2008 Draft Focus...Defense first 2-8-08
Defense Defense Defense ...Scott Thomson 2-8-08
Of the seven first round picks in the Andy Reid era, five were defensive players.
That being said, it is time to take a look at some of the players the Eagles may be looking towards come this year's draft.
DE – With Trent Cole, Juqua Thomas, Victor Abiamiri, Darren Howard, Jerome McDougle and the newly signed Chris Clemons on the roster, defensive end does not appear to be one of the Eagles greatest needs. Even if the Eagles were to cut McDougle and Howard they still have Xzavie Jackson waiting in the wings. There are, however, some good DE's in this year's draft who merit consideration.
The best is Virginia 's Chris Long. A complete player, he should be one of the first four players taken overall. Next up are Vernon Gholston from Ohio State and Derrick Harvey of Florida .
Gholston figures to be a pass rushing specialist who may be more suited to outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Harvey also excels at rushing the passer. Both of these players should be gone if the Eagles stay at 19.
One player who may fall to the Eagles is Clemson's Phillip Merling. At 6'4” and 276 lbs. he has both the size and speed to line up at either end. Merling has allegedly been falling due to concerns about a sports hernia.
There is a pretty big drop-off at DE after Merling. The next best 4-3 end would probably be Lawrence Jackson from USC.
DT - Both Glenn Dorsey out of LSU and USC's Sedrick Ellis should be selected before the tenth pick. After that look for Kentwan Balmer out of North Carolina and Pat Sims from Auburn to be available when the Eagles pick.
The Eagles have taken three DT's with first round picks (Corey Simon, Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley) since Andy Reid was named head coach. If they pass on defensive tackle in the first this year keep an eye on Notre Dame's Trevor Laws in the second. He had a good season last year and an even better workout at the combine. The only concern is his height. At 6'0” he is shorter than your average tackle, not unlike Patterson.
LB - There are only three linebackers worthy of first round consideration this year. USC's Keith Rivers figures to be drafted first ahead of the Eagles' pick. After Rivers both Dan Connor from Penn State and Jerod Mayo out of Tennessee should be around. Connor and Mayo project to either middle or strong-side linebackers in the pros.
With the Eagles feeling comfortable enough at LB to release Takeo Spikes it does not seem likely they will take Connor or Mayo. In fact, it has been quite a while since the Eagles took a linebacker in the first round.
***Can you name him?
CB - If the Eagles do not trade Lito Sheppard they will be stocked at cornerback. That is a shame because this year's draft is incredibly deep at that position.
The top three prospects all come from small schools. They are interchangeable depending on your preference. Leodis McKelvin of Troy , Mike Jenkins out of South Florida and Tennessee State 's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie could be selected in any order.
Even if all three are taken there are still three more CB's who might be taken in the first. Aqib Talib from Kansas could develop into an all-pro some day. Arizona 's Antoine Cason has been starting since his freshman year in the Pac-10 and is battle tested. Reggie Smith from Oklahoma rounds out the top six and could be transitioned to safety.
S - Every other year it seems that the eagles draft an heir-apparent to Brian Dawkins. Whether it be JR Reed, Sean Considine or CJ Gaddis it never seems to work out. This year might not be any better. Only one safety, Miami 's Kenny Phillips, appears headed for selection in the first round.
The possibility exists that the Eagles will look for a safety in the later rounds. DaJuan Morgan of North Carolina State could be one of their picks on day one.
***Jerry Robinson from UCLA in 1979
Note: The Eagles did draft LB, Jessie Small, out of Eastern Kentucky with their first pick in 1989, but the pick was in the second rounder.
© Copyright 2006. Jules Pilla
Not affiliated with the Philadelphiqa
Eagles or the NFL.