All of us football fans know Thursday night is the first round of the NFL draft. This is really the second big event of the offseason with the first being free agency. Thursday is a day that gives us all hope as we inch toward next season and it offers excitement unrivaled by anything other than opening day.
The Eagles hold pick number 15 and judging by previous drafts its hard to predict whether or not they’ll stay at that spot. Assuming they do, here’s a list of five prospects that could be donning an Eagles cap by the end of the night:
Fletcher Cox, Defensive Tackle, Mississippi State
It remains unclear whether Cox will be there when the Eagles pick, but if he is, you have to believe they will give him a serious look. Cox physically fits the bill standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing in at 294 pounds, he has the speed and size to be a force inside. Cox combined for 19.5 sacks and tackles for a loss last year and was arguably one of the best players on the field when his team played Alabama, which is saying something as the Crimson Tide could have as many as four players go in the first round of the draft.
Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback, Texas A&M
He wouldn’t be the most popular pick amongst Eagles fans, but let me ask you this, do you really think Michael Vick is the longterm answer? Or maybe the better question is, can Vick stay healthy for an entire season? If you answered no to any of these questions, and I admit I did, then you agree that a young quarterback must be a priority in this draft. Tannehill is by most accounts the next best guy behind Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. He has ideal size at 6-foot-4, however he’s only started 19 games for the Aggies after being converted to quarterback from wide receiver. He won’t come in and start from day one and the Eagles don’t need him to do that, so if they believe he will be a star with a few years of grooming wouldn’t he be worth the pick?
Quinton Coples, Defensive End/Defensive Tackle, North Carolina
The Eagles will love this guy’s versatility. At 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds, Coples has the size to play defensive tackle and the speed to be an edge rusher. The one problem regarding Coples is that he should be a top 10 guy, however his character issues will most likely push him out of that range. Somewhere along the way Coples developed a reputation for not giving his “best effort” during his senior year at North Carolina, which would explain a dip in his production from recording 10 sacks in 2010 to just 7.5 last last year. Even with the character concerns most scouts rate him as the top pass rusher in the draft and with the proper coaching he could really help the Eagles’ pass rush.
Mark Barron, Safety, Alabama
What teams must be careful about when evaluating Barron is to question whether he is the best of a weak crop of safety prospects or whether he is the best safety that warrants a top 15 pick? The Eagles don’t want to reach on a prospect out of need, rather they want to get the best player on their board. Barron could very well be that player. He’s quite an imposing specimen at 6-foot-2 and 218 pounds. He was one of the best players on Alabama’s defense, which in my opinion is the best defense I’ve seen since watching college football. He would be an immediate upgrade over anything the Eagles have at safety, however drafting him would require the Eagles’ brass to admit they made a mistake in drafting Jaiquawn Jarrett in the second round just last year. We’ll find out if they’re willing to own up to that pick as a mistake or if they have Jarrett penciled in as a starter this season.
Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
General Manager Howie Roseman has been on record saying the Eagles will pick the best player available and not focus so much on “need”. I’m a proponent of this strategy and if Michael Floyd is available at pick 15 the Eagles should take him. The Birds are in dire need of a red zone threat and even including Justin Blackmon, there’s no one in this draft that fits that role better than Floyd. Floyd stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 224 pounds and has impeccable ball skills, with a knack for being able to time his jump and catch the ball at its highest point. He uses his 224 pounds very well and is by far the most physical receiver in the draft. He’d be an instant upgrade over both Jeremy Maclin and Desean Jackson, who aren’t exactly know for their physical prowess. Would the Eagles take Floyd to help bolster their already formidable offense?
Stay tuned for my 2012 NFL Mock Draft