Draft mockery: The Eagles will take ...

Safety Taylor Mays has the physical tools to possibly fill Brian Dawkins' shoes for the Eagles, some mock-drafters say.
Safety Taylor Mays has the physical tools to possibly fill Brian Dawkins' shoes for the Eagles, some mock-drafters say. (Brian McCardle)
Posted: February 22, 2010

Two months from today, the NFL will host its 75th draft, with the opening round televised in prime time for the first time.

Of course, mock drafts already abound, prognisticating with unabashed uncertainty who'll go where.

Almost complete agreement exists, in one respect, when it comes to the Eagles: The Birds will draft for defense at pick No. 24 - if they keep it. One website forecasts a running back. The rest all name a defensive end, safety or linebacker.

Clouding any crystal-ball gazing is the prospect that the Eagles might make a major trade involving a quarterback or two. Even if Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick or Kevin Kolb alone wouldn't land a top pick, packaging one with No. 24 raises all sorts of possibilities.

But even if no trade happens - major upset? - the forecasts will get revised as often as the weather, starting right after the results of the NFL Combines, kicking off Wednesday in Indianapolis.

The first round is slated to start at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 22, with the second and third rounds at 6:30 p.m. on April 23, and the fourth through seventh rounds starting at 10 a.m. April 24. ESPN and the NFL Network will televise.

Here are the latest guesses for the Birds' first pick, with the most-mentioned possibilities first:

Saftey Taylor Mays, USC. 6-foot-3, 231 pounds. "The Eagles are looking for that heir to Brian Dawkins, a physical safety who can scare opposing receivers and contribute to the rush defense," says Mel Kiper of ESPN.  Mays "reeks of top-level NFL athleticism. He just needs to put it together," Kiper says. Agreeing Mays has the size, speed and "explosive hitting" is Scouts Inc.'s Todd McShay for ESPN. "A bit of a liability in deep coverage," though, and his tackling needs to be more consistent, McShay adds. "Minor immaturity concerns," adds the scouting report at ESPN. "Might end up at linebacker," offers NFLDraftDog.com.

Defensive end Carlos Dunlap, Florida. 6-foot-6, 290 pounds. Perhaps a risky pick, since this "high-upside, low-effort guy" . . . "lacks consistent effort and was charged with DUI recently," writes Walter Cherepinsky at WalterFootball.com. But the Eagles need to fortify the position, and "Big Red can afford to take a chance," Cherepinsky says. "Dunlap, while he could use some polish, is a big, power, athletic lineman," writes James Adler of About.com in projecting the Birds' pick. Despite "maturity and consistency issues ... could be a steal down this low in the first round with some work," opines FootballsFuture.com.

Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri. 6-foot-2, 245 pounds. Since injuries plagued the Eagles linebacking corps last year, the Birds might be looking for an outside linebacker who's a "solid pass rusher" but could play inside, if Stewart Bradley's recovery is slow, says Michael Abromowitz of TheFootballExpert.com. Quite enthusiastic is DraftCountdown.com, dishing such accolades as "top-notch talent," "fantastic all-around player," "impressive measurables and top-notch intangibles."

Safety Earl Thomas, Texas. 5-foot-10, 197 pounds. Again, the loss of Dawkins was cited by Scout.com's Chris Steuber, mock-drafting for FoxSports.com.  "Thomas is a playmaker, but isn't a big hitter," he writes. Also impressed: NFLDraftBlitz.com and InsidetheEagles.com.

Linebacker Sergio Kindle, Texas. 6-foot-4, 255 pounds. "Incredibly quick off the edge, a strength he showed with 2.5 sacks in the BCS title loss against Alabama," writes Chad Reuter of NFLDraftScout.com for CBSSports.com.  Also played defensive end in college, but "will probably settle into a linebacker position," Reuter says.

Defensive end Everson Griffen, USC. Because "Eagles build their defense around speed," Andy Reid and company might go for a guy who's likely to impress at the coming Combines, writes Matt McGuire at WalterFootball.com.  Yet, McGuire also cautions, "buyer beware."

Defensive end/linebacker Ricky Sapp, Clemson. Could help the Eagles "increase their edge rush" or "stand up and play backer," according to DraftDaddy.com.

Running back Ryan Mathews, Fresno State. 5-foot-11, 220 pounds. With concussion-plagued Brian Westbrook's future a concern, the Eagles might want depth at the position. Projected by Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com for CBSSports.com.

Linebacker Brandon Spikes, Florida. Even if middle linebacker Stewart Bradley returns from tearing the ACL in his left knee, he'll be in the last year of his contract, so Birds might turn to this "immensely talented linebacker who would be a solid addition," notes DraftKing.com.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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