Eagles Wake-Up Call: Welcome To the Combine

INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL Combine kicks off today at Lucas Oil Stadium. Here are three things I’ll be keeping an eye on in the next few days.

Dion Jordan buzz – This is going to be an unusual draft. Normally, analysts are able to do a pretty good job of mocking the first few selections, but this year, there seems to be little consensus.

Which is why Dion Jordan should be on your radar. The 6-7, 241-pound DE/OLB from Oregon could generate some buzz this week.

“I kind of like Dion Jordan who I think is two years away from being an Aldon Smith-type player,” said NFL Network’s Mike Mayock. “He’s only about 240 pounds, but he’s 6-7. He’s got frightening athletic skills, and he’s a year away. He would be a situational pass-rusher year one, and if he puts 20 pounds on, I think he’s going to be a perennial All-Pro. I really like the kid. But, again, that’s a little bit of a risk – reward. You’re betting on this kid two years from now.”

The Eagles probably don’t have to do a lot more homework on Jordan, considering he played for Chip Kelly and Jerry Azzinaro.

“It would be wonderful to be back under his wing, to continue to learn from him,” Jordan told CSNNW.com about the prospect of potentially playing for Azzinaro. “He’s done a good job not only with me, but with a bunch of players who’ve gone to the NFL.”

E.J. Manuel’s stock – The draft process continues for the Florida State QB. Manuel had an excellent showing at the Senior Bowl and said he’d love to play for Kelly. Mayock projected him as a third- or fourth-round pick, but Gil Brandt of NFL.com thinks he could go higher.

Manuel is going to have a chance to prove he’s capable of being a first-round pick. He’s probably not as athletic as, say, Colin Kaepernick, but he’s still pretty athletic, and he’ll be able to show that to people. This combine is very important for him, especially with regard to the physical testing that he’ll get to take part in.

And here’s NFL Films’ Greg Cosell on Manuel, via Yahoo Sports:

“Of the top six or seven quarterbacks in this class, he’s the only one who can run read-option. It will be interesting to see if that raises his value. But again, it gets back to throwing the football. I think he has an easy delivery, and the ball comes out with velocity. He was under center more than people think — I think people just assume that he was in the shotgun all the time. There were throws I saw that did have anticipation and good accuracy. He’s got a high release point. At times, he’s a little scattershot, and we’ll see where that goes. His ball position is too high, and that will be changed in the NFL.”

The corner class – It would be a surprise if the Eagles didn’t take a corner in the draft. But the question is: How soon?

Alabama’s Dee Milliner seems to be the consensus top CB available, but is his ceiling high enough to be a top-five pick? Milliner will have surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder after the Combine, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

“Dee Milliner, for me, is a guy that if he runs fast, he can become a top 10 guy,” Mayock said. “And most people think he already is. I don’t. I love him as a player, love him on tape. I think he’s more like the 20th pick in the draft, if I had to put a number on him. However, if he runs sub-4.5, I think he’s going to be a top 10 pick.”

It’s not just Milliner. Some of the second-tier corners like Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes, Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks and Washington’s Desmond Trufant could boost their stock too this week.

WHAT YOU MISSED

What’s in store for the Eagles’ defense? Here are three leftovers to chew on.

With an MBA in hand, Eagles defensive tackle Ronnie Cameron puts his off-the-field skills to use.

If he can hold on to the football, Bryce Brown should get plenty of opportunities in 2013.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com lists NFC veterans who could be released, including Nnamdi Asomugha:

With $4 million of his scheduled $15 million salary guaranteed, the Eagles could try to work out a pay cut to keep Asomugha. More likely: They cut ties after two straight disappointing seasons.

In an ESPN.com article, Bill Polian looks at team needs for all 32 teams:

Two factors will dictate the Eagles’ offseason targets: the cap and new head coach Chip Kelly’s assessment of the roster. Both will be critical here. But regardless of Kelly’s schemes, it seems pretty clear that an upgrade at cornerback and offensive tackle appear to be needed. An O-line that yielded 48 sacks is certainly a big area of concern.

COMING UP

We expect to hear from Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman today. Keep it here for updates throughout the day.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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