Whom could the Eagles pick in first round?

Posted: April 28, 2014

With less than two weeks until the NFL draft, the Eagles have a significantly wider range of players they could select with the No. 22 overall pick than they did a year ago, when Chip Kelly and company held the No. 4 overall selection.

Assuming the Eagles don't trade up or down, here's an attempt to narrow the number to 11 (with some cheating), taking into account the team's interest and the likelihood the player will be available:

1. Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State. With a jumble of talented receivers expected to be available after Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans go in the top 10, the Eagles should have four to five options to add to a position of need. The question then is whom Kelly covets most. The guess here is Cooks, who has the versatility, yards-after-catch production, and toughness the coach looks for out of the position. Cooks may have similar traits to the departed DeSean Jackson (5-foot-10, 189 pounds, and a 4.33-second 40-yard dash), but he has shown, at least in college, that he is adept at making catches in traffic.

2. Odell Beckham, WR, Louisiana State. Beckham (5-11, 198) is only slightly larger than Cooks, but he makes up for it with speed (4.43 40) and a longer reach (327/8-inch arms compared with 303/4). He wasn't as prolific after the catch, but Beckham was one of the nation's best kick returners (26.4-yard average) last season. Further, he checks off "versatility" on Kelly's to-do list, having lined up in the slot more than most of the top receivers.

3. Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana. Buzz has been increasing on Latimer, meaning draft analysts may be catching up on how teams feel about the 6-2, 215-pounder. All it takes is one team, though, so even if most front offices have him rated as a second-round talent, the Eagles may not want to wait until they select at No. 54. Latimer visited the Eagles this month, and the team had multiple evaluators on hand to watch him work out in Indianapolis on Friday. He has impressive body control for his size and ran a 4.44 40 at his pro day.

4. Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech. If Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert is still on the board, the Eagles will probably take him ahead of Fuller. But Gilbert isn't expected to last past No. 15. Fuller (6-0, 190, 327/8-inch arms) is only slightly less rangy than Gilbert (6-0, 200, 331/8), and ranginess is an Eagles prerequisite at corner. He was instinctive and a sure tackler in college. That should help him transition into the Eagles' zone-heavy coverages.

5. Marqise Lee, WR, Southern California. If the Eagles end up drafting Lee, you can bet Kelly will remind everyone about the time the receiver torched Oregon with 12 catches for 157 yards and two touchdowns in 2012. Lee's numbers slipped last season after two 1,000-yard-plus seasons. Injuries and Trojan turmoil had something to do with the decline. He's still as polished as they come and can beat man coverage even if he didn't blaze in the 40-yard dash (4.52) at the combine.

6. Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA. The draft isn't rife with top-level edge rushers, so if Barr was to slip to the 20s, the Eagles would have a hard time passing on Trent Cole's possible heir. He looks the part of a 3-4 linebacker - 6-5, 255 pounds, and 331/2-inch arms. But Barr is raw, having played the position for only two years after moving from running back. He excelled as a pass rusher but had issues disengaging from blockers in the run game. Auburn's Dee Ford and Missouri's Kony Ealy are appealing pass rushers, but may be ideal 4-3 defensive ends.

7. Ryan Shazier, ILB, Ohio State. He didn't run at the combine but posted a ridiculous 4.36 in the 40 at his pro day. The 6-1 Shazier is up to 237 pounds despite playing at around 225 in college. The Eagles are returning DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks at inside linebacker, but they may spell Ryans on passing downs and may need to start thinking about his eventual replacement.

8. Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State, and Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State. It was unclear as of Friday if Roby's draft status would be affected by a report that he was charged with operating a vehicle while impaired. He has adamantly claimed his innocence. Roby (5-11, 194, 311/2-inch arms) isn't as rangy as Fuller or Gilbert, but he's faster, having run a 4.39 40 at the combine. Dennard (5-11, 199, 301/4) excels in press-man, but the Eagles will have to project some when it comes to how he plays in space.

9. Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville, and Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama. The Eagles still have an obvious need at safety even after signing Malcolm Jenkins and Nate Allen. Pryor (5-11, 207) is more physical than Clinton-Dix, but some believe he has the athleticism to play both safety spots. The Eagles require that kind of flexibility. Clinton-Dix (6-1, 208) makes more sense, but he should be the first safety off the board.

10. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State. His size is appealing (6-5, 240, 347/8-inch arms), but Benjamin ran a 4.61 40 and the slowest 60-yard shuttle among receivers at the combine. He's adept at using his body when the ball is in the air and dominated at winning 50-50 balls in college. He's also a good blocker. But will he be able to get enough separation in the pros?

11. Zach Martin, T/G, Notre Dame. If Martin falls, don't be surprised if the Eagles take the best available offensive lineman and the possible future at guard with Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis over 30.


jmclane@phillynews.com

@Jeff_McLane

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