The NFL's Scouting Combine concluded on Tuesday. The Eagles had a chance to study more than 300 of the top prospects for the upcoming NFL draft. Let's talk about some of what the Eagles saw, good and bad.
We'll start on the offensive line, since that is the first group to work out at the Combine. USC junior OT Tyron Smith didn't work out in Indy due to injury, but had a great Combine simply by measuring in at 6'5, 307. During the season he weighed in the 285-pound range. Anyone who watches his game tape loves his potential, but size was a concern. 307 pounds is plenty big for tackle in the NFL. The Eagles may have had serious interest in him, but at this point he could go in the top 10. He could still be a target if the Eagles consider moving up or if they are able to deal Kevin Kolb for a top 15 pick.
I thought Gabe Carimi, Anthony Castonzo, and Nate Solder all looked good in their workouts. Any of them could be targets at pick 23. I was highly disappointed that Villanova star OL Ben Ijalana was hurt and unable to work out. I'd really like to have seen him at the Senior Bowl or Combine, to compare him to big school guys in the same environment. That helps make an apples to apples comparison and not project so much.
In the past OG prospect Marcus Cannon would have been a major Eagles target. He weighed in at 358 pounds and carried it very well. Basically, he is what they hoped Max Jean-Gilles would be. With Howard Mudd now running the line I don't think the team will go so hard after massive blockers. Two potential targets at RG are Danny Watkins and Clint Boling. Both guys had good workouts. I was especially impressed with Boling. He's had a strong offseason performance and could go as early as the 2nd round. Mike Pouncey had a solid showing and could be a target.
Running back is a position where the Eagles need depth. They have tried to find a guy with some size in recent years, but to no avail. There are a few backs with some size and potential this year as well. The guy who fascinates me most is Delone Carter of Syracuse. Watching him run the 40-yard dash you could just see his thick upper body bouncing around. Think of him as a poor man's Maurice Jones-Drew. I'd love to see the Eagles add a compact, powerful runner to complement Shady McCoy.
RB Alex Green had a huge year for Hawaii and then a strong showing in Indy. He is 225 pounds, but still ran a 4.53 and looked agile in the drills. You know Green can catch the ball coming out of the Hawaii offense. A few years back Andy Reid wasted a pick on Nate Ilaoa, a Hawaii player with RB skills in a FB body. Green is nothing like that. He's a true RB with some size. Another big RB of possible interest is Mario Fannin from Auburn. He weighed 231 pounds and ran a blazing time of 4.38. Fannin is a good fit for the Eagles because he can run, catch (97 career receptions), and also return kickoffs. He never had a game with 20 or more carries in college so he knows how to fit in an offense where he's not a workhorse runner.
There is a great group of defensive linemen to choose from. I'm not sure what the Eagles plans are on the defensive line. If they target a defensive end early I have to think DE Ryan Kerrigan of Purdue is the key target. He is 6'4 and has his weight up to 267 pounds. He's athletic, productive, and shows up in every situation (season, Senior Bowl, Combine). Kerrigan reminds me a great deal of Kyle Vanden Bosch, a star pupil of Jim Washburn's.
There are also some intriguing defensive tackles for the Eagles to look at. Temple DT Muhammad Wilkerson could be a target for pick 23. He is 6'4, 315. He did okay in the athletic tests and looked very good in some drills. Muhammad has a build that the Eagles are lacking on the defensive line right now. If the team waits for the middle rounds they could go for Terrell McClain from USF. He showed very good feet in the drills and previously played well in two all star games. Marvin Austin was suspended from UNC for the whole season, but had a great workout. I'm not a big fan of his, but the Eagles could like him. Clemson DT Jarvis Jenkins didn't have a standout performance at the Combine, but he's a good DT that the team could go for. He's 6'4, 309. Jenkins is a tough run defender, but does have some athletic ability as well.
This isn't a great year for linebackers, but there are some interesting targets. I had UCLA star Akeem Ayers pegged as a potential top 10 pick, but then he ran in the 4.8 range and didn't post great workout numbers. I still think he's a 1st round player with a ton of talent. Ayers is 6'3, 254. The Eagles could look at him as a SAM and role player. Ayers had 14 career sacks. He can blitz and rush the passer from the end spot. He also has good cover skills (6 career INTs). His pedestrian showing is good news/bad news. If he ran a 4.6 there is little chance Ayers would be on the board at 23. The fact he's slower than expected means he could be available, but also raises the question as to whether the Eagles should want him. As a pure SAM, no. However, Ayers is versatile enough to be the SAM in the base defense and then to fill various roles in the nickel and dime looks. At that point, maybe he is worth a high pick to the Eagles. We're probably talking about a longshot, but it does make for an interesting discussion.
Ohio State LB Ross Homan came in at 240 pounds. He played outside for the Buckeyes. He could be a backup at WLB and MLB for the Eagles. Homan had a great junior season (5 INTs), but wasn't as much of a playmaker this year. I thought he looked okay in the drills and he led all LBs with 32 reps on the bench. LB Martez Wilson measured in at 6'4, 250 and then ran a 4.49 in the 40. That is a great combination of size and speed. He did look stiff in the drills, which means he's best suited for ILB. The Eagles could look at him as a MLB/SAM prospect, just as they did with Stewart Bradley back in 2007.
There is a really talented group of cornerbacks for the Eagles to choose from. Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara will be long gone by pick 23. Both guys are big, fast, and very talented. The third corner spot is up in the air. Jimmy Smith of Colorado has the best combination of size, speed, and cover skills. He did not have a good Combine, though. He is 6'2, 211 and did run a 4.46, but he failed to stand out in the drills. He also had some tough questions to answer about character issues. Smith admitted to some failed drug tests in his past. Like Ayers, he's a good news/bad news guy. If Smith had a terrific Combine he'd be out of the picture at 23. The fact he has some warts means there is now a good chance he'll be available. The Eagles have to decide if that is a good thing or not.
Another player in the mix to be the third corner is Brandon Harris from Miami. He's not as big or fast as Smith, but looked great in the drills. He had quick feet and fluid hips. He played the ball well. Harris looked like a natural cover corner. He didn't have a great season so Harris needed a strong showing. My favorite CB prospect is (or was) Kendric Burney from UNC. Unfortunately he ran in the 4.7 range and that kills his value. He now needs a great showing at his Pro Day to get back in the 3rd/4th round mix. Last year Joe Haden ran 4.62 in Indy, but then did much better at his Pro Day and stayed a top 10 pick. Burney has got to improve from 4.7 or else he's a late round target or possible safety convert in the making.
Speaking of safety...there are a few intriguing prospects for the Eagles. Most of the year I thought Clemson star DeAndre McDaniel was a lock to be a top 40 pick. Oops. The Combine exposed his athletic weaknesses. McDaniel is still a very good player, but he isn't nearly as athletic as I thought. He weighs 217 pounds and looks like a SS. I thought the Eagles had no shot to get him, but the mediocre Combine showing now means he'll be on the board in the 3rd or 4th round and could be an Eagles target.
One SS that has had a great postseason is DaNorris Searcy from UNC. He really stood out at the Senior Bowl and then had a strong showing in Indy. He is 219 pounds and can play the run and pass. He's a playmaker with return skills. I could see him being of definite interest in the middle rounds. Shiloh Keo of Idaho isn't the fastest guy in the world, but he looked great in the drills. He is the kind of high character, overachiever type the Eagles targeted last year in the draft.