Eagles 2014 NFL Draft Names To Watch
The NFL Draft is set for May 8th-10 and the Eagles are on the clock at 22 in the first round. Despite a successful 10-6 season, the Eagles came into the offseason with some gaping holes to fill, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
The Eagles added another wrinkle to the situation with the widely publicized release of wide receiver, DeSean Jackson. Now Chip Kelly’s squad is clearly in need of some help on the other side of the ball as they look to replace Jackson’s production.
With that said, nobody really has a clear sense of what the Eagles will do on Thursday night when it’s their turn to call a name. They could look to add a clear stud pass rusher who is a natural fit for a 3-4 scheme. They could try to beef up a secondary that struggled at times a season ago. They might try to immediately fill Jackson’s spot by adding an impact receiver.
The Eagles could go in a number of different directions and here a four names that Eagles fans should be prepared to maybe see snatch a midnight green jersey from Roger Goodell.
Let’s say the Eagles decide to try to replace Jackson with their pick at 22. If they do, they will be forced to take a close look at USC WR Marqise Lee. The USC product has good size at 6’0, 192. He has solid speed as he ran a 4.43 at the combine and is a good option in the blocking game, something that Kelly often will often ask his wide receivers to do.
Lee also is familiar to Kelly who coached against him a number of times when the Trojans and Ducks did battle. Kelly showed a habit for picking players that he was familiar with in last year’s draft.
Another good trait of Lee’s is his ability to play on the big stage. Despite his team’s situation in recent years, the Trojans are still a premiere college football program and they had some big games during his tenure.
Lee’s production dipped last season due to injury, but when healthy expect big things out of Lee. He could be a good fit for the Eagles who do not necessarily need him to be the man. They just need him to come in, learn and contribute. This will be a good offense for any rookie receiver to get his feet wet in.
Other Receivers To Watch: Cody Latimer, Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks
If the football gods see favor in the Eagles, they will allow UCLA OLB Anthony Barr to be available at 22. Barr is in every way, everything the Eagles are looking for in an outside, pass rushing linebacker.
Although the OLB tandem of Trent Cole and Connor Barwin improved as the season went along, it was clear that they did not make up a pairing that would be a long term part of Bill Davis’ defense. Barwin is pretty solid overall. Cole can still certainly play, but the 3-4 scheme is not ideal for Cole who is a more effective player with his hand on the ground.
A system like the Eagles is built for Barr.
He is another Pac-12 product that Kelly will be familiar with. Barr posted a 4.5 at the combine in the 40 and he checks out in all key measurables. Barr still needs to develop as a run defender and still needs time to learn how to comprehend NFL schemes. Barr only played two seasons as a full time defender as he also spent time early in college as a running back.
Barr could go anywhere from top ten to early 20’s. If the Eagles decide to get bold and move up, he may be the player they are after.
Also look out for OLB Ryan Shazier
Although it may seem on the surface that the Eagles are in solid shape at corner, you cannot pass up on an opportunity to bolster your secondary in a significant way. The Eagles continue to preach drafting based on the most talented player as opposed to need.
The best player still on the board could very well be Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard. The Eagles could look to add Dennard as a chip for the very near future as they do not have incredibly strong ties to Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams. The team also seems set with the idea that they view Brandon Boykins is a slot guy exclusively.
Dennard could come in right away and compete for an important role in the secondary. More cornerbacks will allow the Eagles to keep that secondary fresh and Dennard would not be too much of a fall off from anyone on the depth chart ahead of him.
Dennard has good size and plays very physical against receivers. He has a knack for the ball. Some experts knock his straight line speed and the level of competition he faced in the Big 10.
Other cornerbacks to watch: Kyle Fuller, Jason Verrett, Bradley Roby
Now, let’s have a little fun. Rumors surfaced earlier this week that suggested the Eagles were interested in Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel. Acquiring him will almost certainly involve having to trade up into the top five, but the Eagles have proven in the last year that they are anything but conventional.
Imagine a team who had a quarterback put up record breaking numbers (Nick Foles) in his first year in a new system, draft a quarterback with their first pick. IMPOSSIBLE. Right?
Kelly was interviewed earlier this week about the rumors, and was asked to address the rumors about the Eagles interest in Manziel. He mentioned that he recruited Johnny Football to Oregon and the quarterback “broke” his heart when he decided not to come.
Imagine what Manziel could do in this offense. He is clearly one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in recent history in college football. He is a speedy scrambler, but is also an accurate passer with a strong arm. That is a rare combination.
Kelly strikes me as the type of guy who HATES losing. Maybe he is dead set on making sure he doesn’t lose out on Manziel twice. I’m not saying to go buy your Manziel Eagles jerseys just yet. But, remember this is the same team that gave up a pro bowl wide receiver coming off a 1,000 yard season.
They don’t do things by the book.
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