Assigning Odds to Every Potential Philadelphia Eagles 1st-Round Pick
With the 22nd pick in the 2014 NFL draft, are the Philadelphia Eagles more likely to select Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks or Auburn pass-rusher Dee Ford? Move up for UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr or Texas A&M wideout Mike Evans?
Or are general manager Howie Roseman, head coach Chip Kelly and the Eagles brain trust more likely to settle on none of the above and trade down out of that spot altogether?
The possibilities are almost endless. No lie, the number of prospects the Birds have been linked to in the first round easily surpasses double digits. And yet, there’s a very real chance the club doesn’t come away with any of them. Because with only six selections in such a deep draft, the front office can’t afford to overlook any opportunity to add more picks should one present itself.
By far, the most difficult part of assigning odds to the potential first-rounders the Eagles would take is deciphering who is realistically going to be there. Because there is so much talent in this draft, it’s almost inevitable somebody unexpected lasts to that No. 22 spot, somebody that makes them actually want to hold on to the pick.
As you’ll see, that could easily be what the decision boils down to here. Whoever lasts until Philadelphia gets on the clock, will he be somebody worth taking over additional picks?
*All combine results via NFL.com.
CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech: 3-1
If Philadelphia does stay at No. 22, and the upper-echelon prospects are off the board as anticipated, cornerback offers the most value at this point in the draft. There will be quality wide receivers and pass-rushers on Day 2.
But cover corners? Maybe not so much.
While a consensus of mock drafts projected Bradley Roby out of Ohio State as the target, there are indications the Eagles may be partial to Kyle Fuller. Draft pundit Tony Pauline wrote defensive coordinator Billy Davis was "all over" Fuller at Virginia Tech’s pro day, even going so far as to introduce the kid to Chip Kelly.
Fuller has ideal size at 6’0”, 190 pounds to go with adequate speed, running a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash at the combine. Scouting reports indicate he’s physical with receivers and a willing defender against the run, not to mention he can contribute on special teams.
Most of all, Fuller may just be able to make a seamless transition to Philly’s defense. Davis’ scheme relied on a lot of zone coverage, and specifically off-cover techniques from its outside corners. Not only is that probably best suited for Fuller’s skill set, it’s not so dissimilar from the system he played in at VT.
The Eagles would probably like to come away with more immediate help with their top pick, but it’s all about value. If they pass on an outside linebacker or a wideout, there will be similarly talented prospects available later.
That simply might not be the case at cornerback.
WR Marqise Lee, USC: 13-1
Personally, I think the Eagles are likely to wait on the wide receivers expected to be available in Round 2, those wideouts who have better size and just as much speed as several of the players supposedly slated to go in the middle of the first round. Think Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews or Penn State’s Allen Robinson.
After the 2013 draft though, Chip Kelly gained a reputation for targeting players he’s had firsthand experience coaching against. If the decision comes down to receivers he knows, Marquis Lee is one of the most productive Kelly ever faced while coaching Oregon in the Pac-12.
The 2012 Biletnikoff Award winner, Lee hauled in 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore. He totaled 191 catches, 2,864 yards and 25 touchdowns over his first two collegiate seasons alone.
Lee’s numbers were way down as a junior (57 receptions, 791 yards, 4 TDs), but that was due in large part to a combination of injuries and sweeping instability throughout USC’s college football program.
The disappointing year might make some organizations look harder at Lee’s subpar measurables. 6’0” is adequate for an outside receiver, but Pro Bowl types are often taller. A 4.52 in the 40-yard dash is an average time at best.
Kelly, on the other hand, is likely to overlook those details in favor of what he’s seen on the field. Lee is a precise route-runner who could thrive in the right offense—Kelly's offense.
WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State: 13-2
There's tons of speculation that the Eagles will target Brandin Cooks to replace DeSean Jackson, because when teams releases a Pro Bowl-level player, they often then look for a carbon copy to replace him.
Cooks has blazing speed—his 4.33 in the 40-yard dash was two one-hundredths of a second faster than Jackson combine time in ’08. He's even way more productive than Jackson was in college, the Oregon State product's 128 receptions, 1,730 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns earned him the 2013 Biletnikoff Award for best receiver in the nation.
He also has the same faults as Jackson, minus the poor attitude presumably. 5’10” simply is not an ideal height for an outside receiver, where Cooks’ speed will be best put to use.
However, if Kelly did want to clone Jackson’s skill set, he couldn’t have chosen a better year to try. Cooks has the speed to push safeties, and he can move all around the formation, including lining up the backfield. Heck, he even returns kicks and punts.
Like Marqise Lee, Kelly has seen firsthand what Cooks can do from his days in the Pac-12. The question is whether the head coach truly wants—or needs—a replica of the player he just got rid of.
LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama: 10-1
It’s extremely difficult to gauge based on such scientific measures as mock drafts where C.J. Mosley will wind being selected.
Mosley’s got all the credentials of a top-10 pick, but the seeming lack of a elite playmaking ability at a position NFL franchises tend not to value highly could cause the SEC Defensive Player of the Year to drop.
If that were to happen, Mosley qualifies as a no-brainer under Roseman’s “best player available” strategy.
The 2013 Butkus Award winner, Mosley has it all: good size at 6’2”, 234 pounds and the athleticism to run sideline to sideline or drop into coverage. Based on his senior year at Alabama, he’s not necessarily going to make game-changing plays—zero sacks, zero picks, just one forced fumble—as much as solidify the middle of somebody’s defense.
It just so happens the Eagles are in the market for such a skill set. DeMeco Ryans turns 30 this summer and is signed through 2015 at $6.9 million per year, according to Spotrac. Mosley could replace him as starter as early as next season.
If, of course, he’s available. Chances are Mosley won’t last all the way to No. 22, but if somehow he does, that would make for one tough pass.
DE/OLB Dee Ford, Auburn: 15-1
Philadelphia’s top need heading into this draft arguably is an edge pass-rusher, and Dee Ford could fall right into the Eagles' laps at No. 22. The question is whether the Senior Bowl's Most Valuable Player actually fits their 3-4 defense.
There’s little doubt Ford can get after the quarterback after racking up 14.5 sacks his senior season at Auburn. That was while lining up at defensive end in a conventional four-man front, though.
The Eagles would view Ford as an outside linebacker, which is literally a whole other position. Can he be effective—or at least functional—while dropping into coverage?
Granted, Ford undoubtedly would be groomed for Trent Cole’s “predator” role, which involves rushing the passer almost 90 percent of the time. That’s still the most important piece of the puzzle.
But the difficult transition to linebacker is not the only concern with Ford, either. He’s also a tad undersized at 6’2”, 252 pounds, and doesn’t receive high marks against the run. Only one college season as a elite pass-rusher should give NFL front offices pause as well.
I’m not so sure the Eagles will rate Ford significantly higher than BYU’s Kyle Van Noy, Georgia Tech’s Jeremiah Attaochu, Stanford’s Trent Murphy or Louisville’s Marcus Smith—any of whom might be available in Rounds 2 or 3.
With that in mind, Ford would make for a surprising first-round pick.
OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA: 25-1
Not unlike Mosley, it’s exceedingly difficult to get a read on whereabouts Anthony Barr is going in the first round of this draft. At one time the UCLA product seemed a surefire top-10 or 15 pick, but he’s lost a lot of momentum since the offseason began.
The why is not entirely clear. After beginning his collegiate career on offense, Barr racked up an astounding 23.5 sacks, 41.5 tackles for loss and 10 forced fumbles in his junior and senior seasons. The consensus All-American could stand to bulk up a bit, but at 6'5" and 255 pounds, he certainly has the frame to support some additional weight.
The Eagles certainly are intrigued. They reportedly brought Barr to their facilities for an official visit this week, according to Fox Sports' Ross Jones, pass-rusher arguably being the club’s biggest need.
You still have to think Barr lasting to No. 22 is unlikely. Then again, if he starts slipping, a trade up to snatch a big-time playmaker on defense isn’t out of the question.
WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M: 25-1
The fact that the Eagles are spending so much time looking into prospects who have no business falling to No. 22 is enough to make me believe one of them might. Either that, or trading up in the draft is a very real possibility for Philadelphia.
ESPN's Ed Werder reported Chip Kelly went to see Mike Evans’ pro day—although a fella by the name of Johnny Manziel might’ve had a little something to do with that, too. According to Chase Goodbread for NFL.com, the Eagles also hosted Evans on an official visit to the NovaCare Complex in March, lending more credence to the idea that something might be brewing there.
I’m not so sure consensus top wide receiver Sammy Watkins out of Clemson is hands down better than Evans. The Texas A&M product’s size (6’4”), vertical (34”) and arm length and obscene arm length (35”, which was the longest measured at the combine) combine to create an unbelievable catch radius, all while running only a tenth of a second slower than Watkins in the 40-yard dash (4.53).
Yet, most analysts expect Watkins to be taken in the first five picks, while Evans could apparently drop far enough for the Birds to considered within striking distance.
But all the way down to 22?
Doubtful, which is why Evans’ odds of winding up in midnight green aren’t better. He’s clearly the best receiver the Eagles could get their hands on in the first round, even if it’s likely only a dream.
S Calvin Pryor, Louisville: 25-1
Calvin Pryor’s odds of landing in Philadelphia would actually be better than Anthony Barr and Mike Evans, only I can’t say with any certainty he’ll be available at No. 22. And Unlike Barr or Evans, I don’t think the Eagles would feel the need to trade up in this instance.
Pryor is a good enough prospect, he just doesn’t necessarily jump off the page (or tape). At 5'11, 207 pounds, he possesses decent size and reasonable athleticism (4.58 seconds 40-yard dash). But nothing outrageous.
There are also excellent playmaking instincts to go with the measurables. Pryor recorded 11.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, seven interceptions, 18 pass breakups and nine forced fumbles in three seasons at Louisville.
In many respects, Pryor is a complete package. If he happens to fall to No. 22 overall, he would be well worth the pick.
For the first time since Brian Dawkins departed in ’09, Philadelphia finally has some stability at the safety position. Free-agent addition Malcolm Jenkins is penciled into one spot, while Nate Allen and Earl Wolff can compete over the other. But add Pryor into the mix, and it could change the entire landscape of the Eagles secondary.
DL/NT Louis Nix III, Notre Dame: 50-1
News flash: the Eagles don’t view nose tackle as a need. Bennie Logan was a pleasant surprise in that role as a rookie, and the organization believes the third-round pick out of LSU can continue to develop while adding bulk to his already large frame.
Defensive line depth is a huge need—there’s nobody behind Logan, for example. Even if Louis Nix is available with the 22nd overall pick though, and the Eagles are sticking to the “best player available” over need, I’m not sure the big guy fits.
Nix enjoyed a dominant season as a redshirt sophomore at Notre Dame (50 tackles, 4.5 sacks), but his ’13 campaign was derailed by injuries and further marred by questions over conditioning. He may measure in at 6’2”, 331 pounds, but it’s fair to wonder how well he’ll hold up at the next level.
Not a safe pick. Not a need. Not going to Philadelphia at No. 22.
Long Shots: 50-1
S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama: If he slips unexpectedly, the consensus All-American absolutely could wind up in Philly. It just seems very unlikely.
CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State: The 2013 Jim Thorpe Award winner for best defensive back is probably gone by now. Otherwise, he’s rated higher than Kyle Fuller or Bradley Roby, which is also why it seems he's unlikely to be available.
DE Kony Ealy, Missouri: Defensive line depth is a huge need, but the Eagles have starters at all three positions, including a 12th overall draft pick at one end and a solid duo at the other. If they do spend a first-round pick here, the kid better be a stud.
OG Zavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA: Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans are both on the wrong side of 30, and Mathis is on the trade block. Still, Round 1 might be early for a guard.
TE Eric Erbon, North Carolina: Expected to be long gone before the Eagles pick, though I've have seen some mocks where he falls. If Ebron somehow lasts to No. 22, Chip Kelly would jump at the chance to grab a potentially elite tight end, need or not.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State: Huge, rangy wide receiver at 6’5”, 240 pounds, but plodding and raw as well. My guess is he’ll make a fine pro someday but requires too much seasoning to be trusted with a Round 1 selection.
WR Odell Beckham Jr., LSU: Not as fast as Brandin Cooks, not as big as Marqise Lee and not as productive as either one of them. It’s too deep of a draft to go blowing a first-rounder on a 5’11” wideout with “ordinary” 4.4 speed.
Trade Down: 9-to-2
The math is quite simple on this one. Philadelphia has in its possession only six draft choices in the deepest amateur pool in recent memory, yet needs at wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line, outside linebacker, inside linebacker, cornerback, safety and kicker—in several cases, more than one.
How in the world does the front office go about filling them all?
Obviously, the Eagles can’t address every little issue in this draft. They could get a lot closer if they had more selections, though. And while it would be nice to get a few back in exchange for B-level players such as outside linebacker Brandon Graham, defensive end Vinny Curry or running back Bryce Brown, the reality is all their limbs put together aren’t worth more than a couple of Day 3 picks.
The only way the Eagles are going to add picks of significant value is if they’re willing to move down from No. 22, which actually may not be such a bad idea. You see who is likely to be available at that point. In many cases, the talent isn’t that much worse in Rounds 2 and 3.
Of course, moving down is contingent on another team wanting to move up, plus is willing and able to offer fair compensation. There’s no guarantee that a phone call comes on draft day.
Unless a big name falls in the Eagles' though, there’s little doubt in my mind they would be willing to trade up for the right deal. As unpopular as that may be, it might be the best move the Birds have here.