PHILADELPHIA -- In a perfect world, the Philadelphia Eagles would find their choice of a playmaking safety, a disruptive edge rusher and an explosive wide receiver waiting when they’re on the clock with the 22nd pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
The draft isn’t like a menu, however. It is just as likely the top two safeties will be gone, there won’t be a pass-rusher worthy of the pick and the depth at wide receiver will convince general manager Howie Roseman to address that position in a later round.
It could be that the draft board presents a handful of high-value cornerbacks when the Eagles are on the clock. So it is very likely Roseman and his staff will look closely at the crop of corners at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.
Some names to watch:
Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State. The 5-11, 195-pound Dennard is universally acclaimed as one of the top two or three corners in this year’s draft. He had four interceptions as a senior. The concern about him is his speed, so he can really help himself with a strong performance at the combine.
ESPN’s Todd McShay had Dennard going to the Eagles in his most recent first-round mock draft. McShay describes Dennard as a “proven commodity with adequate size, good top-end speed and very good instincts and fluidity in coverage.” At NFL.com, Mike Mayock has Dennard as his top-rated corner and Nolan Nawrocki calls him “a big, strong, athletic, instinctive press-man corner.”
“Gilbert would add to the overall depth of the secondary and give the Eagles one of the top two cover men in the draft,” Banks writes. “If a safety like Louisville's Calvin Pryor gets past Green Bay at No. 21, he'd be an even more attractive option.”
ESPN’s McShay has the 6-foot, 200-pound Gilbert, who had seven interceptions in 2013, as his top corner: “Gilbert is a ball-hawking playmaker with good size for the cornerback position, with the ability to press in man-to-man coverage or sit back in zone. He is also willing and capable in run support,” McShay writes.
Jason Verrett, Texas Christian. At 5-9 and just 174 pounds, Verrett is probably a long shot for the Eagles given Chip Kelly’s specs for the position. But Verrett is an active, playmaking type of corner. McShay calls him the “quickest man-to-man cover corner in this class.”
Bradley Roby, Ohio State. He’s listed at 5-10 and 5-11 by different sources, so the first order of business in Indy will be getting accurate measures. Nawrocki at NFL.com says Roby has a “small, wiry frame and his size is just adequate” while Banks at SI.com writes “he's big and physical enough to handle press coverage.” This is what the combine is all about.