Combine Time: Who Eagles Fans Should Watch

This time next week, the NFL Scouting Combine will be in full swing in Indianapolis. As such, it’s time to start talking prospects and the draft. What position should the Eagles target as their pick at #15, and who should it be?
Philadelphia hasn’t drafted a defensive player in the first round since 1967. But if there was ever a time to buck that trend, this would be the year. The team’s woes on defense in 2011 are well documented. Though things came together at the end of the season, that doesn’t mean for one second that there aren’t significant issues that the team needs to address this offseason in order to have avoid a repeat of last year’s implosion at the start of the season.
Can we say, linebacker?

If you’ve been paying any attention to mock drafts, draft experts, and/or the blogosphere, you know that one name comes up over and over again in reference to the Eagles and their first round pick.

That name is Boston College’s ILB Luke Kuechly (6’3, 237).

This is what the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock had to say about Kuechly as a fit for the Eagles.

“I think he’s the best inside linebacker in this draft by far. He’s a natural three-year junior. He’s got more production than you could imagine. He’s never been hurt. He’s got no significant injuries. He’s clean off the field, intelligent. He’s got great instincts, and he’s a better athlete than people think.People think he’s an inside linebacker from Boston College, so he can’t run. Well, he can run.”

Kuechly seems such a perfect for the Birds that the Inquirer’s Moving the Chains blog is featuring a weekly draft diary on Kuechly’s training leading up to the Combine and through to the draft. If he’s not who the Eagles end up selected, well, we will all learn something about the intense focus and preparation of the nation’s top prospects as they try to position themselves as best as possible for the draft.

According to the latest draft tracker on, Don Banks of, Wes Bunting of the National Football Post, Russ Lande of Sporting  and, among others, all have the Eagles taking Kuechly.

Draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr., however, has put another name into the mix for the Birds–Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox (6’4, 295). Here is his assessment:

“No team was softer up the middle than Philly in 2011, and while linebacker is a bigger need, it wouldn’t be a very good value here if the board lines up like this. In Cox, you get a player who should be great in the 3-4, a powerful bull-rusher who can collapse the pocket, but also a guy who does a good job against the run and plays with a really high motor. I have wide receiver as another potential need, but the Philly defense needs to be a bigger priority in the draft. The Eagles can target a linebacker in the next round.”

Along the lines of Kiper’s thinking, Penn State DT Devon Still (6’5, 310) is another name being mentioned as a possible acquisition for the Eagles.’s Bucky Brooks said of Still,

“The Eagles typically use high picks on offensive or defensive linemen, and their struggles against the run could prompt them to take this hulking defensive tackle. Still will command double-teams in the middle and allow the Eagles’ young linebackers to run and chase freely to the ball.”

Depending on how the players perform at the Combine, new names may start to be mentioned as even better fits for the Eagles in 2012. Or, Cox and Kuechly’s performances may prove so strong that their names may continually appear as top possibilities for the Birds.

So much is at stake for these players and for the teams in the NFL in the oming days and weeks. The pressure adds to the excitement surrounding the first big event of the offseason.

What are your thoughts as to the player that will best fit the Eagles needs in the 2012 draft?

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