Josh Norris

Draft Decisions

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NFL Draft Preview: Eagles

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld's NFL Page, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) leads Rotoworld's college football and NFL draft coverage. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential solutions in May's draft.


For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by team draft preview schedule.


No. 1 Team Need: Outside Linebacker


Silva’s Analysis


Incumbent strong-side 'backer Connor Barwin is a jack of all trades, but master of none. Weak-side rusher Trent Cole still has something left, but is entering his age-32 season and almost certainly his final year in Philly. (Cole is due a $10 million salary in 2015.) Third OLB Brandon Graham is a misfit for the 3-4. Philadelphia lacks a franchise edge rusher. If they don't swing a trade for Dion Jordan, look for the Birds to target a pass rusher with their first-round pick.


Norris’ Options


First day option: Dee Ford, Auburn - Ford displayed a tremendous amount of burst off the line of scrimmage and flexibility to turn the corner. Do not pigeonhole him as solely a speed rusher, as there were multiple instances of strong hand use that generated a counter move (specifically against Texas A&M and Missouri). Ford certainly needs to learn how to read reach blocks more effectively, as he tends to give up his edge positioning in the running game, but he can play in a rotation early in his career.


Second day possibility: Kyle Van Noy, BYU - Connor Barwin was a revelation as a versatile linebacker, accomplishing multiple assignments out in space. As he gets older, he might lose some of that agility. Enter Van Noy, who could allow Barwin to focus more on pass rushing in the coming seasons. Van Noy is scheme diverse and can play linebacker spots from the strong to the weak side. He is one of the few linebackers in this class I trust in coverage.


Third day flier: Aaron Lynch, USF - Fit will seemingly be a critical piece to Lynch’s development. He looked like a future star as a freshman while playing end in an odd man front. Lynch’s flashes are outstanding, but he now plays on the edge like he is rushing from the inside. Development could create a real steal.




Video: Norris on Philadelphia's top need




No. 2 Team Need: Safety


Silva’s Analysis


Defense, defense, defense. The Eagles could use talent injections at all three levels, with safety as the most glaring deficiency. Movable FS Malcolm Jenkins was a welcomed free agent addition, but competition is needed for SS Nate Allen after fifth-round pick Earl Wolff failed to distinguish himself in his first season. Eagles DC Billy Davis likes safeties who can blitz.


Norris’ Options


First day option: Jimmie Ward, NIU - Ward is very versatile and can play in the box, line up over slot receivers or tight ends, or run the deep half. He would complement Jenkins very well, potentially in the same way Kenny Vaccaro did in New Orleans. He might not be frequently mentioned there now, but I bet Ward is selected in the first round.


Second day possibility: Craig Loston, LSU - Loston is somewhat of a limited mover. He does he best work keep everything in front and taking tight angles to disrupt at the catch point. I still believe in Wolff if healthy, but Loston might be a possibility in the third-round. I thought he showed improved ball skills and vision at the Senior Bowl.


Third day flier: Brock Vereen, Minnesota - Shane Vereen’s brother, Brock, has experience close to the line of scrimmage and in man coverage. Combine that with exposures in cover two and other alignments, and it is not a surprise to see Vereen’s name generating plenty of buzz for a day three prospect in recent weeks.



No. 3 Team Need: Defensive Line


Silva’s Analysis


Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton are a formidable duo on the ends, but Davis was forced to rely too heavily on undersized rookie Bennie Logan at nose tackle in 2013. The Eagles turned to Logan because $11 million pickup Isaac Sopoaga flopped, and was traded to New England in October. He's now on the street. Davis favors two gapping on the D-Line, allowing his linebackers to run free. Logan would be better off in a rotational role behind a hulking NT starter.


Norris’ Options


First day option: Louis Nix, Notre Dame - There were shades of Vince Wilfork to Nix’s game in 2012. He is not necessarily a sit at the line, run stuffing defensive tackle. He can be more, as Nix gets one or two yards and disrupts the interior. Causing confusion is his job and he can make individual plays thanks to strong hands to shed. I consider Nix a top 10 talent despite his down final season.


Second day possibility: DaQuan Jones, Penn State - I am a big proponent of hand use for defensive line prospects. Jones might lack tremendous burst and a very athletic lower half, but he has very active hands, which could help generate a balance and leverage advantage. This combination might lead itself to a strong anchor, and Jones has some flashes of getting into the backfield while lining up as a 1- or 3-technique.


Third day flier: Ryan Carrethers, Arkansas State - Carrethers is solely a run stuffing role player, but a solid one at that. There are plenty of instances where Carrethers faced doubles at the line of scrimmage and held his ground. Take him off the field in pass rushing situations, but “where he wins” is obvious.



Eagles 2014 Draft Picks


First Round (No. 22)

Second Round (No. 54)

Third Round (No. 86)

Fourth Round (No. 122)

Fifth Round (No. 162)

Seventh Round (No. 237)



Eagles Current First-Team Offense

 

QB: Nick Foles

RB: LeSean McCoy

WR: DeSean Jackson

WR: Jeremy Maclin

TE: Brent Celek

TE: Zach Ertz

LT: Jason Peters

LG: Evan Mathis

C: Jason Kelce

RG: Todd Herremans

RT: Lane Johnson

 


Eagles Current First-Team Defense

 

RE: Fletcher Cox

LE: Cedric Thornton

NT: Bennie Logan

ILB: Mychal Kendricks

ILB: DeMeco Ryans

OLB: Trent Cole

OLB: Connor Barwin

LCB: Bradley Fletcher

RCB: Cary Williams

FS: Malcolm Jenkins

SS: Nate Allen

 



Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for Rotoworld and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Josh Norris



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