Broken Clouds 57° Good Afternoon
Broken Clouds 57° Good Afternoon

2014 NFL Draft primer: Philadelphia Eagles

Former Virginia Tech defensive back Kyle Fuller goes

Former Virginia Tech defensive back Kyle Fuller goes high to catch the ball during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 25, 2014 in Indianapolis. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Joe Robbins

This is the latest primer in our NFL Draft two-a-days that looks at each team and which potential first-round picks would be a good fit. The draft begins Thursday, May 8.


2013 record: 10-6

Key offseason acquisitions: FS Malcolm Jenkins, RB Darren Sproles, CB Nolan Carroll, QB Mark Sanchez.

Key offseason departures: QB Michael Vick, WR DeSean Jackson, WR Jason Avant, FS Patrick Chung, FS Kurt Coleman.

Biggest holes: Cornerback, safety, wide receiver, linebacker.

Chip Kelly's high-octane offense lived up to its billing in 2013, but the defense didn't quite hold up its end of the bargain.

The Eagles' secondary allowed 289.8 passing yards per game in 2013, worst in the NFL. Meanwhile, the front seven's 5.2 percent sack rate tied the Cowboys for the worst in the league. Granted, part of it was a product of the Eagles' offense. The Eagles' defense was on the field for a league-high 1,150 plays, and well, less time spent on offense means more time spent on defense. But they still could use some help in the secondary to prevent opposing teams from throwing on them in the first place.

They can start with Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller. Fuller is a very smart, balanced corner who plays with toughness despite his lanky stature (six-foot, 190 pounds). He can do pretty much whatever is asked of him - zone coverage, man coverage, run support, even blitz. He played four different positions throughout his Hokies career - linebacker, safety, outside cornerback and nickel cornerback. Hernia surgery prematurely ended his senior season, but he has since checked out as healthy.

TCU's Jason Verrett also is an option here. Verrett is undersized at 5-9 and 189 pounds, but what he lacks in size, he more than makes up for in technique and aggressiveness. He's an excellent ball-hawking cover corner who would be a sure-fire top-10 pick if he was two inches taller and 10 pounds heavier. However, the Eagles tend to like bigger defensive backs. Of the 10 defensive backs on their roster, four are sub-six foot, and none of those four are starters (though the 5-10, 185-pound Brandon Boykin has played a lot of nickel cornerback.)

If the Eagles want to address the back end of the secondary with their first-round pick, they could opt for Northern Illinois' Jimmie Ward (provided he doesn't go one pick earlier to the Packers). Ward is a rangy, versatile centerfielder with good tracking ability, hands and playmaking ability in both coverage and run support. He can line up over a slot receiver, against a tight end or deep over the middle of the field. However, like Verrett, the 5-11 Ward's size works against him in this instance.

The Eagles also could use an outside linebacker to pair with Connor Barwin and groom as Trent Cole's eventual replacement. Kyle Van Noy is likely an early second-round pick, but he may be worth trading back for. The BYU product is a jack-of-all-trades player with great instincts. He won't blow you away with his athleticism, but he's very dependable and gets the job done.

The Eagles need another receiver to replace home-run threat DeSean Jackson, but they're more likely to take one later on in the draft given this year's deep class. If they choose to address the position in the first round, they'd likely have their pick of Oregon State's Brandin Cooks, USC's Marqise Lee or Indiana's Cody Latimer. If the Eagles are looking for an explosive, Tavon Austin-esque playmaker, Cooks would be their guy. If they want an established, athletic wideout who can do a bit of everything, the pick likely would be Lee. If they want a sure-handed, West Coast-style receiver who runs crisp routes, Latimer would be the pick.

Potential mid- and late-round selections include Lindenwood CB Pierre Desir, Florida CB Jaylen Watkins, Virginia Tech CB/S Antone Exum, Florida State OLB Telvin Smith, UCLA OLB Jordan Zumwalt, Oregon WR Josh Huff and Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews.

New York Sports