Going into the combine, some mock drafts had the Eagles taking a cornerback with the No. 22 pick in the first round.
The two most popular names attached to the Birds were Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert and Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard. But after the defensive backs went through on-field testing Tuesday, it’s possible neither guy will be around when the Eagles pick.
Gilbert, specifically, put forth an impressive performance. The 6-foot, 202-pound corner ran a 4.37, the fastest time for any defensive player at the combine. Gilbert is the favorite to be the first cornerback off the board and will more than likely be gone by the time the Eagles pick.
Meanwhile, NFL Network’s Mike Mayock thought the 40 was big for Dennard (5-11, 199). The Michigan State standout ended up running a 4.51. From NFL.com:
Mayock said the 2014 cornerback class “is one of the deepest [at the position] I’ve seen in years.” His top corner — for now, at least — is Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard, who won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top college defensive back. Tuesday’s 40-yard dash was important for Dennard because “the only question is long speed,” according to Mayock. Dennard clocked a 4.51 40. Mayock said Dennard “needed something with a 4.4 attached to it.” When he heard Dennard ran a 4.51, Mayock said, “Close enough.” Mayock called Dennard “a press corner with toughness” and said he believes he is a potential top-15 pick.
Both Mayock and NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah raved about the depth at cornerback this year. Here are some other times worth noting:
* Rice’s Phillip Gaines (6-0, 193) ran a blazing 4.38. NFL.com had him as a practice squad candidate, but given the way he tested, Gaines seems like a potential Day 3 pick. He’s got the size/speed combo teams covet.
* TCU’s Jason Verrett has shown up at No. 22 in some mocks. He too ran a great 40 time (4.38). But Verrett measured in at 5-9. If the Eagles aren’t giving Brandon Boykin a chance to play outside, are they really going to give a rookie that opportunity? Doubtful. In other words, I don’t see Verrett as a likely option for them.
* Nebraska’s Stanley Jean-Baptiste has generated some buzz because of his length (6-3, 32 3/8-inch arms). But he ran just a 4.61, tied for sixth-slowest among the 31 cornerbacks who ran at the combine.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Jaws has watched five Johnny Manziel games and said he wouldn’t take the Texas A&M QB in the first three rounds.
An All-22 look at potential free agent safety target Malcolm Jenkins.
The Manziel meeting, where Jeremy Maclin ranks and an interesting note on the 2011 draft.
Notes on UCLA’s Anthony Barr and other OLB prospects, courtesy of T-Mac.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Jeff McLane of The Inquirer on what he’s hearing about DeMeco Ryans:
DeMeco Ryans isn’t going anywhere. That may not seem like much of a surprise considering how well the inside linebacker played for most of last season. But Ryans, who played 96 percent of the snaps on defense, struggled down the stretch, particularly in pass coverage, and isn’t getting any younger. He turns 30 in July. Ryans is also slated to earn $6.8 million in 2014 – quite a sum if he isn’t going to play on passing downs as some have wondered. Eagles general manager Howie Roseman may go to Ryans’ agent, Ben Dogra – who also represents wide receiver Jeremy Maclin – and ask for a pay cut, but that is unlikely to happen. As much as they need Ryans lining the defense up and making stops against the run, they need his leadership perhaps even more. Ryans commands the most respect in the Eagles locker room and “forcing” him to take a pay cut would not go over well with the other players.
Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz thinks Penn State’s Allen Robinson could be an option for the Eagles:
In terms of big receivers, I still think Robinson from PSU would be a great fit. He is 6-3, 220, almost Cooper’s identical size. We know Kelly likes big receivers. Robinson has better RAC skills and could be a good starting receiver. Robinson ran a 4.60, but I expected that. He isn’t a burner on tape. Robinson is a workhorse receiver. He caught 97 passes this year. To put that in perspective, Cooper caught 81 passes in his entire career. I think Robinson is the kind of guy who you could feed the ball to.
We’ll look at how the safeties performed and put a bow on the 2014 combine.