We are less than three weeks away from the start of this year's NFL college draft and the burning question for Eagles' fans is which player will be selected when Commissioner Roger Goodell puts Philadelphia on the clock with the 22nd overall pick in the first round.
There is always a possibility that Philadelphia tries to trade-up for a higher pick, but for the purpose of this update I have combed through the most reliable mock drafts out there in an effort to come up with a consensus as to the Eagles' probable pick at their current spot in the order. The overall feeling is that they will pull the trigger on a wide receiver given the sudden departure of DeSean Jackson, but there is a small minority of experts that have the Birds going for a cornerback in the opening round.
Starting with the top two NFL Draft gurus, Mel Kiper Jr. has the Eagles selecting Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin while Todd Mcshay is going with USC receiver Marqise Lee. I personally do not think Lee will still be on the board when the Eagles go on the clock at No. 22 since he is ranked by many experts as the second or third best receiver in this year's draft class.
Benjamin is a very attractive prospect at 6-foot-5, 240 lbs. You might have to go all the way back to the 1970's to the days of Harold Carmichael to find a receiver with that kind of size playing for the Birds. This could be just the weapon the Eagles need to complement Chip Kelly's big play offense. What you lose in Jackson's pure speed would be made up with a huge target inside the Red Zone.
Walters Football is going with Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks as the Eagles' first round pick. This would make all the sense in the world given Kelly's ties to the Pac-12 from his days at Oregon. Cooks would almost be an exact replacement for Jackson at 5-foot-10, 189 lbs. with blazing 4.33 speed in the 40 yard dash.
Draft Scouts uses a panel of experts for their mock draft board and while the consensus includes names such Lee, Cooks and LSU receiver Odell Beckham Jr., a few members of the panel have Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby going to the Eagles with the 22nd overall pick. It remains fairly obvious that this position is another pressing need for this team so there is some logic behind this pick. He is rated in the top five at his position with a solid combination of size (5-foot-11, 195 lbs.) and speed (4.39 40). There are a few past off the field issues with Roby that could raise some character concerns, but he remains a solid prospect to bolster a weak Eagles' secondary.
Going back to Beckham Jr. as a first round option, he has decent size at 5-foot-11 but he lacks the blazing speed that some of the other top prospects at the receiver position possess. If both Lee and Cooks are off the board at No. 22 then the former Tiger could fit the bill as Philly's top pick.
Sports Illustrated also has Roby going to the Eagles at No. 1 and some of the other players that the team has shown interest in include wide receiver Brandon Coleman from Rutgers, UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr and Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin. All three of these players have had individual workouts and/or personal visits in the past few weeks.
After carefully analyzing all of these mock drafts as well as some opinions from other NFL draft experts, I am leaning towards Benjamin as the Eagles' pick in Round 1. I think Kelly is salivating at the opportunity to add a big wide receiver to mix. Everyone knows that speed kills, but a huge target that can win the battle for jump balls tend to score a ton of points.