We are just days away from the start of this year's NFL Draft and expectations continue to run high over which player the Eagles will select with the 22nd pick of Thursday night's first round. Last year, in Chip Kelly's first draft as Philadelphia's new head coach, the Birds followed the same path as many of their previous drafts by selecting offensive tackle Lane Johnson to fill a huge whole on the line.
Going back to the days of Andy Reid, trying to figure out which player the team was going to select first was a pretty easy task. All you had to do was find the biggest road grader on offense or run stuffer on defense that was still on the board and go from there. Reid made 12 first round picks during his tenure with the team and eight times he selected either an offensive or defensive lineman.
Heading into this year's draft the two biggest areas of need are at wide receiver and cornerback. You have to go back to 2009 to find the last time the Eagles drafted a wide receiver in the first round with the selection of Jeremy Maclin with the 19th overall pick. The last time they took a cornerback in the first round was in 2002 with Lito Sheppard coming off the board as the 26th overall pick.
When you take a look at the multitude of mock drafts that are out there, the general consensus is that Kelly will fill the hole left by the sudden departure of DeSean Jackson by taking a wide receiver. The short list of names on most boards include Brandin Cooks from Oregon State, Odell Beckham Jr. from LSU or Indiana's Cody Latimer. This draft is extremely deep at the receiver position so it would be easy to add three or four more names to that list.
A few of the boards still have the Eagles taking a cornerback first with names such as Kyle Fuller from Virginia Tech or Ohio State's Bradley Roby at the top of that list. I have the Birds taking a defensive back with the 54th overall pick in the second round. Some of the names floating around for this selection include Utah CB Keith McGill or CB/S Lamarcus Joyner from Florida State.
After that it is anyone's guess what the Eagles will do with their remaining four picks over the next five rounds (they do not have a pick in the sixth round). Day 3 of the draft (Saturday) is actually when a team can do the most damage depending on how well its scouting department has done its homework. I would look for the Birds to add both an offensive and defensive lineman as well as another defensive back. When you get to this part of the draft it really does come down to taking the best available players still on the board.
Be sure to heck back in next Saturday as I will be recapping the Eagles first two picks as well as the NFL Draft in general.