Top prospects discuss the draft and the Eagles

Alabama defensive back Ha Ha Clinton-Dix warms up before drills at the NFL football scouting combine in February.
Alabama defensive back Ha Ha Clinton-Dix warms up before drills at the NFL football scouting combine in February. (Associated Press)
Posted: May 09, 2014

NEW YORK - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix said he received a text message this week from the Eagles' assistant director of player personnel, Ed Marynowitz, who helped recruit Clinton-Dix to Alabama. It included a picture of an article that suggested Clinton-Dix could end up in Philadelphia.

One of the top safeties in Thursday's NFL draft, Clinton-Dix is a possibility for the Eagles - and he made sure Marynowitz knew he was interested in a reunion.

"I told him, 'Come get me, please!' " Clinton-Dix said Wednesday at an NFL event attended by 30 of the draft's top prospects.

Would drafting Clinton-Dix require the Eagles to trade up from their No. 22 overall pick?

"Whatever it takes," Clinton-Dix responded.

The Eagles likely would need to make a move to draft Clinton-Dix, but the Alabama player wasn't so sure. There's unknown in every draft, but it's even more heightened this season.

There is uncertainty at quarterback. Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Central Florida's Blake Bortles might be top-10 picks; they might fall out of the top 20. Such a wide range leaves other prospects scrambling.

Even at the top of the draft, there is uncertainty. The Houston Texans could select South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 pick, opt for Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack, or trade out of the spot.

The NFL is hosting a record 30 players at the draft. Six are wide receivers, which is the strength of this draft class. When the Eagles released DeSean Jackson in March, the receiver prospects watched with interest. It meant that another team in the first round had an even bigger need at the position.

"I kind of remind myself of DeSean Jackson, that's someone I've [modeled] my game after," Louisiana State receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said. "It seems like a great fit, that you can come in there and play the spot that he played."

To pick Beckham, the Eagles probably would need to trade up in the draft.

Options at No. 22 could include Southern California's Marqise Lee, who had 20 catches, 344 yards, and three touchdowns in two games against Chip Kelly's Oregon teams. In last year's draft, the Eagles coach had fresh memories of some of the players he picked. He likely won't forget what Lee did against him.

"He kind of knows what he's dealing with," Lee said. "Freshman year, I know he was already watching film on me. Sophomore year, he watched it. He knows what type of player I am. Depending on what they decide, it might help me."

Indiana's Cody Latimer does not have the resumé of Lee, but he's a receiver who has ascended through the predraft process and is a possibility for the Eagles. Kelly worked out Latimer last month.

"It shows they have interest in me," Latimer said. "We'll see how that goes."

Potential Eagles targets - from Beckham to Clinton-Dix to Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller - were encouraged by visits to the NovaCare Complex.

When Beckham came to Philadelphia, the Eagles showed him an offensive concept and then changed the formation. He needed to determine what would happen. Clinton-Dix needed to predict what would happen in a certain coverage scheme on a touch screen.

UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr recalled how impressed he was with the sports science element of the Eagles regimen.

But there's still so much unknown. Clinton-Dix watched the movie Draft Day to decipher clues about what to expect. It didn't work.

"Every team seems interested, they all seem like they're going to take you," Beckham said. "You never really know who's really looking at you."


zberman@phillynews.com

@ZBerm

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