Eagles draft scenarios: What if?

No matter how many predictions are made or how much analysis is released, the NFL draft tends to feature a few surprises, especially in the heavily publicized first round.

Like any of the other 31 teams, the Eagles could go in a number of directions when they are on the clock in May, and there’s no telling which prospects could be on their radar depending on how the prior picks unfold.

For the sake of passing time in this year’s extended pre-draft season, here’s one writer’s take on some potential Eagles scenarios for the 2014 NFL Draft, some predictable and some on the brink of absurdity:

What if…

…QB Teddy Bridgewater is available at the Eagles’ No. 22 selection? Nothing should be ruled out (seriously), but I can’t see Chip Kelly using his first-round pick on Bridgewater unless most top WR, CB and OLB prospects are gone and the team can’t find a trade partner to move back.

…the Eagles’ first-round pick comes down to OLB Anthony Barr or a receiver like Brandin Cooks or Odell Beckham, Jr.? Firstly, I don’t know that Beckham will make it past the top 20. Between Barr and Cooks, it’s close, but if the Eagles believe in the former as a pass rusher, I’d upgrade the defense considering there are more WRs to be had in the second round and on.

…TE Eric Ebron is on the board at 22? This would all depend on what other prospects are available, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Kelly took advantage of the chance to add another weapon to an already deep offensive attack.

…a team looking to sneak back into the first round to snag a QB offers to trade with the Eagles? Unless Philadelphia is absolutely in love with a Cooks, Marqise Lee, etc., I’d keep an eye on a swap between picks. The Patriots seem like they could be a dark horse trade candidate.

…by some crazy circumstance, both Hasean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor, the consensus top two safeties in the draft, are available? The former might be the winner on the stat sheet down the road, but Pryor has a physicality that would balance the versatility of a guy like Malcolm Jenkins. As is always the case, though, you can never be too sure about any picks.

Beckham among latest prospects to visit Eagles

The 2014 NFL Draft is still a few weeks away, but the Eagles haven’t wasted any time taking a look at some notable prospects from this year’s rookie class.

LSU’s Odell Beckham, Jr., one of several wide receivers expected to come off the board in the first round, recently announced he would be visiting the Eagles, making him the latest in a growing line of potential picks to meet with Philadelphia.

According to Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com and the Eagles official website, Beckham is far from the first receiver prospect to visit the NovaCare Complex in the pre-draft season. Mike Evans of Texas A&M, Marqise Lee of USC and Kelvin Benjamin of Florida State, each of whom could also be first-round selections, have reportedly also been in town.

Among other notable prospects who have visited Philadelphia are UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr, who could go as high as the top 10 picks according to some analysts, and Washington State safety Deone Bucannon.

Not including those who visited the Eagles are the many prospects who held private workouts for team staff at various Pro Days and other events. Per Lawlor, the Eagles attended Pro Days and/or evaluated top-ranked cornerback prospects like Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard and Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller away from their facilities in Philadelphia.

Benjamin, George: 2014 NFL mock draft (v.1)

It’s NFL draft season, so you knew it was coming. Only time will tell where the top college prospects land this year, but we finally decided to take a crack at predicting the unpredictable. Bleeds-Green.com presents the first of a three-part 2014 mock draft series:

 *Note: On Thursday mornings from now until the 2014 NFL Draft on May 8, Cody Benjamin and guest contributor Demetri George will release their first-round predictions. George is a producer of “The Big Hit” sports show on IUP-TV and a color analyst for Indiana University of Pennsylvania football on 90.1 WIUP-FM.

1. Houston Texans: DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina: The Texans need a franchise QB, but pairing Clowney with J.J. Watt would give Houston a virtually unstoppable line. If Clowney falls out of favor, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Blake Bortles land here, let alone an outright trade out of the No. 1 pick.

2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson: The Rams could use some help up front, but they also might be foolish to pass on Watkins, who’s arguably on the Julio Jones level of WR prospects and would pair nicely with Tavon Austin.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida: If Watkins would have fallen to No. 3, Jacksonville might not let him slip from its grasp, but the Jags also need a long-term quarterback, and Bortles arguably has the highest upside of his class.

4. Atlanta Falcons* (projected trade with Browns): OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo: Looking to milk the value of their picks, the Browns send this selection to Atlanta, which takes care of its dire need for pass rushers by landing the consensus No. 2 DE/OLB available in Mack.

5. Oakland Raiders: OT Greg Robinson, Auburn: If there’s any team destined to destroy mock drafts, it’s probably the Raiders, but instead of going for speed this year, Oakland could address its void up front by landing a potential star in Robinson.

6. Cleveland Browns* (projected trade with Falcons): WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M: Fans might clamor for a quarterback early on, but the Browns do have another first-rounder, so going for Evans would first upgrade the receiving corps, adding a big-bodied target opposite Josh Gordon.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M: Josh McCown was signed to start for Tampa, but his expiration date is probably coming sooner rather than later. Taking a chance on “Johnny Football” would inject the Bucs’ long-term offense with explosion.

8. Minnesota Vikings: CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State: The Vikings could use QB help, but with Matt Cassel back, they can arguably afford to wait until the top of the second round to address that. Dennard gives them much-needed depth in the secondary.

9. Buffalo Bills: OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M: Matthews might be viewed as a steal at No. 9, giving the Bills a future staple of protection for last year’s first-round pick, quarterback E.J. Manuel.

10. Dallas Cowboys* (projected trade with Lions): FS Hasean Clinton-Dix, Alabama: Jerry Jones likes to bring big names to Dallas, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Cowboys pull off another Day One trade, swapping spots with Detroit to add the consensus top safety to their “D.”

11. Tennessee Titans: OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA: Barr could come off the board in the top 10, but the Titans could snag a potential big-play pass rusher if he’s still available at 11. Don’t rule out another QB reach pick (see: Jake Locker), however.

12. New York Giants: OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan: In need of blocking help for Eli Manning, the Giants would assuredly be content if Lewan falls into their hands, giving New York a long-term bookend tackle option.

13. St. Louis Rams: FS Calvin Pryor, Louisville: After adding Watkins at No. 2, the Rams could shift their focus to defense, where they should be looking for secondary help. Pryor would add a hard-hitting physicality to that side of the ball.

14. Chicago Bears: DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh: Notre Dame’s Louis Nix might make some sense here, but Donald is another likely candidate to land in Chicago, which needs some depth up front after losing Julius Peppers this year.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State: Dennard might be a better physical fit for the Steelers defense, but with the Lions snagging him at No. 8, Gilbert is a nice consolation prize. Many analysts have the OSU corner atop their boards.

16. Detroit Lions* (projected trade with Cowboys): TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina: Despite moving back in their projected trade with Dallas, Detroit might be forced to take the best player available at 16, and adding Ebron to an offense that already features Calvin Johnson would be dangerous.

17. Baltimore Ravens: ILB C.J. Mosley, Alabama: Mosley, widely considered the top linebacker in this year’s class, seems like just the kind of player the Ravens would love to add to their defense.

18. New York Jets: WR Odell Beckham, Jr., LSU: Stephen Hill has yet to deliver for the Jets, so bolstering their receiving corps seems like a smart idea. Beckham playing in an “O” that now includes Michael Vick and Chris Johnson could be fun to watch.

19. Miami Dolphins: OG Zack Martin, Notre Dame: Martin wouldn’t be a flashy pick, but adding him to the offensive line could only benefit Ryan Tannehill.

20. Arizona Cardinals: QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville: What better scenario for both Arizona and Bridgewater, who was once seen as a top-five pick? The Cards could steal a successor to Carson Palmer, while Bridgewater would land with an underrated contender.

21. Green Bay Packers: OLB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State: Adding depth to the defensive side of the ball could be key for Green Bay, and Shazier would arguably be a quietly solid upgrade to the linebacker corps.

22. Philadelphia Eagles: WR Marqise Lee, USC: The Eagles could go in a number of directions, and a trade might be likely. But the team has eyeballed Lee quite a bit, and he would seem to be an explosive compliment to Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper.

23. Kansas City Chiefs: WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State: It’s only fitting for former Eagles coach Andy Reid to follow in the footsteps of Philadelphia. By landing Cooks, Kansas City might give itself a younger version of DeSean Jackson, one of Reid’s former starters.

24. Cincinnati Bengals: DE Dee Ford, Auburn: Losing Michael Johnson could be a significant blow to Cincinnati’s defense, but adding someone like Ford could lessen the load, not to mention give the Bengals a high-potential rusher.

25. San Diego Chargers: CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech: In need of some secondary help, the Chargers could take a chance on Fuller, who has widely been ranked among the top three corners in this year’s class.

26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis Colts): QB Derek Carr, Fresno State: The Browns passed on the chance at Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater earlier, but Carr could turn out to be a steal as a late first-rounder. He’d at least give Cleveland a viable long-term starting possibility.

27. New Orleans Saints: DT Louis Nix, Notre Dame: The Saints had to shed a number of veterans for salary cap reasons this offseason, but Nix could give New Orleans an underrated piece to plug into the middle of the line.

28. Carolina Panthers: WR Allen Robinson, Penn State: The weapon-needy Panthers added Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant at wide receiver, but both those guys are better suited to play No. 2 roles. Robinson could be an immediate solution to that.

29. New England Patriots: DE Kony Ealy, Missouri: The Pats could use some additional pass rush, and Ealy would assuredly give them just that.

30. San Francisco 49ers: DT RaShede Hageman, Minnesota: Justin Smith is the furthest thing from a slouch up front, but he’s also not getting any younger, so a guy like Hageman could be an ideal fit in the 3-4 scheme for the Niners.

31. Denver Broncos: CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State: If Denver wants to make another deep playoff run, they’ll probably need to make changes at CB, from which both Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Champ Bailey departed. Roby could be a steal at the end of the round.

32. Seattle Seahawks: OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama: Adding depth up front would be smart, and the Seahawks don’t ever seem to shy away from taking a chance on developmental, albeit injury-prone players.

Kiwak: Garoppolo, Mettenberger scouting reports

Bleeds-Green.com presents another exclusive piece on some of the top prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft:

The following scouting reports are courtesy of Mike Kiwak, sports staff writer for The Penn in Indiana, Pa.

(5) Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois: 6-2, 226 pounds

Pros: Lightning quick release, one of the fastest in recent memory. His mechanics may be the best in the class; they’re smooth throughout his body, from his torso to his feet. He possesses an above average arm. He’s generally very accurate and has good field vision. He shows the ability to scan the field and find the open man. Velocity on passes inside 20 yards is impressive. Maintains a great mental pace on the field and sets up very fluidly. He has a natural, smooth delivery. He’s confident but he generally knows his limits. He’s shown improvement throughout his out his college career. Mobile in the pocket and capable of picking up yards with his feet. He spreads the ball around. Has very good ball placement. He has a short memory after making mistakes. He’s level-headed and always under control with a strong leadership presence. He had elite college production.

Cons: Level of competition should be a concern. It’s a very large jump from FCS college teams to NFL squads. Velocity is lacking on certain throws, particularly those outside 20 yards. Small hands can cause problems with fumbles. Decision making could use improvement, specifically while under duress; Improvements with vision tie in with this. Will he be able to adapt to the speed of the NFL? He needs to continue to develop his pocket awareness and internal clock to feel pressure. He holds the ball too long at times and will take unnecessary hits. He drops his eyes when faced with heavy pressure. While generally tame, he still takes unnecessary risks. He’ll need to learn how to drop back from under center.

My Take: Garoppolo is a very interesting prospect. He has a lot of favorable traits, but teams may be scared away due to his small school background. Overall, Garoppolo looks to be the perfect example of a West Coast quarterback, whose best fit is an offense where he can get in a rhythm and make quick decisions with the ball. He will have no problems finding a suitor in the league. With some development, Garappolo could become a quality NFL starter.

Comparison: Ryan Tannehill.

Draft Projection: Late first round/early second round.

Best Fits: Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets, Houston Texans.

 (6) Zach Mettenberger, Louisiana State University: 6-5, 224 pounds

Pros: He has prototypical size. Mettenberger has one of the best arms in the class. He possesses an absolute rocket that can make any NFL-caliber throw. He can generate impressive velocity to any level of the field. He operated a pro-style offense under LSU OC Cam Cameron. He stands tall and confident in the pocket. He doesn’t throw on the move often, but when he does he does a good job squaring his shoulders and delivering a catchable ball. Compared to his 2012 season, he improved greatly in 2013, with decision making, accuracy, mechanics and vision all seeing development. This is a testament to his impressive work ethic. Pressure does not rattle him often. He can stand and deliver a pass with a defender up in his face. Ball placement is impressive. He can fit the ball into some pretty absurd windows. He displays confidence in his wide receivers; He’s not afraid to lob it up in single coverage and let his target make a play on the ball. He’s a very tough competitor.

Cons: He is an absolute statue in the pocket. Sluggish feet and deliberate movements are a concern. He does not move very well in the pocket and isn’t going to make defenders miss the sack very often, if at all. Delivery is slow, which allows defenders to get in better position to defense the ball. His torn ACL is going to push him down the board because of an inability to participate in a majority of off-season work outs. He needs to be more decisive; too many times I saw him hold out for the play to develop and take a bad sack in the process. With his relative immobility, this will be vital for him if he hopes to succeed on the professional level. He has a live arm, which leads to issues with touch. He’s going to have to speed up his mental process when determining defenses and identifying pressures. He was never known for being a leader during his collegiate career. Strong off-field character concerns after a March 2010 arrest for sexual battery.

My Take: Mettenberger is a classic drop-back passer with a very impressive arm. He is generally raw at the position, though, and he will require some serious coaching before he sees any significant starting time. He has high potential and, much like Carr, he projects well into a vertical offense that allows him to make the most of his great arm. If he realizes his potential, Mettenberger could be a long-term, high-quality starter.

Comparison: Joe Flacco

Draft Projection: second round/third round.

Best Fits: Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals, San Diego Chargers, Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee Titans.

*Number in parentheses denotes positional ranking. Scouting report compiled using six games of film study (five games from previous season and one from the year before).

Coleman lands in Minnesota; Eagles considered Spiller

The 2014 NFL Draft is quickly approaching, but there’s still some news flowing from the free agency front.

According to CSN Philly, the Eagles considered trading for Bills running back C.J. Spiller before landing Darren Sproles from the Saints.

Per CSN’s Geoff Mosher, Philadelphia contacted Buffalo about Spiller this offseason, but there wasn’t mutual interest in a deal and, ultimately, a trade offer wasn’t made. The Eagles, however, would go on to bring in a similarly skilled player in Sproles in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick, adding a veteran behind LeSean McCoy in Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense.

The reported link between the Eagles and Spiller seems logical after the team’s addition of Sproles. Like the former Saints back, Spiller has drawn recognition for his pass catching out of the backfield, earning a Pro Bowl appearance in 2012 as one of the Bills’ most productive all-purpose players.

In other news, former Eagles safety Kurt Coleman was announced as a signing of the Vikings on Monday.

A seventh-round draft pick of Philadelphia out of Ohio State in 2010, he became a free agent this offseason after his rookie contract expired, and after the Eagles’ addition of defensive backs Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Maragos, he appeared to be headed elsewhere. Fans often threw Coleman onto the list of failed post-Brian Dawkins starters, but he made a name for himself as a reserve and on special teams, flashing big-play potential with four interceptions in 2011 and 93 tackles the year after. Despite his smaller size (5-11, 200 pounds), Coleman was also noted for his aggressive nature in the secondary.

Report: Eagles made offer for Dion Jordan

The Eagles didn’t add a pass rusher in free agency this year, but according to a report, they did, in fact, try to trade for one.

Per a report by Bob Grotz of The Delaware County Daily Times, Philadelphia made an offer to the Dolphins for 2013 first-round draft pick Dion Jordan almost two months ago. The offer, which may or may not still be on the table, reportedly included the Eagles’ second-round draft pick this year as well as backup outside linebacker Brandon Graham.

The Eagles’ reported interest in Jordan seems logical for several reasons, not including the team’s apparent need for help up front. The third overall pick in last year’s draft, he had just 26 tackles and two sacks as a rookie, but seemed to be a poor fit for Miami’s defense, in which he saw an average of just 20 snaps per game, according to Dolphins coach Joe Philbin. Well regarded for his size and athleticism coming out of college, Jordan also has a connection with Eagles coach Chip Kelly, for whom he played at the University of Oregon.

Longtime starter Trent Cole and free agent addition Connor Barwin found success as OLBs in the Eagles’ 3-4 defense last year, but with Graham’s long-term role unclear, the team appears devoid of top-level pass rushing depth. Former Texans linebacker Bryan Braman was signed last month, but he is expected to serve mostly on special teams, leaving reserves like Casey Matthews and DE/OLB Vinny Curry as the only rotational options.

If talks between the Eagles and Dolphins don’t resume (or simply continue, depending on the status of the reported trade offer), Philadelphia could look to bolster its outside linebacker corps through the 2014 NFL Draft.