It’s almost here: Who will the Eagles take first in the draft?

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After five months of talk and speculation, the 2015 NFL draft is almost here. The intrigue surrounding Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles is at record levels. Have his series of bold moves this offseason all been part of a brilliant master plan to snag Oregon QB Marcus Mariota? Will all be revealed (and make sense) come Thursday night?

The stakes are as high as they’ve ever been for the Birds. It is the first draft where Kelly will fully wield power. After a disastrous selection of Marcus Smith in the first round last year, the Eagles have got to make a pick able to make a positive impact on the field this season. No room for excuses.

We know that Philadelphia has a number of areas of need that it must fill, safety and wide receiver chief among them. And we know that Kelly will say, as we’ve always heard from the Eagles, that the draft is about taking the best player available, not about addressing needs.

But still…we must mock. Mock draft, that is. The mock drafts don’t even wait until the NFL season ends these days, and the mock madness is at fever pitch in these final days leading up to the draft. They are never close to the reality that unfolds during the draft, but they are still worthy of discussion.

Many experts like Alabama SS Landon Collins for the Eagles. In fact, three of the eight experts on NFL.com’s “Mock Draft Central” predict that he will be Philadelphia’s first round selection, with the 20th pick overall. In what is viewed as a weak safety class, Mike Mayock rates Collins as the second-best safety in the draft, behind Arizona State’s Damarious Randall.

But the Eagles themselves may be throwing shade at the prediction. When Eagles director of player personnel Ed Marynowitz spoke with the media last week, among a series of interesting comments he provided remarks on how he viewed Collins:

He can do it, to a degree. I think all these guys have strengths and weaknesses. Landon has the potential to do that. Maybe not to the degree that some other guys do, but he certainly has the ability to do that.”

Certainly not a ringing endorsement.

ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay have the Eagles still addressing needs in the defensive backfield with their first-round pick, but at the cornerback position with the selection of Washington’s Marcus Peters. Of the pick, Kiper said:

Marcus Peters, cornerback from Washington, is the pick at No. 20 for the Philadelphia. Marcus Peters has an attitude and approach: physical. When you think about in press coverage there against [Jaelen] Strong. You think about a guy who can upgrade a secondary that desperately needs it, that defense. You can’t keep outscoring people. You need to start stopping people and containing people. […] He went up against some really good receivers in the PAC-12 and at the cornerback spot for Washington, he held up exceptionally well when he was challenged and put up to the test against those guys who are going to be in the NFL as high picks.”

If the Eagles went for a wideout with their top pick, names like Breshad Perriman from Central Florida and Phillip Dorsett from Miami have been mentioned as possibilities for the team. Mayock ranks Perriman as the fourth-best wideout of this year’s class, and doesn’t feature Dorsett in the top 5 of version 4.0 of his position rankings. Perriman’s elite combination of size, speed and explosiveness could be an enticing target for Kelly.

Dorsett is projected as a first or second rounder, with his average of 25 YPC getting teams’ attention. Does Kelly want to make his mark with his top pick in what is truly his first draft on a 5’10 and 185 receiver? I don’t see that happening.

Who do you want the Eagles to snag at the top? Hold on tight, ladies and gents, we’re going to get our answers soon.

Check out some Landon Collins highlights and decide if you think he’s the man for Birds:

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