The Eagles possess the 15th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft after going 8-8 last season. The Eagles have a few holes that they need to fill on the roster, especially on the defensive side. The Eagles are well-equipped on offense with quarterback Michael Vick, Lesean McCoy, Desean Jackson, and Jeremy Maclin, but won't be able to compete with the ultra-competitive NFC East unless they improve on defense.
Don't be surprised to see the Eagles take after the defending Super Bowl champion, the New York Giants, and load up on defensive linemen, according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King. The Giants cruised through the playoffs with a dominating defensive line presence of Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, and others on the way to defeating the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
I think the way that NFL teams are playing today is to play waves of defensive linemen, King said on a view preview of the Eagles' draft preparations. I wouldn't be surprised if Eagles go defensive end to try to get a good rotation, maybe a Quinton Coples in the first round. Someone to give Cole and Babbitt some help in a much needed blow.
Coples, a huge 6-foot-6 defensive end/tackle hybrid, could be one of the most talented defensive players in the draft, but there are some questions surrounding him. NFL Network's Mike Mayock said he could be an All-Pro but he's got bust potential written all over him.
Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke called him without a doubt one of the best players in the draft, but said that there are questions about his motivation and drive. King has the Eagles taking Coples with the 15th pick, but others may have jumped ahead of him on the Eagles' draft board.
One player who has jumped up the board is Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones, according to Philly.com's Sheil Kapadia. Kapadia reported on Tuesday that Jones was the top rated defensive end for the Eagles and that the team prefers him to Coples, Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe, and LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers.
If not Coples, Jones, Poe, or Brockers, the Eagles could go after one of these players:
Fletcher Cox, defensive tackle, Mississippi State
Cox, a 6-foot-4, 295-pound junior, could be just what the Eagles are looking for on their defensive line, but will they even get a chance to draft him? By most accounts Cox is a Top 10 pick, but the Eagles might be willing to move up in the draft, according to DraftInsider's Tony Pauline. Pauline reported that there's buzz around Philly that the Eagles could try to make a move up for Cox, who would be perfect for the Eagles wide nine/nine technique.
Mark Barron, safety, Alabama
Barron had an impressive career as a part of the national champion Crimson Tide. The 6-foot-1, 213-pounder is rated by many as the top-ranked safety in this year's draft and is known for his excellent run-stopping ability. The issue for the Eagles is that the Dallas Cowboys, picking at No. 14, are believed to covet Barron and are locked in to drafting him, according to Sports Illustrated's Don Banks. If the Cowboys pass up on Barron, it might be hard for the Eagles to do the same.
Luke Kuechly, linebacker, Boston College
Kuechly, the all-time leading tackler in ACC history, is the smart, decisive linebacker that the Eagles need. The 6-foot-3, 237-pounder is known for great instincts and could play a major role for a team right off the bat. The problem, as with most of the Eagles' targets, is that there's a good chance he is off the board before the Eagles pick. Both King and Banks have the Chiefs taking Kuechly at No. 11.