jason Peters.
Meanwhile, speculation swirls about another possible major move, such as using picks to get the likes of Arizona Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin or Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez.
Trade demands by cornerback Sheldon Brown hint at yet another plot twist.
So there's only one certainty: Whatever happens will prompt debate.
The following first-round selections come from mock drafts updated since Peters trade. (That's why a half-dozen or more mocks, including ones by ESPN and Sports Illustrated, didn't make the cut, as of Tuesday morning.)
Running back Knowshon Moreno, Georgia. 5-foot-11, 208 pounds. "Eventual replacement for Brian Westbrook," says Pat Kirwan, one of three NFL.com writers to project Moreno going to the Birds. "Total package RB who can do it all including catch out of the backfield," says nflmockdraftaces.com. "What he did in the SEC is no fluke," says Michael Abromowitz of thefootballexpert.com. "The presence of another back should do wonders to keep Westbrook at full strength into the playoffs," says Robert Davis of footballsfuture.com. Also projected at 21 by About.com's James Adler and draftguys.com.
Tight end Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State, 6-foot-5, 257 pounds. "Can block and catch ... can't deny his talent on the field," says Chris Steuber of Scout.com. "Elite senior tight end prospect," says NFLDraftScout.com, whose Rob Rang, picking for CBS Sportsline. Rang, though, notes concerns: "disappointingly slow times in workouts" and "catch a single touchdown pass his senior season." "Don't worry about his slow run at the combine, he plays fast," says NFLdraftdog.com. Also slated to go at 21 by Inside the Eagles and draftking.com.
Running back Donald Brown, Connecticut. 5-foot-10, 210 pounds. Led the nation in rushing last season, averaging 160 yards a game. Slotted by Chad Reuter, a NFLDraftScout.com analyst, picking for CBS Sportsline. Brown is generally considered one of the top three running backs in the draft, along with Moreno and Wells.
Running back Chris "Beanie" Wells, Ohio State. 6-foot-1, 237 pounds. A week ago, Wells was the consensus pick at No. 21 for the Birds, according to Scout.com's Mock Draft Muncher, a composite of 40 mock drafts. But clearly the consensus has shifted away, toward Moreno and Pettigrew. "Big back with good hands, good fit. Power zone runner," says Ourlads Scouting Service.
Defensive end Robert Ayers, Tennessee. 6-foot-3, 270 pounds. Reid is highly unlikely to use the team's first pick on a running back or even a tight end, says Walter Cherepinsky of WalterFootball.com (who, by the way, hates the Peters trade). He calls Ayers "an every-down left end who can help against the run and get to the quarterback. ... a very nice fit in Jim Johnson's system." Ayers has "great size and the ability to be a quarterback terror," comments Steuber of Scout.com.
How about a center? If a lineman is likely, one name mentioned by two mid-March mocks might be a fit:
Center Alex Mack, University of California. 6-foot-4, 311 pounds. "Best center prospect in the last decade," some scouts say, according to NFLDraftScout.com. Eagles might even be able to trade down a half-dozen spots and still get him, judging from various mock drafts.
Or a cornerback? If Sheldon Brown's days are numbered, here's a prospect mentioned last time:
Cornerback Sean Smith, Utah. 6-foot-4, 214 pounds. Size might tempt teams to switch him to safety, but he's fast enough to remain at cornerback, says NFLDraftScout.com. Again, Eagles might be able to trade down and still get him.
Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or email@example.com.