The Philadelphia Eagles are big on the whole "best available player" thing, which makes it hard to get a specific read on what the defending NFC East champions might be looking for when the NFL Scouting Combine gets underway this week in Indianapolis.
That said, the Eagles would be silly not to at least give some basic consideration to their areas of need, especially when it comes to breaking ties on their draft board. With that in mind, here's a general look at what the Eagles should be focusing on while the league's top prospects are poked and prodded at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Where they pick
Round 1: 22
Round 2: 22
Round 3: 22
Round 4: 22
Round 5: 22, 29
Round 7: 22
What they need
At least one safety: Earl Wolff isn't proven, and the Patrick Chung experiment didn't pay off. Even if the Eagles do find a starting-caliber safety in free agency, they'd be smart to draft another one in the early rounds come May 8-9.
One more pass-rusher: The front seven appears to be set, but Trent Cole is 31, and it might not be in the cards for Brandon Graham. I imagine Philly will look for one more versatile outside linebacker who can bring heat.
One wide receiver: If Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin both return, this gets crossed out. But there's a chance they lose at least one of those impending free agents, which would increase the need for depth and talent at the receiver position.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S, Alabama): Arguably the best safety in the draft, there's a chance he'll be gone. But you never know.
Deone Bucannon (S, Washington State): More of a big hitter. But can he cover? That's the big question.
Ahmad Dixon (S, Baylor): Good run defender, but he has to prove he has the technique and cover skills to cut it.
Dion Bailey (S, USC): He's bulky and tough, which is something I think the Eagles appreciate.
Terrence Brooks (S, Florida State): Versatility in coverage is a key for the former corner. Could be a steal in the middle rounds.
Calvin Pryor (S, Louisville): It seems like every mock drafter is sending him to Philly. He could be better in coverage, but I think they'd love his physicality.
Ed Reynolds (S, Stanford): Another aggressive free safety who would fit in nicely with that scrappy secondary.
Craig Loston (S, LSU): Ditto for him, except he's probably more of a strong safety.
Kelvin Benjamin (WR, Florida): He has the size to replace Cooper and the skill to replace Maclin. Probably a late first-round pick.
Allen Robinson (WR, Penn State): Might be more polished than Benjamin. He'd make a nice possession receiver to complement DeSean Jackson.
Jordan Matthews (WR, Vanderbilt): Similar to Robinson in terms of size and speed. Also expected to go late in Round 1.
Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M): A lot to like, but I don't know if he'll drop far enough on draft night.
Kyle Van Noy (OLB, BYU): Solid pass-rusher who is versatile enough to please defensive coordinator Bill Davis.
Dee Ford (OLB, Auburn): Comes with plenty of SEC experience, but he may have a lower ceiling than others. He also has to prove he can cover.
Don't forget about...
De'Anthony Thomas (RB, Oregon): You know Chip Kelly will want to push Howie Roseman in this direction.
Devon Kennard (OLB, USC): A potential steal in the late rounds who can rush and cover.
Jonathan Brown (OLB, Illinois): He can play anywhere at linebacker, which is key. Should be available in the sixth round.
Khairi Fortt (OLB, Cal): Another potential late-round steal if they can coach him up as a rusher.
They'll have to wait to see...
Alden Darby (S, Arizona State): A strong safety who is good in coverage and could be available near the bottom of the draft.
Hakeem Smith (S, Louisville): Pryor's college teammate is a 24-year-old redshirt senior who might actually be NFL-ready.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, neither of those guys will be in Indy this week.
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